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Wadena building finds resting place ... for now

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The former Fastenal building is pulled unto an open lot Wednesday morning off of Birch Avenue. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal2 / 3
The interior of the former Fastenal building is seen resting on beams and moving gear Wednesday afternoon. The building will remain here until a site is prepared to the northwest at 210 Jefferson Street North. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal3 / 3

Inch by inch, the former Fastenal building snaked its way through a couple blocks of Wadena and reached its destination after just a couple hiccups Wednesday afternoon.

Randy Jonas, who was the captain of the 54-foot by 100-foot structure, with Ehrlichmann Structural Movers said the company moves about 65 buildings a year, and this one was one of the most challenging largely because of the size of the building and the lack of space to negotiate corners.

"This is big," Jonas said. "I've moved bigger, but out in the country."

The weight was another factor, Jonas said. At 80 tons, the building moved fairly easily on flat pavement, on the one block of straight away. It could even be pulled along using a skid steer to make sharp corners here and there. Jonas measured the route out and new it would fit, but it had to be perfect placement as there was only inches on each side as it made each turn.

The building stepped out onto Hwy 10 around 10 p.m. Monday night. Crews removed traffic lights and signage as the building wrapped around the corner unto Hwy 71 north. By 11 p.m. the building made the turn and crews could again install the traffic lights allowing traffic to return to the busy intersection. A crowd formed to watch the spectacle as the building continued north a block to Birch Ave. That's where things got really interesting. As the building entered the avenue the rear started to swing and a light pole needed to be removed. The 'Sweet Pickins' business sign had to be taken down to accommodate the front corner and eventually the building made the turn with inches on each end from other utility poles. But the building had to begin another turn before that first turn was done which meant a portion of stairway on a rental property had to be removed.

The action stopped around 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning after a clamp broke with the structure halfway up an incline partially in an open lot owned by Craig Folkestad and the remainder blocking off Birch Avenue right in front of Parts City Auto Parts in Wadena.

And with 80 tons of building and moving equipment on grass, tires began sinking in, causing further issues the movers quickly dealt with on Tuesday morning. They brought in mud mats to place under each of the wheels, which they moved every inch of the way. The move uphill was made easier by Polman Towing of Wadena, who winched the building up the rest of the way.

"It's fun to do," Jonas said of the work.

By Wednesday afternoon, the building was in place and Jonas and his four employees were busy blocking up the building so it is fully safe to leave in place until the building makes one more move. That move won't happen until another lot is ready with a foundation in place just to the northwest of the current position at 210 North Jefferson Street.

That lot is also owned by Craig Folkestad, who said he owns the former Fastenal building with other partners who are looking forward to moving the building to the final spot and getting a renter in the building as soon as possible.

To get the building to that lot, another building, a two-story home will be torn down according to Folkestad. That home has been the rental residence of Cindy Becker and her family for the last 21 years. Becker said she's not yet sure where her and the other four family members will be going but is not too concerned about having to move, more so concerned about all the stuff they must move by the first week of July so the home can be demolished.

Once demolished, the building can pass through and a parking lot will go in the place of the homes foundation.

Jonas said he would have waited to move the building until the foundation was ready, but the state was urging him to move the structure as soon as possible. That's the whole reason the building had to be moved in the first place—to make way for reconstruction of Hwy 10 in 2019.

Folkestad said at this time they have no one in mind that may rent the property.

"If anyone is looking for something, they should get in contact with me," Folkestad said.

Folkestad couldn't see the Fastenal building being torn down as it's not very old and has a great future, he said. He also couldn't say enough about how pleased he was at the work Jonas and the others did in moving the structure. Making it happen certainly took a team effort.

Michael Johnson

Johnson is a graduate of Verndale Public School. He earned his associate's degree from Central Lakes College with an emphasis in English and natural resources. He earned his bachelor's degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he graduated cum laude in 2008. While there, he double-majored in English and Print Journalism. He's reported for The Advocate, student newspaper of MSUM; The Barnesville Record Review in Barnesville, Minn.; Clay County Historical Society in Moorhead, Minn.; Gillette News Record in Gillette Wyo.; Underwood News in Underwood, N.D.; and The Leader-News in Washburn, N.D. and the Brainerd Dispatch in Brainerd, Minn. Johnson has worked as a reporter for the Pioneer Journal and Perham Focus since Nov. 2017.

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