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Wadena City Council approves purchase agreement with Freshwater

The City Council of Wadena approved a purchase agreement with Freshwater Education Tuesday for a 7.39 acres of property south of the Wadena Industrial Park along U.S. Highway 71.

Freshwater Executive Director Jerry Nesland said last Wednesday Freshwater's plan for the $45,000 piece of property is to build a 22,000-square foot building. Nesland said construction could begin in June, 2018. Once the new building is ready, the Freshwater offices in the old Deer Creek school will be vacated. Personnel working in the Freshwater offices on Ash Ave. NE will also be moved to the new facility and their Ash Ave. offices will be put up for sale. The Alternative Learning Center on North Jefferson in Wadena will remain in its present location.

"We're anticipating that some of the office staff from Staples will also be over there," Nesland said.

Before the purchase agreement could be signed Tuesday night the the Wadena Development Authority had to transfer ownership of the former Lorentz Farm to the city, and the city council had to then annex it.

Phil Martin of Bolton and Menk Engineering told the board it has the authority to create a whistle quiet zone in Wadena. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line parallels State Highway 10 and transects U.S. Highway 71, which converge in Wadena. Work on a portion of Highway 10 within the Wadena city limits is scheduled to begin in 2018. Martin said the state has given indications they would share in some of the costs on Highway 71. Wadena Mayor George Deiss said Wadena County has given some indication they would share in a portion of the costs on Second Street SW and First Street SE.

The board approved Martin's plan to issue a notice of intent to create a Whistle Quiet Zone.

Martin also addressed the board on a Southeast Wadena Infrastructure Project change order. Martin told the board the project has included 36 change orders adding $145,000 to the cost of the project. City Administrator Brad Swenson pointed out that despite the change orders, the project is still $150,000 under the project estimate. Swenson asked the council for direction in dealing with a man interested in buying 40 acres of property adjacent to the Wadena Municipal Airport. William Knutson of Schofield, Wis. has requested a thru-fence access to the airport grounds from the property he plans to purchase. Swenson told the council the cost of an automatic gate would be at least $75,000, and a gate would compromise the integrity of the fence which surrounds the airport property. According to Swenson, Knutson has plans to build a private home for himself along with a hanger for his aircraft. Knutson has also indicated an interest in selling lots on the property.

Swenson told the council the Federal Aeronautic Administration (FAA) would have the final say on the project.

The council instructed Swenson to contact Knutson again to see if he would be interested in meeting the substantial costs of a thru-fence agreement before tabling the issue.

Deiss and Swenson met with MnDOT Aeronautics Thursday morning at the Wadena Airport for a routine inspection of the facilities. When Deiss brought up Knutson's proposal, the MnDOT Aeronautics representative told him the state does not allow a private individual that privilege. Deiss said he was told that only a business could obtain a thru-fence access from the state.

The board approved hiring an appraisal firm to look at the First National Bank Building before entering negotiations with Wadena State Bank, the building's owner, toward a possible purchase of the property as a new site for the Wadena Library. The funds would come from the Library Board's Study account, which stands at $14,841.

Jode Freyholtz-London of Wellness in the Woods asked the council for a letter of support in her organization's effort to create a Peer Respite in Wadena. Freyholtz pointed out that a peer respite could have a substantial impact on the mental health of people living in the Wadena area. Peer Respites have been proven to reduce the number of visits to mental health facilities by 40 to 70 percent according to Freyholtz-London by helping people deal with mental issues before they become critical. The board approved the request for a letter of support.

In personnel matters the board gave the green light to Eric Robb to hire five lifeguards and granted step increases to city employees Dean Kallevig (Wellness Center) and Michael Spilman (Building Maintenance).