Commissioners again go over 'regularly established' events in ordinance

There will be a public hearing about the large gathering ordinance.

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The large gathering ordinance is due for another amendment, as Wadena County commissioners decided on March 9. Any amendments would come after a public hearing.

While a large gathering ordinance is needed, the capacity of the events should not be a one size fits all approach and established events should be excluded from the ordinance, as commissioner Murlyn Kreklau expressed. The events would still follow other county and state requirements.

The ordinance was adopted in 1978 for the health, safety and welfare of event attendees and the community. In 1987 and 2019, the ordinance was updated. The updated ordinance took effect in January 2020.

The ordinance was rediscovered in 2019 due to a possible event coming to the county, though it has been valid since 1978, according to county attorney Kyra Ladd.

Commissioners have continuously circled back to this portion, especially for the Nimrod Bull Bash: “This ordinance shall not apply to any regularly established, permanent place of worship, stadium, athletic field, auditorium, or similar permanently established place, where shows or exhibitions are held. This ordinance shall not apply to government sponsored fairs, held on a regularly established fairgrounds.”


Read the full ordinance:

Ordinance No. 6 Recorded by inforumdocs on Scribd

With the Bull Bash starting in 2002, commissioners say the event is “regularly established.” However, because this portion has been in place since 1978 the Bull Bash is not considered “regularly established,” Ladd said. Any event would have had to start prior to 1978 for this condition. Commissioners would like to see this changed for events that happen year after year.

While the ordinance was discussed throughout 2020 for the Bull Bash, their county level paperwork would have met the ordinance requirements. The state level requirements due to the pandemic became the issue, as Ladd and commissioner Sheldon Monson said.

The ordinance does not require the event hosts to gain board approval every year. The information and fee is submitted to the county and if there are no issues, it is approved. An appeal process brings the event to the board.

The ordinance does not apply to one event rather all large assemblies at shows and exhibitions in the county. The board could establish a process for events that have been in place for a certain number of years. Though the board needs to be careful about applying one set of rules to established events and another for non-established events, Ladd said. That type of change could lead to legal issues.

Commissioners are also interested in changing the limit on the number of attendees. Commissioner Bill Stearns feels this is the credible way to go instead of changing a date for established events.

These ideas and more will be discussed at a public hearing. The date has not been decided.

The board also approved disbanding the ordinance committee, which was originally formed in response to the large gathering ordinance. This ordinance is managed by the board. The other ordinances discussed are under the Public Health and Planning and Zoning departments. The committee can again be formed as issues arise.


Sheriff’s Office cameras and aerial vehicle policies

After purchasing body cameras and a drone in 2019, the Sheriff’s Office learned of a required public comment period that is typically held prior to their purchase. Ladd said it was a mistake, not deliberately, made by the office when originally presented to the board. The Wadena Police Department also had a public comment period with the city council on March 9.


There were no comments at the board meeting, though chief deputy Joe Schoon received two comments from community members; one was in favor of the body worn cameras and both were against the use and purchase of the drone. Schoon said their concerns were the cost and privacy.
There are strict guidelines the office follows prior to and while using the drone, such as having a search warrant for private property. In 2020, the drone was flown 13 times in aiding different departments for test flights required for certification, searching for missing persons, structure fires, aerial views of a car crash and finding obstructions in county ditches.

Ladd said the use of the technology “has been very vital and very important” in the Sheriff’s Office work, including with the recent shootout near Nimrod .

The board approved the camera and aerial vehicle policies.

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in feature reporting as well as enhancing online articles. Readers can reach Rebecca at 507-285-7681 or
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