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Security addressed for Wadena couthouse

Wadena County offices will be more secure after the county board voted to purchase three Centurion Security Systems for the courthouse, public health and social services from StopTech. Ltd. Recent incidents with irate citizens in the courthouse have raised concerns among county officials.

The cost for the three security systems is $21,436. The cost also includes a repeater to extend the range of the coverage in the courthouse.

The county considered purchasing one system a year over the next three years, but decided purchasing all three at once was more cost effective, said Scott McKellep, emergency manager. The cost of installation for all three systems is $1,650, while the cost of installing only one system is $1,250. McKellep said the county would have to pay the installation cost each time it purchased a new system.

Commissioner Mary Harrison said she had a problem with buying a security system for just one county building. The county should purchase a security system for everybody or nobody, she said.

The benefits of the increased security are well worth the cost, said Chairman Lane Waldahl.

"Twenty-one thousand is about the cost we buy a new car for," he said. "If we can go out and buy new cars, we should be able to [pay] for safety of citizens."

Commissioner Orv Meyer agreed.

"It's the cheapest $21,000 we'll ever spend," he said.

The system will provide security for county employees and citizens who use the courthouse, McKellep said.

"For right now it's going to give us some protection and not much building remodeling," said Commissioner Bill Stearns. "We should be providing more security."

McKellep would like do a lot more security improvements in the future, he said. Access control and metal detectors would both be important improvements.

"It's just a matter of doing it as we can afford it," he said.

McKellep is waiting to hear back from StopTech about installation dates, but he said the system will likely be up and running this fall.

"I think that it's going to make a lot of ... employees feel safer," Waldahl said.

Additional items discussed at the Oct. 19 board meeting include:

• A fee public hearing was held and the board approved a rate increase for the Friendly Rider from $1 one-way for 0-2 miles to $1.25 for the same distance effective Jan. 1, 2007. The new rates include: $2.50 one-way for 2-9 miles, $3.75 one-way for more than nine miles. The student/ senior citizen 30-day pass will cost $30 and the family 30-day pass will cost $60. No members of the public attended the hearing.

• The board accepted the resignations of two Wadena County Sheriff's Department deputies. Vernon Kemper is a 26-year veteran of the sheriff's department. He requested his resignation be effective Nov. 1, 2006. Kemper is also a maintenance supervisor for the highway department.

Chief Deputy Stephen Young is a 26-year veteran of the Wadena County Sheriff's Department and a 33-year peace officer. His resignation will take effect on Dec. 31, 2006. The board also approved Sheriff Mike Carr's request that Young be compensated at his regular wages for court appearances on unresolved cases after he retires.

• The board passed a motion to advertise for a full-time assistant county attorney. The new position will replace the contracted services with Hansen and Pederson as well as any additional functions for the county attorney's office, said County Attorney Kyra Ladd. The contract with Hansen and Pederson provided 1,000 hours of service and the full-time assistant county attorney position will provide 2,088 hours of work.

"For basically the same amount of money, [we're] getting twice as much work for the county," Ladd said. "It's more cost-effective."

• Highway Engineer Joel Ulring informed the board that a county vehicle pool is a good idea and should be further explored. He completed a vehicle management study and met with Stearns and Harrison, as well as departments that could benefit from a county motor pool. The board authorized Ulring to move forward in developing an implementation plan for the vehicle pool. Ulring will examine vehicle facilities, personnel, time and equipment issues.

• The board granted an early allocation of $1,050 from the $3,024 in the 2007 preliminary budget for the Wadena County Historical Society. Sandi Pratt, curator, requested the early release of funds so the society can put a roof on the tower they are renovating. The tower is a remnant from the original Wadena Courthouse built in 1886. The tower stood at the Wadena County Fairgrounds from 1970 until it was moved to the historical society grounds in July.

• Rudy Yglesias, maintance superintendent, requested funds to purchase a pick-up truck to plow several county parking lots. Yglesias has been using his own vehicle. The plow trucks owned by the maintenance department are too large to plow parking lots, Yglesias said. The board said they would consider purchasing the truck but asked Yglesias and Ulring to do some research into using other county trucks.