County begins hiring for Human Services director

Wadena County board members include commissioners Sheldon Monson (left), Bill Stearns, board chair Chuck Horsager, Jon Kangas and Jim Hofer. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Wadena County is now advertising for a Human Services director, and recent plans to combine the Public Health and Human Services departments were halted for the time being.

The board unanimously gave approval to move ahead with hiring after reviewing the position description and requesting changes. Changes included adding childcare protection to the experience list and requiring a master’s degree rather than just a four-year degree in social work, psychology, sociology, public health, public administration or related field.

The position description states “The Director of the Department of Human Services is responsible for developing, directing and managing the delivery of quality services and programs to county residents and ensuring compliance with state and federal human services and income maintenance statutes and regulations.”

This position reports to County Coordinator Ryan Odden, is non-union, has benefits and is a grade 59 for salary.

When the topic came up for discussion, commissioner Bill Stearns said in his opinion, the county needed boots on the ground now in this position rather than waiting for a decision on combining public health and human services. Other commissioners agreed, including Jim Hofer, who added that the topic should continue to be looked at in the future. Commissioner Jon Kangas added that the county has many issues to deal with right now, so disbanding the committee may be best for the time being. The board voted unanimously to disband the committee recently formed.


The board also discussed the interview process for the director position. Odden said he would write a process that they would follow. Commissioners recommended commissioners Kangas and Hofer to serve on the interview panel along with numerous other departments. Among those mentioned were public health, human services, law enforcement, corrections, a hospital representative and county attorney. During the last hiring, the entire board looked at the final two or three candidates.

In other actions, the board approved:

  • Setting a date of 1 p.m., Feb. 12, at the Todd County Government Services building for a joint meeting of Todd and Wadena County commissioners about community corrections.

  • Awarding second financial publishing to the Verndale Sun.

  • Ordering and purchasing new vests for Wadena County Sheriff’s deputies on the Wadena/Hubbard Emergency Response Team. The cost of each of the five vests was $1,937. This would be a total of $9,685, taken from the general reserve account.

  • Preparation and acceptance of quotes and bids for equipment rental, metal culverts, dust control, aggregate materials, aggregate crushing, bituminous materials, crack seal, diesel fuel, roadside weed spraying, traffic signs, sign posts, salt, sand, and road striping for routine maintenance and operations of the Highway Department, totaling $625,000.

  • Review of the operating rules and guidelines with various edits suggested for final approval at another date.

  • Tabling the hiring of a social services supervisor.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in rural Deer Creek, Minn., where he is starting to homestead with his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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