City prepares for drainage project near fairgrounds

Jefferson Street North and South to see road work in 2025.

Jefferson Street in Wadena is set to undergo a mill and overlay project in 2025 that will likely include replacement of some utilities. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

As the city council continues to meet electronically, the projects keep rolling through.

After receiving $5 million in bonds in 2018 for Hwy 10 environmental analysis, environmental cleanup and storm water drainage, the first phase of the project approved in 2019 was for removing and replacing contaminated city utilities along Hwy 10 with a cost of $2.6 million. The second phase is for storm water drainage, specifically near the Wadena County Fairgrounds. Bolton & Menk principal engineer Phil Martin said the plan is to begin the second phase slowly to allow time to assess the actual amount of funds left from the bond with preliminary engineering starting in September. The construction cost is estimated at $1 million to $1.2 million with professional services from Bolton & Menk at $203,780.

Martin also explained an upcoming MnDOT project for 2025 on Hwy 71 and Hwy 29, with a mill and overlay project on Hwy 71 from Franklin Ave. to Birch Ave. and from Birch Ave. to Elm Ave. The second portion will likely require replacing utilities, according to Martin. A feasibility study for $10,556 will be completed to understand the challenges, the cost to the city and the possible assessments required, similar to the CSAH 4 project.

With Gov. Tim Walz’s stay at home orders in place until May 4, City Administrator Janette Bower shared her hopes of seeing facilities and businesses around town open again. She shared Hometown Crafts has reopened due to providing essential materials to the hospital. Greiman’s Printing will also reopen due to providing essential materials to agricultural businesses and the hospital. Bower discussed how the orders do not say that campgrounds have to be closed, so the city is currently planning to open the campgrounds as of the scheduled May 1. The bathrooms would be open since it is a public space, though informational signs with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be posted. Chief of police Naomi Plautz added statewide direction from Walz should come by the end of the week. Camp sites could also be used for Tri-County Health Care staff if a surge of COVID-19 patients occurs, according to Bower.

Mayor George Deiss shared an idea from Bower called the Great Howl where people go outside and scream at 8 p.m. in Alaska. Deiss posted his version of uniting in one voice on Facebook on April 15. Deiss invites the community to express their feelings of wanting to scream by proclaiming, “Yes, we are Wadena strong” at 6 p.m. daily.


In other actions, the board approved:

  • April 24 as Arbor Day and the month of May as Arbor Month in Wadena.

  • The resignation of firefighter Jason Wright and the hiring of firefighter Nathan Biederman.

  • A temporary liquor licence for the Wadena County Fairgrounds, though the fair dates might change, according to Bower and Deiss.

  • A change to the snowmobile trail route to increase the safety of riders and drivers by moving the trail from crossing the Walmart and dentist office entrances to NW Alfred Ave. Council member Jesse Gibbs commented the route provided less curves.

  • A hangar lease agreement with William Knutson, who hopes to use the 48-by-60-foot space for Experimental Aircraft Association activities including building, education and mounting of aircrafts and drones.

  • Removing tree stumps from the city’s right-of-way portion at the Folkestad East Addition for $7,250. Bower said the stumps will be removed from a 30 foot area, which is the standard city street width, rather than the entire 80 feet area since the additional 50 feet would require water and sewer infrastructure which the city will complete in the future. The current removal allows the lots to be accessed and viewed by buyers.

  • The purchase of a battery operated fan which removes chemicals from homes for the fire department for $3,775. Andrew Browne, Fire Department secretary, explained the battery operated fan is more lightweight than the current gas operated fan. Economic development and planning and zoning director and previous fire chief Dean Uselman added there have been additional calls related to carbon monoxide but the current gas fan actually brings in carbon monoxide to the homes they are trying to remove it from.

  • A request for bids on the Liquor Store’s ramp project to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements by Nov. 1. Bower said additional projects had been considered but due to the store’s feasibility study and the climate caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they decided to complete only the ramp.

  • Utilities superintendent David Evans’ request to place the electric vehicle charging station in the Depot parking lot instead of the northwest corner of the Super One parking lot. There will be two spots designated for charging vehicles on the east side of the Depot lot closest to the informational kiosk. Evans said the spots provide a better face of the city with a view of the park and downtown along with providing easier access.

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