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Wadena Board considers hiring coordinator

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At a first-of-its-kind work session Thursday, the Wadena County Board of Commissioners discussed whether to restructure the way the county operates.

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The meeting was the last one that Auditor-Treasurer Char West would attend. Her resignation was official Friday, when she left the county after 10 years of service to take the job of Menahga City Administrator.

Commissioner Rodney Bounds began the board's discussion, restating his belief that West's leaving, while regrettable, would allow the county to consider different forms of operation.

West functioned in many ways as a chief executive for the county, although she did not have the title, the pay or the responsibility that a county administrator or county manager would have if the county officially hired one.

In addition to her many duties as county auditor and treasurer, West was also clerk to the county board and department head for at least two departments (and often for additional departments when a vacancy occurred elsewhere in the county). She also provided many human resources functions.

County Attorney Kyra Ladd attended the meeting and was asked to explain which Minnesota Statutes applied to the positions recognized in state law as possible positions that Wadena County might consider. The positions include county manager, at-large chair, county administrator, county coordinator, county auditor-administrator, elected executive, among others.

Commissioners expressed their interest in finding someone who would take over the extra duties that West had performed outside her auditor-treasurer job, including perhaps the job of clerk to the County Board.

"The department heads want someone they can talk to, a screener, a sounding board," Commissioner Jim Hofer said.

During the past few weeks, the county has been accepting applications for someone to be appointed to fill West's unexpired term as auditor-treasurer.

The application period closes Wednesday.

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