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Wadena County Board gets new chairman

District 1 Commissioner Sheldon Monson took over as chairman of the Wadena County Board Tuesday after serving as vice chairman in 2017. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal

Commissioner Sheldon Monson opened 2018 with a new title as the Wadena County Board met for the first time this year.

Monson stepped into the chairman's position, a job which has been shouldered over the past 12 months by Commissioner Dave Hillukka. Monson has served as vice chairman. County commissioners are appointed to the chair for a one-year period. Monson is the commissioner from District 1.

Recycling closer to home

The commissioners approved sending a letter of support for a recycling center expansion in Becker County. Mattresses are currently being shipped to a recycling center in Gwinner, N.D. - 122 miles away. Detroit Lakes, the county seat of Becker County, is 42 miles from Wadena. Currently, there is not a nearby facility for deconstructing mattresses and other bulky problem materials in west central Minnesota.

"It would lower our operating cost, which would be beneficial," County Engineer Ryan Odden told the board.

Law enforcement

Chief Deputy Joe Schoon's approval for the purchase of two 2018 Ford Utility vehicles was approved. Each will cost $27,849.45. Schoon informed the board the Sheriff's office will be trading in a 2013 Chevy Tahoe with an estimated value of $10,000.

Schoon also received approval for a resolution between the Minnesota Joint Powers Alliance and the Wadena County Sheriff's office to receive funding to implement an adapter for its records management system. The adapter would create a link with the Minnesota National Incident-based Reporting System.

Sgt. Bryan Savaloja asked the board to approve a memo of understanding between Wadena County and Mille Lacs County for 911 text message services until the end of 2018.

"Unfortunately Wadena County and most other counties in the central region are not equipped to handle the texts yet," Savaloja said. "The Mille Lacs County Dispatch Center will handle all of those text messages which come in and they will forward them to the appropriate jurisdiction."

Appoint an auditor/treasurer?

The board approved a resolution asking for legislative action in a bid to make the auditor-treasurer position an appointed one. Commissioner Jim Hofer said Wadena County is one of the few remaining counties in Minnesota to elect their auditor-treasurer. The position demands highly-skilled individuals and past boards have had difficulty finding qualified candidates. In other news:

• Ag Society President Byron Wegscheid's request to roll over $6,000 of unspent 2017 funds to 2018 was approved. The society used $22,000 of a $28,000 budget last year.

• County Attorney Kyra Ladd informed the board that the filing period for this fall's elections is May 22-June 5.

• A special meeting of the board will be held Friday at 9 a.m. in the small courtroom of the Wadena County Courthouse to discuss a possible county organization redesign.