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DEED results pushed back

Although Wadena city officials and staff were timely in their completion of a grant application, they will have to wait longer than expected to hear the results.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) grant application for the Wadena Regional Wellness Center was sent out June 20, after a June 18 special meeting was held to polish the grant paperwork. The grant's initial deadline was Tuesday.

"I just received notice today that they've extended that deadline for taking applications until July 9, and they said it would be six to eight weeks," City Administrator Brad Swenson said Monday. "I was hoping that we'd know by middle to late July, but now it looks like middle to late August before we're going to know."

When local projects were cut from the Minnesota Legislature's bonding bill in May, $47.5 million was allocated to a special fund to be distributed to applicants at the discretion of DEED.

June 18 was the council's final special meeting to mull over the grant application. Council members Don Niles and Kay Browne prepared packets of comments and made most of the final tweaks.

At the meeting, council member Don Niles said the city should continue to ask for $4.625 million, a number brought down from $4.75 million earlier in June. He said Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton probably knows what he wants, and bringing the number down a little further would most likely not make much difference.

The $4.625 million is a 50 percent match from $9.25 million, not including the $750,000 granted to Wadena in fall 2010 for planning. The total proposed project cost is about $10 million.

Browne's comments for the application showed pledges totaling more than $2.8 million have been received from five foundations, including one in the metro area contributing $1.25 million, 22 business and organizations, and 31 pledges from individuals.

The application packet included building design graphics, aerial photos and photos of the proposed site with the old Leaf River Ag U.S. Highway 10 building.

When Niles asked if they could say the totaled Leaf River Age building would be removed this summer, Swenson replied yes.

Browne emphasized building the wellness center would be good for businesses and building the tax base.

Additionally, the council eliminated references to plans aimed toward upgrading the old community center on and off for about 20 years.

Niles said the situation is more about the tornado now, since the June 17, 2010 storm destroyed the community center and necessitated its replacement.