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'We have to help our children'

When Soledad Henriksen heard about a program for foster kids in Wilkin County, she put her heart into it.

The Wadena County Recorder started putting plans together for a charity program of her own she called "Duffle Bags for Kids" last October. She checked with Wadena County Human Services and was routed right to Kirstin Roberts, the foster care licensor.

"I just kind of pointed her in the right direction," Roberts said. "It's really Solee's program."

The effort that both county employees have adopted is providing foster children with something of their own as they move into their new family environment. Foster children can range from infants up to the age of 18, and they do not always have a lot of possessions with them when they arrive at the home of their foster parents.

The idea is to reach out on behalf of these foster kids for items they can call their own. Henriksen and Roberts just received their first big delivery of donated items including socks, toys, toothbrushes, pajamas, blankets and, of course, duffle bags. They have also received cash to buy what kids may require.

Henriksen went to her fellow county employees first, and some have contributed gifts or money. Among the other contributors have been the Alliance Church in Verndale and the Wadena Police Department.

There is no deadline for contributions to the program, and Henriksen will gladly accept more.

"I have this desire," Henriksen said. "We have to help our children."

Henriksen and Roberts were lauded by Amie Gendron of Wadena County Human Services and applauded by the Wadena County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

Roberts pointed out that the county is always looking for people who are interested in being foster parents.

"We are also recruiting for more foster care," Roberts said.

Close vote on RIM Program support

In a narrow 3-2 vote the Soil and Water Conservation District and Nature Conservancy organization obtained a letter of support for a Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program from the county board.

The main contention with the letter from commissioners Sheldon Monson and Dave Hillukka was that landowners signing up for RIM, and then perhaps deciding to build on their land later, have no easy way of getting out of a RIM easement program once they sign up.

"It kicks you in the shin," Hillukka said.

It was pointed out by Darren Newville and Anna Oldakowski of the Bureau of Soil and Water Conservation and Todd Holman of the Nature Conservancy that what they sought was a letter supporting a RIM program to protect the Crow Wing River Watershed. Holman said Cass and Crow Wing Counties are already administering the program.

"We all have a similar goal of protecting watershed quality," Oldakowski told the board.

In other action the board approved:

• Establishing the job description for a County Coordinator position. The coordinator would work with all county department heads.

• A resolution supporting the state's capital investments for regional behavioral health crisis facilities and permanent supportive housing for those with behavioral health needs.

• Final payment to Central Specialities in the amount of $72,276.87 for work on the road to the County Transfer Station northwest of Wadena.

• The hiring of five seasonal employees for 2018 County Highway projects.

• A resolution that no refunds will be issued for the voluntary prepayment of property taxes prior to property tax statements being released.

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