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For 87 years, the Wadena Pioneer Journal coordinated the local Empty Stocking program, providing Christmas gifts for thousands of needy Wadena children. The newspaper announced in May it would no longer be able to administer the program.
Although most area residents who suffered flood damage following the July 11 rains weren't covered by insurance, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency is offering two loan programs to help return these homes to pre-disaster condition. Community Fix Up flood loans can provide up to $50,000 for homeowners with qualifying credit at 3 percent interest. For residents who don't qualify for the Community Fix Up loans - or those with damage that exceeds what is covered by that program - the state offers the Quick Start Disaster Recovery Program, which can provide additional assistance up to $20,000.
As a new term begins, local officials are aiming to improve pedestrian safety in Wadena's school zone. The community received a quarter million dollar federal grant to create "Safe Routes to Schools" after a competitive application process through the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Forty-five years ago, at advanced Army training in Fort Lewis, Wash., Ace Becker received a letter from a stranger. Mary Bentler, a farm girl from Randall and a student at the Wadena tech school, had read about the Deer Creek soldier in the Pioneer Journal and decided to send him a letter.
Now that the Aug. 12 filing deadline has passed, the ballots are set for the Nov. 4 mayor and city council elections in area small towns. Hewitt Mayor Juanita Mitchell faces two challengers in her bid for reelection. Fueled by incorrect information in the Independent News Herald, many in town speculated that Mitchell wouldn't run for a third term. But even though she's fighting cancer, Mitchell said, "I just don't feel I'm done yet." "I'm still here," she said, "so I still plan to run and give it my best.
Thieves stole more than $3,000 worth of food from the Frito-Lay building in Wadena the evening of July 31. On Friday, Aug. 1, the Wadena Police Department was called to investigate a burglary at the building, which is located on Highway 10 west, according to a news release. The suspect - or suspects - pried a lock and entered the storage unit area, then took thousands of dollars worth of a variety of food items, the release said. An email message seeking comment from Frito-Lay media relations had not been returned as of press time. The crime remains under investigation.
It was supposed to be a lazy, stay-at-home kind of day. "That didn't happen," Ashley Schilling said. Instead, Schilling and her mother, Anne Menard, embarked on an impromptu road trip to try to save an injured great-horned owl. The mail carrier discovered the bird near the end of the driveway at their home northeast of Verndale last Tuesday morning. "We didn't know what to do with the thing," Schilling said. But they knew they weren't going to just watch the owl die. They called the Department of Natural Resources.
Fire destroyed an unoccupied vehicle Monday morning northeast of Sebeka. The Wadena County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a vehicle fully engulfed in flames on County Road 23 near 280th Street Northeast. The Sebeka Fire Department extinguished the fire, which caused no injuries and did not damage any other property, according to a sheriff's office news release. The vehicle was owned by Phil Jones of rural Sebeka, the release said. Jones' phone number is unlisted and he could not be reached for comment. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources assisted at the scene.
As construction continued on the Dollar Tree building near Wal Mart in northwest Wadena, the discount retailer announced last month it had reached an agreement to purchase rival Family Dollar in a cash-and-stock deal worth about $9.2 billion dollars. Dollar Tree is slated to open on Juniper Avenue Northwest in October, joining the downtown Family Dollar in competition for local bargain shoppers. So will the combined company close one of the Wadena locations? "It's a long ways from that happening," said Wadena Development Director Dean Uselman.