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The old courthouse tower is standing tall at the Wadena County Historical Society, but needs extensive repairs before it can stand proud. At the Aug. 15 county board meeting, Sandi Pratt, director Wadena County Historical Society, requested the board consider chipping in some of the money needed to restore the tower. "We want to make this a focal point of Wadena," she said about the society's plans for the tower. The tower is a remnant of the original 1886 court house that was torn down in 1970.
An overcrowded jail has the concept of a drug court popping up in discussions at county board meetings and in county departments. A drug court is a collaborative effort among law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, community corrections and other justice system members to handle cases involving substance-abusing offenders.
Wadena County is introducing a new voting machine for the fall election season to enhance the voting capacity of people with disabilities. Beginning with the September primaries, voters can use the AutoMARK voting machine to cast their ballot. The machine has features that accommodate people with sight and hearing impairments, as well as dexterity disabilities, said Rosalie Miller, election administrator. The AutoMARK meets the requirements imposed by the Help America Vote Act of 2002. HAVA was passed to ensure that all Americans can vote independently, she said.
Wadena Evangelical Church will celebrate the completion of a new sanctuary with a dedication service at 10 a.m. on Aug. 27--more than a year after a storm delayed the expansion project. The storm struck on June 20, 2005, nearly two months after the church turned the soil for the addition of a new sanctuary. The wind and rain ripped off half the roof and tore down the walls and steel rafters, said Jeff Heisler, pastor of Wadena Evangelical. The damage presented a great challenge to the church, he said, and taught the congregation some lessons in patience.
A traditional Indonesian engagement ceremony will transport the exotic culture of the south seas into the stained glass and brick structure of Wadena's Immanuel Lutheran Church at 8:30 and 10 a.m. on Sunday. The Rev. Dan DeBlock and the Rev. Warner Luoma will lead the ceremony announcing the engagement of the Rev. Andar Gomos Parlindungan and Reyni Lasmida Panjaitan, natives of Jakarta, Indonesia. Toba Barak culture requires the ceremony to make their marriage official. The engagement ceremony will form something of a parallel universe between Indonesia and Immanuel.
Wadena churches combined games and crafts, scripture and singing to teach Christian lessons throughout the summer during Vacation Bible Schools. Area kids gathered at the Christian and Missionary Alliance church for a "Cabin Fever" VBS program last week. They sang praise tunes in the hootie owl nest, played squirrely games and devoured wormy cakes and moose juice at the Haluwasa Cookhouse. The "Cabin Fever" program connects Bible stories to north woods imagery, said Sandy Fultz, chair of the disciple team.
Wadena County experienced an unexpected shrink in population, according to county officials after hearing a demographics report from the Region Five Development Commission. The county's 13,713 population in 2000 declined by 63 residents to 13,650 in 2005. The previous report predicted a slight increase in population over the next 10 years instead of the slight decrease the county recently experienced, said Mary Harrison, county commissioner. "I thought we were gaining," said Lane Waldahl, chairman of the board.
The Wadena County Public Health Department recently created one more link in its effort to prepare for disaster response and recovery by adding a clergy representative to the county's Emergency Medical Services Joint Task Force. Rev. Dan DeBlock, intentional interim pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, accepted the unpaid position last week.
Slow and steady progress in the development of a Geographic Information System for Wadena County has stimulated some needed expansion of the county's planning and zoning department, according to county officials. At the Aug. 1 county board meeting, Deana Skov, planning and zoning administrator, requested the addition of a clerical staff member to allow Gina Dahms, assistant planning and zoning, to devote more time to coordinating the GIS program. "It's going to grow as big as we want to let it get," she said about the program. "I kind of feel like we have this monster out here.