The National Joint Powers Association, based in Staples, has awarded a grant to Wadena County to fund a Drug Agent position for one year, beginning in 2015. County Coordinator Curt Kreklau made the announcement at a special board meeting held on Oct. 28. The amount of $67,644.88 awarded to the county will pay the agent's salary, while $4,800 will be used for a public awareness campaign. The deputy will be assigned to the West Central Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force. Sheriff Carr explained to the board on Aug. 19 that "the purpose is to try to get drugs off the street, to be proactive.
A preliminary report prepared by Bolton & Menk, Inc., the City of Wadena's engineering firm, indicates that the localized flooding conditions at the county fairgrounds can be solved if the fairgrounds system is connected to the city's sewer system. The report was requested by the county through County Engineer Ryan Odden, who is supervising the efforts to figure out a way to stop the constant flooding of parts of the fairgrounds after rain events. At the Oct.
Commissioners learned on Oct. 13 that Wadena County Public Health has been awarded a $625,000 Chemical Health Awareness and Multi-drug Prevention (CHAMP) grant in a competitive process, as part of a coalition of agencies dedicated to preventing youth substance abuse. This grant continues the work of the previous grant. All together, the two grants will cover 10 years (2009 to 2019) Public Health Director Cindy Pederson made the announcement and explained that the grant period will be Sept. 30, 2014 to Sept. 29, 2019.
On the recommendation of County Engineer Ryan Odden, the Wadena County Board awarded the contract for the "Safe Routes to School" project to Central Specialties, Inc., of Alexandria. The county had requested bids twice for this project, but rejected the first round of bids because all of them were too high. The second round of bids produced just one bidder, Central Specialties, but the company's bid was reasonably related to the engineer's estimate for the project. The contract for $250,015 was approved at the Oct. 7 board meeting.
As required by Minnesota Statutes, the Wadena County Board of Commissioners voted to set a preliminary 2014 pay 2015 property tax levy on Sept. 23. The levy was set at $8,017,992 — which reflects an increase of $270,217 over the 2013 pay 2014 levy. This levy amount is preliminary, meaning it is not the final levy amount. The final levy amount will be set by Dec. 30. The final levy amount can be lower than, but not higher than, the preliminary levy. Commissioners worked hard to make the levy increase as small as possible.
After years of saying "no", Wadena commissioners said "yes" on Sept. 16 to a new look and functionality for the county's website. Both the current appearance of the website and its limited opportunities for users to get or give information have been roundly criticized in the last few years. At the Sept. 16 county board meeting, commissioners gave approval for CivicPlus to redesign and rebuild the county's website. CivicPlus is one of several companies that responded to the county's request for proposals earlier this year.
Earlier this year, the Wadena County Board transferred the administration of the Friendly Rider Transit program from Social Services to the Highway Department.
The Wadena County tax-forfeited land sale on Sept. 6 netted the county thousands of dollars it sorely needs to help pay for the upcoming courtroom renovation project. Seventy-one of the available 92 parcels were sold at auction at the courthouse. Hundreds of people jammed the upper level of the building to bid on the parcels, which included hunting land, lake and river frontage, city lots and other types of properties. Auditor/Treasurer Judy Taves and her team organized and ran the sale, as required by Minnesota law.
The Wadena County Board held a special meeting on Sept. 5 to work on the budget for 2015. Minnesota law requires that the board set a preliminary 2014 pay 2015 property tax levy amount in September. In order to do that, commissioners must know how much it will cost to operate the county in 2015. The final levy amount will be voted on at the end of December. Last month, each department submitted its budget requests for 2015. The total was $680,000 above the 2014 budget of $20,547,000. During the three-hour meeting on Sept.
The county's tax forfeited land sale on Sept. 6 will not be held outside in a tent after all, commissioners learned at a special meeting held Aug. 22. Instead, the sale will be held inside the courthouse in the main courtroom. Sheriff Mike Carr, recommended the change after consulting with Auditor/Treasurer Judy Taves, who is supervising the plans for the sale. The sheriff indicated that he could provide better security for the sale if it were held inside the building. Commissioners seemed reluctant to agree to the change, especially Commissioner Rodney Bounds.