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Council gives VFW green light for addition project

The Wadena city approved allowing the VFW to add an additional doorway to its clubrooms, contingent on lighting, railings, no smoking by the alley entrance and loss of no more than 1.5 spaces of parking.

Any modifications would be the financial responsibility of the VFW.

Joe Randall, manager at the VFW, told the council that they are in the process of making the back room more event-friendly.

He said some people don't like to walk through the bar to get to the event room, but the entrance directly to the back room is on a busy alley.

The drawback to the proposed plan, Randall said, is loss of a parking spot - at least during those events.

Council member Toby Pierce said that more people in and out of the alley could present a safety issue, but more business for the VFW would be a good thing.

Mayor Wayne Wolden said he was concerned that in 2010, the council had denied a request to move a dumpster partly on the grounds that it would have taken away a parking spot.

City Administrator Brad Swenson gave an update on FEMA and tornado recovery.

Projects left include the area around the pool, grandstand, southwest recreation area and the big electrical underground project.

"Speaking of the grandstand and the pool, we were told that we were still okay with the ... grandstand leaving it the way it is for now, but at some point in time, we're going to have to apply for what's called an alternate project," Swenson said.

If the alternate project is approved, the city would get 90 percent of what was allocated and possibly use it toward the proposed wellness center if it goes through.

If they don't use the money to rebuild the pool exactly as it was, they have to re-apply and it would be called an improved project.

Swenson also talked about dealing with FEMA over the sewer issue.

He said FEMA hasn't seen this particular claim in Minnesota - which usually has more flood problems rather than tornado related problems.

Council member Don Niles said any rational person would figure that if the sewers double their flow the day after the tornado, they need to be fixed.

Swenson said if the sewers are to be fixed, they would need to tear up the street.

The council discussed a nuisance ordinance and whether to change it, or just have better enforcement of the existing one.

Council members talked about how the U.S. Highway 10 corridor through Wadena has a reputation for being ugly, and the city gets complaint calls with a couple of businesses in particular not cleaning up.

Police Chief Bruce Uselman said that they get several calls a year. The police deal with it right away if the issue is a matter of public safety such as stagnant water, open garbage, open buildings or dog feces.

Otherwise there is a procedure to document the violations of the nuisance ordinance and approach the businesses to clean up. If they do not clean, the city cleans and then bills them.

The council approved a small change order on the wastewater treatment plant, and granted Swenson and public works director Ron Bucholz power to authorize change orders of $5,000 or less to be approved retroactively at the following council meetings.

The council approved a joint powers agreement with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which police chief Bruce Uselman said was basically bookkeeping on part of the state.

The council approved an employee step increase for Lea Ann Motschenbacher.

The council approved the city investment policy with changed language to get it to match state statutes better.

For the new year, the council continued the Pioneer Journal as official newspaper, continued the second Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. as the regular meeting time, continued council member Jeanette Baymler as acting mayor, continued Jeff Pederson as city attorney and continued the city council board appointments.

Council members Kay Browne and Toby Pierce abstained from the vote to approve official depositories for city funds.

Don Simmons and Joey McQuiston were re-appointed to the Planning Commission.

In department reports, Wolden said it was disconcerting that several businesses had closed their doors lately.