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Casey Christie / The Californian

This photo was taken when the Kern County Sheriff's Office promoted RoseMary Wahl, center, to chief deputy.

Sometimes it's hard to walk away from a longtime job.

And sometimes it's just as hard for an employer to see a talented employee go. So Sheriff Donny Youngblood, facing that situation with the retirement of Undersheriff RoseMary Wahl, has hashed out an agreement with her that he will present to the county Board of Supervisors March 25.

The plan is for Wahl to retire, but then return as an "extra-help" undersheriff. She would continue working in the position and receive a salary but no benefits and could work no more than 960 hours a year. Youngblood said Wahl, 51, would be paid $76,000 a year, saving the county more than $200,000.

The arrangement would be evaluated after nine months to see if it's working.

Youngblood said he hasn't spoken in-depth about the proposal with any one supervisor, but said Wahl has a "superb" relationship with the board.

"I think they'd like to keep her around," he said.

Supervisor Leticia Perez said in an email Tuesday that the county has more than 30 years of training invested in Wahl, and her experience is invaluable.

"Undersheriff Wahl will be indispensable for the construction of the new jail, the full implementation of AB109 prison realignment and the development of a budget in these dire financial times," Perez said.

As undersheriff, Wahl effectively runs the Sheriff's Office when Youngblood is out of town. She reports directly to Youngblood and is responsible for the operational oversight of the entire Sheriff's Office.

In 2008, Wahl, became the first woman in the department's history to achieve the rank of chief deputy. She was promoted to undersheriff in 2010.

Wahl joined the department in 1981 as a typist clerk.