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Answer Man: 'Bounty hunters' don't need a license

Dear Answer Man, are bail bondsmen licensed by the state? How about these so-called bounty hunters who work with bail bondsmen?

They're "approved" by the state -- you fill out an app and send it to the state court administrator's office in St. Paul. The appliication involves a state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension background check. If you're charged or convicted of a felony , a gross misdemeanor involving theft, fraud or similar types of misbehevaior, or "any other crime at the gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor level that calls into question the applicant's ability, capacity and fitness to perform the duties and to discharge the responsibilities of a bail bond agent," your application may be denied but it can also be appealed.

If you're approved, you're listed as an approved agent for bail bonds. There are roughly 350 active agents listed on the state website , and it looks to me like Rochester has about six. Among other sources of information on the topic is the Minnesota Professional Bail Bonds Association , which "believes that a healthy and vibrant bail bond industry is beneficial for the cost-effective administration of justice."

Regarding so-called " bounty hunters ," you might be surprised at all the information online about how to become one. There are no additional licenses required in Minnesota -- you just have to be a state-approved bondsman or employed by a bail bond business.

I called Grande Bail Bond , one of several bail bond agencies in Rochester, and Mark Grande said the news this week about bail bondsmen and bounty hunters "was kind of a black mark" on the bond business, "but here's the thing about bounty hunters or recovery agents: they're out there every day. That's their job and that's what they do." Bond agencies "either have them on retainer or on the payroll."


In his case, Mark says he's generally his own recovery agent, if somebody tries to skip bond. "I write pretty safe" bonds, he says, and he only has to chase someone down a half-dozen times a year. Other firms "are getting them every single day."

In the case of Stew Peters , the Red Wing-based recovery agent/bounty hunter in the news this week, Mark says, "I don't know why law enforcement would belly-ache" about Peters' involvement in catching fugitive Gregory Ahlers and returning him to jail last year. "He accomplished what (law enforcement) couldn't do, which is get Greg Ahlers back here. Ahlers got away from law enforcement three times -- they couldn't catch him. Peters was on the hook for a lot of money and got him back from California."

Businesses that go way back

I have to admit, my column Tuesday on Kruse Lumber was exceptional, and it was so interesting that Answer Maniac Tim Schmittdid the legwork on other historic businesses in Rochester. Please enjoy with a grain of salt -- there's plenty more research to be done on the city's hoariest businesses.

"I enjoyed your column on Kruse Lumber and it got me thinking about other long-term Rochester businesses.

"Among businesses that have been in the same location, we have W.L. Parkin Ice Cream, now Kemps, 1911; Kruse Lumber, 1915; the Kahler Hotel, 1921; and Samaritan Bethany,1923."

Among still-vibrant businesses that moved from their original sites, there's Weber & Judd pharmacy, whose company history says they date from 1862; Eagle Drug, which Tim says goes back to 1866; and Schmidt Printing , 1912. And then there are businesses that can trace their lineage through successor businesses, such as Ranfranz & Vine funeral home , which goes back to 1879, and the Post-Bulletin, which can trace its history back to the Rochester City Post in 1859, a year after the city was incorporated and Minnesota entered the Union.

Want to brag about your company's longevity? Send me a note.

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