Wadena County Commissioners voted to approve the hiring of Ryan Damlo to serve as Transit Director for the Friendly Rider service in Wadena and Becker Counties, effective March 23. County Engineer Ryan Odden told commissioners that the selection board for the Transit Director position interviewed three candidates on Feb. 23 and recommended that Damlo be hired. Damlo has served as Asset Protection Manager at the Wadena Walmart since June 2011.
Two district court judges, eight of nine department heads, and several other Wadena County and court staff packed the commissioners' room at the Courthouse during the Feb.
Commissioners approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Jesse Koskiniemi at their Feb. 3 meeting to operate a home-based gun sales business at his father Lester Koskiniemi's home in Lyons Township. Jesse recently moved to the home to help with the farm work. Koskiniemi has run the gun sales business since June 2012 and holds the necessary Federal Firearms License, regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, known as ATF. The county planning commission recommended approval of the permit after holding a public hearing to consider it on Jan. 15.
At the Jan. 20 board meeting, Wadena commissioners learned from Emergency Services Manager Luke Manderschied that the county's new emergency generator may be installed as soon as Feb. 16, Presidents' Day, if the engineering has been completed, inspected and approved by that date. Manderschied and Commissioner Sheldon Monson, who have both been working on getting the generator's electrical connection issues straightened out, have talked with a Widseth Smith Nolting (WSN) engineer almost daily since Jan. 13.
The long-awaited installation of a new emergency generator for the Courthouse and jail has been delayed by a vote of the county board at its Jan. 13 meeting. The generator, which cost about $160,000, was ordered from Cummins Equipment on Aug.
At the first meeting of the year held Jan. 6, Wadena commissioners elected Rodney Bounds chair and Dave Hillukka vice-chair for 2015. Bounds said that he was not surprised by his election since he had been approached a few weeks ago about whether he was willing to serve. Several county employees were surprised by the election of Hillukka as vice-chair, since that choice did not follow the customary rotation of vice-chair duties. Normally, it would have been Jim Hofer's turn to serve as vice-chair. Hillukka served as chair in 2013 and as vice-chair in 2012.
On Monday, Jan. 5, all seven officials who were elected in November to serve Wadena County took the oath of office from Judge Sally Ireland Robertson at the Wadena County courthouse. Sheriff Mike Carr, County Attorney Kyra Ladd and Recorder Soledad Henriksen have all served the county for nine years and were reelected to their positions. Auditor/Treasurer Judy Taves has served for two years through appointment by the county board. The new term will be her first full term in office.
Wadena County Commissioners completed the business of 2014 and prepared for the new year at their meeting Dec. 22. They approved a 2015 budget of $20,917,117 and a 2014 pay 2015 property tax levy of $8,017,992. The vote on the levy was three commissioners in favor, and two against. The levy amount represents the first levy increase in several years.
Wadena commissioners had second thoughts about the expansion of the county's Transfer Station at a Dec. 16 board meeting. In November, Solid Waste Director Mike Hanan presented the board with a proposal from Foss Architecture, Fargo, to provide architect services for the expansion of the Transfer Station for an estimated $72,000 — 6 ½ percent of the project's $1.1 million construction cost. Commissioners asked Hanan to get more information about the architect fees. Wade Ericson from Foss Architecture attended the Dec.
All five Wadena County commissioners, three of the five county fund managers and two other county officials arrived at the 6 p.m. scheduled Truth in Taxation meeting on Dec. 2 ready to give information and answer questions about the 2015 county budget. No county residents came to the meeting for that purpose. A few residents came to complain about the increase in their property taxes.