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Highway project bids approved

Photo by Rin Porter Wadena County Board Chair Ralph Miller accepts a plaque from the Initiative Foundation.

Getting ready for the 2012 road construction season, County Engineer Ryan Odden appeared before the Wadena County Board at its April 10 meeting to ask for approval of the low bids for three Highway Department contracts for 2012.

Leaf River Ag Services, Wadena, submitted the low bid for Highway Department Diesel Fuel. Redstone Construction Companies, Inc., of Mora, Minnesota, submitted the low bid for bridge work on Bridge 80538 on CSAH 26 and overlay work on CSAH 26. Central Specialties, Inc., of Alexandria, submitted the low bid for mill and overlay work on CSAH 7 and mill and overlay work on CSAH 26.

The county board approved all three bids and contracts will be prepared and sent out so that highway projects can get underway as soon as feasible. Road restrictions for truck weight are still in effect in Wadena County. Odden said he expected the restrictions to be lifted about May 1, depending on weather conditions.

The board also learned from Odden that work on the Home and Hobbies Building roof repair at the county fairgrounds took longer than expected and will cost nearly double the estimated amount because of hidden damage to the roof structure. The contractor discovered the damage while removing old shingles from the roof. The cost overrun will be covered by FEMA reimbursement, Odden believed, because the damage is related to the June 17, 2010, tornado event.

Also at the April 10 meeting, Veterans' Service Officer Dave Anderson delivered his annual report to the board. Anderson presented statistics on the number of veterans he served during 2011 in office visits, through phone calls, via transportation to medical appointments, in newspaper articles and cable TV public service announcements. The numbers of veterans requesting services remained nearly the same in 2011 compared with 2010.

Commissioner Lane Waldahl told Anderson, "You are doing a great job and we appreciate it."

Anderson replied, "This is the greatest job in the world and I love it. Thanks for letting me do this job."

Davis Leino-Mills, executive director of Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action Council, appeared before the board to describe the transition plan underway between his agency, which is in the process of dissolving, and the new, larger agency called Mahube-Otwa that will soon serve five area counties (Mahnomen, Hubbard, Becker, Otter Tail and Wadena).

Each county sends a county commissioner or alternate representative to the OTWCAC board, and will do so when the new Mahube-Otwa board begins to meet later this month.

OTWCAC operates the Head Start program, state and federal weatherization programs, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing programs, family service programs for the poor, and other social service programs of the state and federal governments. However, the state and federal governments recently notified OTWCAC that its funding would be greatly reduced. OTWCAC decided to consolidate its services with Mahube Community Council, the community action agency that serves Mahnomen, Hubbard and Becker counties, to form the new five county CAC to be called Mahube-Otwa. Out of the current staff of 65, Leino-Mills believes that about 50 will be rehired by Mahube-Otwa, but 15 will lose their jobs because of duplication and pay scale differences in the new agency.

In other business, the board:

- approved a contract with Region Five Development Commission for an updated Wadena County Hazard Mitigation Plan.

- approved the charitable gambling application of The Outpost, now under new ownership. The Sebeka American Legion Club #456 will operate the gambling program.

- heard from Ag Society president Mike Olson that his organization wants to explore the possibility of building a baseball diamond at the fairgrounds where the track used to be, instead of a new track. After extensive discussion with county commissioners, it was decided that Ryan Odden will contact the Minnesota Department of Homeland Security staff member who is handling the Wadena Tornado rebuilding paperwork, and ask him whether a change like this can be made. All the paperwork has already been submitted to the state and to FEMA, and the paperwork says a track will be built.

- referred a citizen with questions about a Sheriff's Department investigation of the Solid Waste Transfer Station in 2009, back to the Sheriff's Department. The citizen disrupted the board meeting for about 10 minutes until he was ruled out of order by Board Chair Ralph Miller.

- approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for an in-home daycare center on property owned by Thomas S. and Sharon A. Dalen in Section 31 of Aldrich Township in the A-3 General Agriculture district.

- revoked a CUP for a custom slaughter and retail operation in Section 18 of Wing River Township issued to Dan and Debra Carr in 2009. The operation has never been established.

- revoked a CUP for a Tube and Canoe Rental operation in Section 2 of Bullard Township issued to Jesse and Sheila Fink in 2006. The operation has never been established.

- received a plaque from the Initiative Foundation, in gratitude for the county's contributions to the Foundation's permanent endowment.

The next meeting of the Wadena County Board of Commissioners will be held on Thursday, April 26, at 9 a.m. at the courthouse. The meeting will include two public hearings: (1) on increased fees for certain county services, (2) on redrawing of commissioner districts following the 2012 federal census of population.