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Wadena Board discusses issues, tables others, at special meeting

Wadena County commissioners held a special board meeting Dec. 6 to discuss a set of issues that have arisen during the past few months. However, decisions on most of the issues were postponed until Dec. 19.

A major portion of the three-hour meeting was devoted to the Friendly Rider program. That discussion will be described in a news story elsewhere in this issue of the Pioneer Journal.

One topic of discussion that did result in a decision on Dec. 6 was the choice of window sill materials and a carpet decision related to the courthouse remodeling currently under way. County engineer Ryan Odden brought quotes to the commissioners for three different window sill materials. The board voted to approve the purchase of a formica solid surface material for about $10,000 for all the sills in the courthouse. The formica quote was the lowest of the three. Odden also suggested that carpet replacement scheduled for three probation department offices, be extended to include the fourth office so that all the carpeting in the office suite would match. The board agreed to the $574 increase in the purchase price of additional carpet.

Odden also informed the board that the sheriff's building contractor Black Pearl Inc., had not complied with the Nov. 29 final deadline to complete the building. The original completion date for the sheriff's building was last January.

Odden and Commissioner Jim Hofer will draft a letter to FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, informing them that the final $1,000 payment due to Black Pearl will not be made, since the company did not complete the work on time. Workers will be hired by the county to complete the building.

Another topic of discussion was the county coordinator position. The board approved the purchase of a pay equity study of the county coordinator job description from the Hay Group consulting firm. Hofer will make the contact and request the study on behalf of the county. The pay equity study is the next required step in the process of adding the position of county coordinator to the county's administrative structure.

A third topic, the hiring of a four-year-degreed accountant in the Auditor/Treasurer's Office, was tabled because Auditor/Treasurer Judy Taves, who requested the position, was not present at the meeting.

The next topic was the discussion of possible changes to the commissioners' pay and per diem payments. A decision was tabled until Dec. 19 for more information to be gathered.

The fifth topic was whether to hire a new labor attorney, due to the retirement of Tom Fitzpatrick, who served as the county's labor attorney for many years. This topic was tabled because the firm being considered had not provided the board with a proposal. Taves will be asked to contact them and request a proposal for consideration at the Dec. 19 board meeting.

Also as part of this topic, the issue of how to provide human resources services after Dec. 31 was briefly discussed. The contract of human resources consultant Cheryl Goettig ends on Dec. 31. If a county coordinator is hired, he or she will perform the duties of human resources management. The board did not want to hire a consultant for 2014, only to terminate the person when the county coordinator is hired, nor did the board want to go for several months without a procedure for handling human resources issues. It was suggested that Goettig could be asked to serve on a month-to-month basis, until a coordinator is hired. No one has spoken to her about this. Another choice would be to have a committee composed of Ladd, Taves, and the department head of the person with human resource issues. This topic was also tabled and put on the Dec. 19 agenda.

The sixth topic, the construction of the new building for the county transfer station, was briefly discussed, but no decision made.

The last topic, Data Practices Act requests, was tabled until the board can consult with County Attorney Kyra Ladd and Taves.

The board changed the start time of the Dec. 19 meeting from 2:30 p.m to 2 p.m.