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Wadena County hires Coordinator, Human Services Director

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Wadena commissioners spent more than five hours discussing and debating which of the finalists for two top jobs should be offered the positions, and what salaries should be chosen to accompany the offers at a special meeting held May 2.

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First, the county board held a closed session to discuss the results of the background checks conducted after the interviews for Human Services Director were held on April 9, and other confidential information regarding the candidates.

Then the meeting was reopened to the public, and the Human Services Director position was brought before the board. A motion was made, seconded, and approved to make an offer to Tanya Leskey, with a salary on the county pay scale at Grade 59, Step 7, for $79,788, with one year of probation.

The meeting was recessed so that Chair Bill Stearns could call Leskey and present the offer.

When the meeting resumed, Stearns reported that Leskey had rejected the offer and had made a counter proposal requesting that the county increase the proposed salary. Leskey explained to Stearns that the annual earnings from the position that she currently holds were considerably higher (more than $20,000 higher) than the offer made by the county.

After considerable discussion, commissioners voted to make a second offer to Leskey, this time at Grade 59, Step 8, for $82,846, with one year of probation. Stearns made the call, assisted by Commissioner Jim Hofer, during the lunch break that the board took.

Stearns reported that Leskey had asked about a waiver of employee benefits, and whether there would be financial compensation for not taking county health insurance, etc. Human Resources Consultant Cheryl Goettig, who was present throughout the long meeting, informed the board that the current labor agreements did not provide for employees to be compensated for waiving county health benefits.

After a great deal more discussion, the board decided that they would not increase the salary offer to Leskey. Stearns was designated to call her and explain that county labor agreements did not permit the board to compensate employees for waiving county health insurance benefits, and that the board would not raise the salary offer. In addition, Stearns was authorized to tell Leskey that the county board would like to have a decision on their offer on Monday, May 5.

The board again held a closed session, this time to discuss the results of the background checks conducted after the interviews for County Coordinator were held on April 14, and other confidential information regarding the candidates. Three finalists from the five finalists interviewed were selected for background checks.

Then the board reopened the meeting to the public, and the County Coordinator position was brought before the board. A motion was made, seconded, and approved to offer the County Coordinator position to Curtis Kreklau Jr., one of the three finalist candidates who had been backgrounded, at Grade 59, Step 2, for $64,563, with one year of probation. Commissioner Jim Hofer stated that Kreklau had been chosen because of he had extensive management experience in the U.S. Air Force and at a private sector organization.

Stearns was designated to call Kreklau later that afternoon, offer the position, and explain the salary and benefits that the county presents. Stearns was to ask Kreklau to provide a decision on the offer on Monday, May 5.

The board voted 3 to 2 to hire Leskey at Grade 59, step 9, at $85,883, to start May 27. Kreklau will start May 22 and is coming this morning to have coffee and see part of the board meeting.

In other business, the board:

• Approved a tree planting contract with Kira Rioh to plant 10,000 Norway pine trees for 12 cents per tree on Wadena County lands in Section 11 of Bullard Township.

• Approved a Special Use Permit for the Huntersville 2014 Enduro Event, an annual event to be held May 31 and June 1 by the River Valley Enduro Riders in Huntersville State Forest.

• Approved a one-year gambling permit for the Park Rapids Amateur Hockey Association to sell pull-tabs at Blueberry Pines resort.

• Approved a one-year 3.2 malt liquor license for Twin Lakes Lodge.

• Denied the request from Todd and Glenda Erickson to purchase an easement from the county across county-owned land to their privately-owned land.

• Approved the closing of a trail at Cottingham Park to motorized vehicles during the regular camping season.

• Approved the appointment of Joann White to another three-year term on the County Park Board, effective October 2014-September 2017.

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