Efforts to slow runoff in Wadena County Fairgrounds continue

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A plan to resolve the water issues around the Wadena County Fair commercial building 1 and in front of the beer garden was recently approved by Wadena County Commissioners. The proposal is to pave the entire area and drain it to the new valley gutter (approved by the board last year) that was recently completed by the Todd-Wadena Sentence to Serve crew. The plan was not budgeted for but would be taken from the non-levied building fund. At a cost of $32,120, it would include a 3-inch layer of bituminous over about 19,470 square feet of ground. All commissioners were in favor. County commissioner Bill Stearns commented that he had been to the site the morning of a short rainfall (Aug. 14) and the site was covered in standing water.

"You can't walk anywhere without running into a mud puddle," Stearns said. It's a problem the county wants to be rid of considering the many improvements that have occured on the grounds. Stearns added that the work will help preserve the buildings from water damage.

In other actions the board approved:

• The 2018-2019 County Veteran Services Office grant for $10,000. The grant must be used to provide outreach to the county's veterans; to assist in the reintegration of combat veterans into society; to collaborate with other social service agencies, educational institutions, and other community organizations for the purposes of enhancing services offered to veterans; to reduce homelessness among veterans; and to enhance the operations of the county veterans service office.

• The County Highway Department to contract with Howard's Paving to pave the Human Services and Public Health parking lots for $1,886.37 and $6,857.19 respectively. To be paid for out of the building fund.

• The proposal from the City of Wadena engineering firm Bolton and Menk for professional services of stormwater management planning and Wadena County Fairground Flood Improvements. The cost, which could be applied towards the $5 million bonding money awarded to the city of Wadena, was $15,645 to create design options and cost estimate for the work.

The board also had discussion on changing the board schedule to allow for one work session per month. The idea was brought forth by commissioner Jim Hofer after earlier discussion on finding ways to have more long-term planning. The board agreed that when possible, they could look at spending more time on strategic planning but did not agree that one meeting a month should be devoted to a work session unless no other action was required.

Commissioner Stearns liked the current format. Chair Sheldon Monson was not opposed to having more time for planning, but wanted to make sure there was structure to the meetings.

2019 budget

Commissioner Hofer brought the board up to date on the budget planning. He said the initial budget was higher than hoped for. He noted several areas that they cut including sheriff's office technologies (about $25,000), a water resources tech position planned for. Human Services expenses were up about $110,000 after the addition of a child protection worker and increases to mental health expenses.

Hofer mentioned a plan to increase building maintenance was put on hold. Commissioner Chuck Horsager noted that they need to be creative with the ways they cut spending and less creative in how they come up with ways to spend.

"We're not quite there to tell you a percentage," Hofer said of the levy amount expected.

The budget committee should present to the full board in September.