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Council approves electrical bids, personnel changes

A series of bids were approved for the electric underground project at the Wadena City Council's regular meeting on Tuesday.

"The bids came in a lot more favorable this year," electric supervisor Dave Evans said.

Arvig Enterprises of Perham was approved for an electric underground contractor at about $1.5 million.

Peterson Power Products of Omaha was approved for electric switchgear at $190,236.

Trenchers Plus was approved for a vacuum excavator at $42,647 and a hydraulic valve exercise at $6,905.

The council gave approval to open a police officer position vacated when Naomi Plautz was promoted to sergeant/investigator.

The council agreed that even though it is a tough time for budgets, at least one police officer would need to be hired because retirements would be coming up in the department's near future.

Loren Haman was approved to be hired for the public works department.

Bob Zosel Jr. was approved to join the Parks Board. He was the only applicant. Council member Toby Pierce said it was appropriate and Zosel's father had planted trees in Blacks Grove Park.

The council approved a $6,000 grant and contract with SRF Consulting for a Complete Streets study.

Swenson had been working with county engineer Ryan Odden.

The project is to be complete by June 30.

The council approved pitching in funds with the county for aerial photography, a $6,212 payment to be spread over three years, plus the cost of a new computer that could handle the new high resolution photo.

The council changed city attorney Pederson & Pederson's rate from $90 an hour for criminal and civil matters, which had been the rate set in 2005, to $100 for criminal matters and $120 for civil matters which is a reduction from their usual current rate.

Employee step increases were approved for Joanne Ostlund and Shawn Swenson.

Council members were asked if one of them could be on the steering committee for the Transportation Study and Comprehensive Plan.

A temporary liquor license for St. Ann's upcoming Springfest was approved.

When the meeting was open to the public, Wadena resident Keith Van Orsdel said a nearby property was a potential brush fire hazard.

In department reports, council member Don Niles - who is also the city's representative to the Kitchigami library board - talked about the impact of cuts to the library system.

The library is now closed on Mondays, with one part-time position eliminated and another reduced.

He said the library has a smaller budget for books than libraries in Cass Lake, Pine River and Longville which have much fewer cardholders than Wadena.

The mobile library no longer stops at the Menahga Senior Home, and has reduced time at two other steps at Menahga and Sebeka.

Wolden said State Senator Gretchen Hoffman was positive about the wellness center project and has been making a case for it.