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Some improved jail population statistics have softened the blow from the county's failure to obtain state bonding money to build a Wadena County Justice Center, although the issue of jail space has not gone away, according to county officials, after an Aug. 2 special commissioner meeting. Lane Waldahl, chairman of the Wadena County Board, said the county simply cannot afford the proposed $16 million structure and could not bond the money during the previous legislative session. "There's just no way we can do it," he said.
Hewitt Mayor Luke Mitchell, 25, drives a big truck, is transforming an old school bus into a camper and loves riding his four-wheeler, but it is his position as one of the youngest mayors in the history of Hewitt, population 268, that has taken him on the ride of his life. "I figured I would learn a whole lot, and I have learned a lot," Mitchell said about his experience since becoming mayor when he was the ripe old age of 23. "You really get to know the community.
Several weeks ago I scribbled my signature on a deposit check and began hauling a lifetime's worth of clothes, furniture and random stuff into my new apartment. After getting somewhat settled, I proudly bought a welcome mat decorated with a pineapple, a symbol of hospitality, at Family Dollar and laid it before my front door for visitors. Unfortunately, the most frequent guests across my mat are not welcome visitors, but little black bugs--icky, gross, crunchy, nasty, little black bugs.
Former Wadena resident Leroy Vanderpool, 58, returns to town with a story of faith and the everyday challenges of living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at 7 p.m. on Saturday at St. John Lutheran Church in Wadena. ALS is also known as a Lou Gehrig's disease and is a terminal illness causing muscle weakness and gradual paralysis. Leroy and his family lived in Wadena from 1982 to 1997 when he worked for Wadena Technical College as a safety trainer for municipal utilities across Minnesota.
An unexpected discovery last May that the warehouse serving as a garage for the Friendly Rider Transit System is listed on the National Register of Historic Places is putting a crimp in the county's plan to renovate the deteriorating building. Wadena County Social Services purchased the warehouse in 2003 and began their plans to renovate the building a year and half ago, according to Pam Jenson, administrative services supervisor.
Verndale native Christopher Schmitz, 26, will host a book signing from 2-6 p.m. on Aug.
Substantial financial losses from psychiatric services have caused Northern Pines Mental Health Center to consider discontinuing psychiatric services offered there, according to mental health officials. Mark Bublitz, executive director of Northern Pines, said the final decision will be made this November following two years of study. He said the center has incurred substantial losses ranging from $180,000 to $250,000 for more than four years. According to Bublitz, insurance reimbursement for psychiatric services is poor and does not cover the actual cost of covering psychiatric services.
Buckling into the passenger's seat next to gangly 15-year-olds eager to cruise into adulthood by obtaining their drivers licenses may not fit most people's idea of a relaxing retirement, but for retired English teacher Larry Brincefield, drivers' education provides extra income and an opportunity to teach -- with a few adventures along the way. Brincefield decided three years ago to turn his 30 years of experience as a part-time driver's education instructor for Bertha-Hewitt and Wadena-Deer Creek schools into the Wadena Driving school.
A 2006 ballot question regarding the Motor Vehicle Sales Tax (MVST) raised discussion from Wadena County officials in support of the measure, as well as from those who oppose the amending of the Minnesota State Constitution for a sales tax. MVST is the 6.5 percent sales tax applied to the sale of new and used motor vehicles in Minnesota. When the tax was implemented during the 1980s, it was intended to eventually be dedicated entirely to transportation funding.
Errors in payroll prompted the Wadena County Board to authorize payments of funds to three county employees that were dispersed without board approval. The issue of primary concern involved former highway engineer Russull Larson, who received $4,593 in accrued sick leave on Feb. 15 upon leaving county employment. Larson was not entitled to this payment, said County Attorney Kyra Ladd. "I think we have to do it," said County Commissioner Mary Harrison about the motion to approve the payments to Larson at the July 19 board meeting.