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The Wadena County Social Services Board hesitated to increase the $67 hourly rate it pays for in-home therapy to $69 in the light of employee wage negotiations, but eventually approved it after a social services supervisor explained the value of the service. Jane Erckenbrack, a social services supervisor, told commissioners that Lutheran Social Services provides therapists for intensive in-home sessions for families. The program can use medical assistance if families qualify for it, otherwise it is the only program where the county can pay for services for those who don't have a pay source.
After pursuing some unfruitful efforts to share a county highway engineer, Wadena County is opening up the position vacated by Joel Ulring in October. Commissioner Rodney Bounds said the opening was an opportunity to look into some other options, but now he is satisfied the county cannot have either a part-time engineer or a shared engineer. Auditor and Treasurer Char West sent a letter to the counties in the Region Five transportation committee to ask if any would be interested in sharing an engineer with Wadena County. They all responded that they were unable to do this, she said.
After a tumultuous 2009, Wadena County Solid Waste will enter 2010 with a new department head, three full-time employees and a reorganized system. "I'm happy with the way things are going," said attendant Chris Harshaw. "It looks like we've got a pretty bright future ahead of us." Harshaw was hired as a part-time employee in February just before the transfer station was temporarily closed in March due to personnel issues. Following the closure, he served as the temporary solid waste supervisor and accepted a full-time permanent position as an attendant starting Dec.
Wadena County unemployment for November was at 9.4 percent, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development. Unemployment was 9.6 percent in November 2008. The unemployment rate dropped each month from July's rate of 10 percent until rising again in November. Unemployment was 8.5 percent in October. The child support caseload in November was the same as December 2008 at 861, according to the Wadena County Social Services recession report.
Wadena County commissioners scheduled an emergency department head meeting for Tuesday, Dec. 22 so they can trim another $123,000 from the 2010 budget to allow for proposed state unallotments next year. Auditor/ Treasurer Char West told commissioners the county's general fund would be short by nearly $94,000 if the state goes through with a proposed unallotment of $203,629 in 2010 once the unallotment is subtracted from the net $109,885 in the preliminary levy.
Thrill seekers can get strapped into the Sizzler and ride down a Magic Carpet slide when the carnival returns to the midway at the 2010 Wadena County Fair. The carnival has been absent from the fair for the past two years. Inflatables provided fun for the younger children, but the older kids were left without a ride. "Most of the community feels a fair isn't the fair without the carnival," Ag Society President Sheldon Monson said.
Bertha-Hewitt alumna Heidi Reuter loves to put smiles on people's faces. The 29-year-old is Wadena's newest dentist and the first woman to hold the position in town, according to Dr. James Matthiae. "I'm excited to practice in a rural area and become a part of a rural community again," Reuter said. Reuter will join Matthiae at his practice on First Street Southeast Jan. 4. She is the first dentist Matthiae has worked with since he started his dental office in Wadena in 1982, he said. She is excited to learn from Matthiae, she said.
Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden suggested several new fees he thought the council should consider during a discussion of the 2010 license and fee schedule at the December council meeting.
The Wadena City Council approved the 2010 license and fee schedule with changes ranging from a new fee for the private hiring of police officers to decreased golf membership costs for students. Police Chief Bruce Uselman explained that counties and cities have been getting requests for officers for private details for domestic violence situations and extra security for celebrations such as wedding dances. The Wadena County Sheriff's Department recently had a request for a deputy, he said. The city doesn't have a fee in place for these situations and Uselman suggested $45 per hour.
Roger and Leona Schiller's place in rural Wadena looks like a quiet country home but inside is a bustling village with children skating, a choir singing and Santa ho-ho-hoing. Roger, 73, constructed an 18-foot-long and 4-foot-wide Christmas village made of miniature Department 56 homes, shops, churches and various buildings in his basement. The buildings are lit from the inside and cast a warm glow on the village. Some of the pieces also make sounds and move. A dance hall lights up to reveal twirling couples inside.