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Niles to call together players for the big meeting

The community center: destroyed. The community pool: devastated. M State: damaged. Wadena-Deer Creek High School: demolition is likely. The Wadena County Fairgrounds: debris-covered.

Many of Wadena's biggest institutions have lost their buildings in the June 17 tornado. Will they all rebuild exactly how they were?

"We have an opportunity to collaborate," said Don Niles, Wadena City Council member. "Let's not just slap something up individually."

Niles is hoping to call together all of the players involved in future facilities planning, from school administrators to the Hockey Association to the Fair Board, and get everyone's input on how best to build Wadena 2.0.

"Basically, think big," Niles said. "Get everything on the table. What are the hopes? What are the dreams? What are the resources."

Niles plans to call a meeting involving every governmental, non-profit and involved agency to talk about facilities, likely in the week of July 12-16. There, he hopes some grassroots collaboration will come alive.

Mayor Wayne Wolden said the Initiative Foundation has offered to facilitate some of the discussions, and may have some resources -- both financial and expertise -- to bring to the table.

City council members agreed it's best to invite the Initiative Foundation to the table, but to also first hear what all of the affected groups have to say.

"The important thing at this point is to keep an open mind," Niles said. "It really is a clean slate we have to work on."