After months of discussion and indecision, Wadena County commissioners have settled on where to place the new county coordinator temporarily when he or she is hired and begins work on May 1. During a strategic planning meeting held March 25, commissioners considered several locations within the courthouse, as well as locations in other county buildings, before choosing a solution suggested by Zoning and Parks Director Deana Malone. Malone suggested that GIS supervisor Gina Dahm move to a space within the office of the County Recorder. Then Malone would move to Dahm's former space.
The Wadena County Board held a two-hour strategic planning meeting about county facilities on Tuesday afternoon, March 18, in the Courthouse auditorium. The county is confronted with an office-space crisis, and needs to make some immediate decisions about where to move some employees to make room for a new county coordinator, the expansion of the County Attorney's Office, and the Courthouse remodeling project. As he opened the meeting, Chair Bill Stearns said, "There's no more room at the inn, ... and we need to do something different.
At the March 18 county board meeting, commissioners learned that the City of Sebeka is proposing to buy the former Sebeka American Legion No. 456 building and land that have been a subject of debate for the last two or three years. The Legion is located on three parcels of land. Two of the parcels were declared tax-forfeited in 2012. The First National Bank of Sebeka held a mortgage on the remaining parcel. In August 2012, certified letters notifying the Sebeka Legion of their status were mailed. The Sheriff's Department served an official notice of forfeiture during the week of Aug.
Upgrading the Wadena County transfer station is one of the perennial topics that is discussed at least once a year, and then tabled. The transfer station is the place where recyclable materials are brought and stored until they can be transported, and the place where and individual residents can bring their garbage, tires, old household appliances, etc., and pay a fee to have the county dispose of them.
For the past two months, the Wadena County Sheriff's Department has had to send some of its inmates to other jails, due to lack of space. It has been several years since this was necessary. Sheriff Mike Carr told us in a telephone interview on March 19 that he has been boarding out between 8 and 10 people per day since January. The cost for out-of-county boarding was $3,246 as of March 19. The Wadena County Jail has 27 beds, but may only use 23 of them because of Minnesota Department of Corrections staffing regulations.
Wadena commissioners voted March 11 to accept the recommendation of Social Services Director Paul Sailer and County Engineer Ryan Odden to transfer the Friendly Rider Transit Program and the Volunteer Driver Program from Social Services to the Highway Department, effective April 1. Reasons for the transfer include Sailer's imminent retirement, Odden's willingness to house the program at Highway, and the purchase and remodeling of the former Bob's Auto building to house the Friendly Rider Transit Program.
Wadena commissioners learned at their March 11 board meeting that County Attorney Kyra Ladd had interviewed a suitable candidate for the vacant position of Assistant County Attorney. Ladd told the board that she would like to hire Brice Norton, an attorney with seven years' experience as a clerk for the chief judge of the First Judicial District of Minnesota, chambered in Glencoe, in McLeod County. The First Judicial District includes seven counties, three of them in the metro area.
Wadena commissioners heard from BKV Group partner Bruce Schwartzman in a special board meeting March 7 about his architect firm's plan to remodel the upper level of the courthouse.
Wadena commissioners heard a detailed proposal March 4 regarding reorganizing some of the upper-level and lower-level courthouse spaces to create an office for the new county coordinator who is expected to be hired by May 1.
The Wadena County Board of Commissioners spent a lot of time at its meetings on Feb. 12 and again on Feb.18 hashing out the issue of where the new county coordinator will have his or her office, after hiring takes place, estimated for May 1. It suddenly occurred to the commissioners about two weeks ago that there is no office space available for the new county coordinator. The Courthouse is filled to overflowing with employees and spaces for providing public services.