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Wadena Rotary Club continues to grow

The Wadena Rotary Club has grown by nearly 24 percent in the past year.

While two people left the group, six joined last summer and another seven became Rotarians this month. It now has 53 members.

"The whole club has really come together, bringing a lot of guests and visitors," said Brian Hillesland, the club's membership chair.

As they do every week, the Rotarians started the Feb. 5 meeting by eating a hearty meal and singing traditional songs. The highlight came later, when the club inducted Jay Persak, Naomi Plautz, Jim Uselman, Jacob Wallgren, Lee Westrum and Kelly Wong as new members.

Wong, a Twin Cities native who most recently lived in Texas, said she joined to meet more people in her new hometown.

"You really need to have a network," she said. "They do fabulous things for the community. It's a great group."

Wong and Westrum were the only new members in attendance Feb. 5. After they offered a few words to the crowd, Rotarian Mike Craig spoke about the difference the club has made in his life.

The Ameriprise wealth advisor didn't know anyone in the area when he moved here 24 years ago from Illinois. So he checked out the Rotary Club.

"I immediately got plugged into the community," Craig said. "There are many reasons to join Rotary but that's an important one."

The Wadena Rotary Club donates money to a variety of causes. It hosts an annual Corn and Chicken Feed and a Fine Arts Banquet to supports a scholarship fund.

In the next few years, Hillesland said, the club's goal is to expand to 75 members.