A group of 12 business representatives gathered to discuss the Hwy 10 construction beginning in April with the task of making this a positive atmosphere. The businesses represented are centered in the downtown area, where people might simply pass by instead of turning into the construction zone.

With ideas shared, a plan has been set in motion by Leighton Broadcasting Perham account executive TamiJo Aune for radio promotions and the prize of a new purple car from Nereson Automotive and the Heartland Chevy Dealer Group and Vikings tickets for people who fill their passports, which can be stamped by business owners who opt to be a sponsor. The promotions aim to reach people outside of Wadena, and for those who drive through Wadena they can find "Curby the Cone" on signs and enjoy humor and events along the way.

When people shop at the sponsored stores, they will receive a stamp for spending $100. Each passport gains people an entry to win the car as well as gift cards and other items donated by businesses along the way. If people win these smaller items their name will be returned to the drawing for the car, which will be drawn at a block party near the end of construction.

The group hopes to host the party on Aug. 27, with a goal of getting Aldrich Ave. to Colfax Ave. closed for an evening party and possibly having a cook-off, street dancing, a cone decorating contest, music or entertainment and mini-cones for children to decorate. Another location idea is the Depot and Burlington Park, where it might be easier to hold a longer event, as Ron Greiman of Greiman’s Printing brought up. The group also loved Northwest AqwaTek Solutions project hydrogeologist Kristina Anderson's idea of having MnDOT showcase their excavating equipment for people to view and children to learn about.

Before the end celebration, the promotional kickoff and construction must begin. Within the promotions, the focus is shopping and winning in Wadena and not the construction that is going on.

The addition of signs, including directions for where businesses are located, and "Curby the Cone" will be placed around town as allowed by MnDOT. Greiman shared Doug Curtis' design of "Curby the Cone" and the suggested names. Curby will serve as a mascot, however, there are still questions on where to place the signs, such as on lampposts or other places around town. With the mascot decided, a Facebook page will be formed and a PDF version will become available for people to use. "Curby the Cone" is also the proposed hashtag for the construction project.

"Curby the Cone" was designed by Doug Curtis of Greiman’s Printing and will be the mascot for the construction project.
"Curby the Cone" was designed by Doug Curtis of Greiman’s Printing and will be the mascot for the construction project.

The group hopes to keep people coming back by having unique events that other towns do not have throughout the summer. One of the popular ideas is holding sand castle contests, like the city used to have years ago during June Jubilee in front of the Depot.

"I just remember (the city) always brought in a great big load of sand and then they'd set up their trailers and they'd have their big band and whatever right there by the sand and they'd have a beach party," said Shelly Salge of Boondocks Cafe.

Another idea people again grew excited about was having a space for children to explore different pieces of equipment, such as tractors, combines and police, EMT and fire vehicles. Paulette Ohm of 1776 Clothing Company encouraged and welcomed people's ideas, which will continue at the next meeting on March 4. For now, business representatives agreed on hosting an event on the first Thursday of every month in the summer on June 4, July 2 and Aug. 6. While they hope to keep people engaged and host consistent events they are also realistic about the amount of events they can accomplish.

One of the key aspects emphasized was businesses supporting businesses and highlighting other town events already planned to create enthusiasm and bring people out. Attendees also hope for businesses on Hwy 10 to join the planning. A lot of businesses on Hwy 10, such as John's Auto Care, the Municipal Liquor Store and the Holiday Station, will struggle with accessibility, according to Salge.

"Ouch, I can't imagine. ... I'm scared. I can't imagine them," Ohm said.

Funding the plans

The group has received $5,000 from Sourcewell, according to Central Minnesota Credit Union Wadena branch manager Kelly Wong and Ohm, though Wong plans to ask City Administrator Janette Bower if the funds are only for signs or include other elements. There will also be funding from the Wadena Development Authority and the Convention and Visitors Bureau with the amounts uncertain currently. The promotions that Aune is running are separate from these funds, with about 50 businesses needed to sponsor the advertisements and prizes.