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Firemen receive approval for equipment purchase

The Wadena Fire Department received the green light Tuesday to purchase an Arctic Cat Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) and accessories for fighting grass fires.

The $19,622 purchase is being funded with pull tab proceeds raised at the Whiskey Creek Saloon, fundraising dollars raised by the Fireman's Relief Association and donations from Leaf River Ag Service and Land O' Lakes.

Wadena Fireman Dean Uselman told the Wadena City Council the UTV will be equipped with a trailer, tank and pump and outlined the price quotes for the council. Uselman pointed out all purchases are being made from area businesses.

"We get a lot of fires in marshy areas where you can't go with a pickup and this would be a machine that would allow us to gain access to those remote areas," Uselman said.

Wadena Councilman Jessie Gibbs asked Uselman for his thoughts on the longevity of the new firefighting equipment. It was not a question that came with an easy answer. The consensus was the longevity of the equipment will be determined by the amount of use it receives.

"I would estimate this thing would last many years," Uselman said. "Our main wildland fire season in a typical year runs from mid-April to the end of May. Some years, when we don't get a lot of snow, we got a lot of calls, other years we get very few calls."

The council also approved:

• A Fireman's Relief Association Increase Proposal based on their 2017 financial recap. The increase of the current rate of $2,530 a year will be $2,750.

• A resolution to issue $1 million in Electric Utility Revenue bonds to fund a portion of the $2.2 million utilities building under construction on the site of the old Wadena Airport. The council also approved issuing the bonds at the appropriate time. Providing advice to the council was George Eilertson of Northland Securities.

• The vacation of a utility easement in the Wadena Industrial Park addition.

• A contract with Bolton and Menk Engineering to prepare a facility plan and the final design of the Highway 10 Project.

• A contract with Bolton and Menk to prepare a preliminary assessment report for the County State Aid Highway project proposed by Wadena County. Five or six properties are expected to be affected by water and sewer line replacement.

• Granting an option to purchase and the right to first refusal to Kern Electronics for property adjacent to their business site in the Industrial Park for the next five years.

• An extension of the Township Fire Agreement contract for the next four years.

• Updating the city code with ordinances adopted in 2017.

• A wellness program for full-time city employees covered under the health insurance plan. The approval gives the city an opportunity to apply for a $1,500 wellness grant from the National Joint Powers Alliance.

• A three-year contract with the Police Department Union.

• A three-year contract with non-union city employees for wages and fringes.

• The hiring of Jason Hofer as a Wadena police officer. Police Chief Naomi Plautz told the council Hofer was one of seven candidates to fill a position vacated by Lance Uselman. Hofer has 14 years of law enforcement experience and has been a member of the Menahga Police Department for the last 11 years. Plautz would like to have Hofer begin work March 1 at Step 2.

• Advertising for architectural firms interested in doing preliminary and final designs and providing a cost estimate as part of a remodeling project on the First National Bank building. The building was purchased last year by the city to serve as a new home for the public library.

• Setting March 13 for a special assessment hearing of curb, gutter and blacktop work on Hemlock Ave. after receiving eight bids. The low bid of $72,438.10 was submitted by Anderson Brothers Construction of Brainerd. The 5 p.m. hearing will be held in the Council Chambers.

• Purchase of a Dodge pickup by the Electric Department for the quoted price of $25,131.

• The hiring of part-time employees by Whitetail Run Manager Kevin Ross for the 2018 golfing season.

• An April 25 meeting at 3 p.m. for the council's annual board of review.

• A transfer from the Liquor Fund to the Golf Fund to cover a 2017 deficit of $69,231.22.

• The appointment of Rosemary Kostrzewski to the Wadena Housing and Redevelopment Authority Board to fill the last two years of a term held by Jeanette Baymler.

• Authority for City Administrator Brad Swenson to seek a replacement for Billing Clerk/Customer Service Employee Joanne Ostlund. The council also approved Ostlund's retirement plan effective May 31.