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Wadena County Commission: Another 24,000 sandbags coming for flood prep

The Leaf River reaches toward the tops of the banks Friday, March 22, near Bluffton. As spring has finally arrived, snow melt and rain have begun adding up in area rivers and streams. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Wadena County Commissioners approved a 60 day disaster declaration March 19, due to impending flood water damage expected in the area.

Along with the declaration, commissioners approved expenses of $5,000 related to the flooding, including the purchase of 24,000 sand bags, adding to the 20,000 already at the county.

Sheriff Mike Carr and Sgt. Bryan Savaloja brought up a flood declaration and said they have volunteers set up for providing lunches.

County residents can request these sand bags, which are just bags. Residents would have to find the sand to fill them. The county does have some options for gathering sand to fill those bags as needed.

In other board action, the commission:

• Approved appointing Tammy Lupkes as deputy auditor/treasurer. The recommendation came from the personnel committee. Commissioner Chuck Horsager noted that there is a need for this. The county has not had a deputy auditor for about a year and one half. The appointment was a promotion for Lupkes, who saw a 20 cent raise on her base pay, effective March 20.

• Approved the purchase of seven used overhead storage cabinets for the new deputies area at a cost of $2,568. Funds coming from the non-levy building fund. Hofer suggested that the facilities committee could come up with a budget for these purchases moving forward.

• Tabled a decision on purchasing bunk beds for the Wadena County Jail. Single bunks at $374 a piece and double bunk at $564 a piece. For a total cost of $9,022.39. The bunks in the jail are 30 years old, Sheriff Carr said. The two quotes obtained were not similar models, so commissioners requested the purchase be researched further before a decision was made.

• Supported funding the cash call amount of $1,112,360, to South Country Health Alliance, with much regret. The cash call was needed to continue service through the year, even though Wadena County voted to get out of the county based health insurance program.

The funds would likely be returned to the county in one lump sum or over five years, Commissioner Bill Stearns said. Many details were still being ironed out and were dependent on the actions of all 11 counties in the alliance.