The semi-annual Wadena County Township Association meeting brought out over 40 residents to the Sebeka Senior Center to hear updates from officials from a variety of projects on April 24.
One topic included an update on the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project, which is now scheduled to begin construction this winter.
Speaking on the topic was Enbridge community engagement consultant Jennifer Maleitzke.
On March 1 Enbridge received a firm schedule from the Walz Administration providing specific timelines for the remaining State permits needed to begin construction on the replacement of Line 3 in Minnesota. The Administration has indicated it expects the full review of remaining permits, including stakeholder input, to be completed by this November. "Enbridge anticipates that the remaining federal permits will be finalized approximately 30-60 days after that. Based on this permitting scenario, we now expect an in-service date in the second half of 2020," according to Communication Specialist Juli Kellner,
Frozen ground won't keep the project from moving forward this winter.
Maleitzke said Wadena County sees just a small portion of the pipeline, about 7 miles, a portion of which heads through state land, Huntersville State Forest.
Regarding that land, Sheriff Mike Carr said that at one point last year a crowd of activists were evacuated from the forest about two months after they were first noticed there.
Enbridge filed for permitting in Oct. 2014 and continues to work towards the goal of replacement.
The DNR is accepting comments through May 17 on the applications for those licenses and permits that Enbridge is seeking from the DNR. The DNR will review and consider all comments received on the license and permit applications before making any final decisions. Comments may be submitted online at mndnr.gov/line3 or may also be mailed to the DNR at 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul MN 55155-4025, Attention Line 3 Replacement Applications.
Comments that express support for or opposition to the project as a whole, or that address the Minnesota Public Utility Commission's prior decisions on project need and route, do not relate to the criteria the DNR must use in making its decisions on the pending applications. Therefore, while such comments are welcome, they will not inform the DNR's decision-making.
Enbridge is planning to replace the existing Line 3 with a new line, with a capcity of 760,000 barrels per day. The Public Utilities Commission has granted Enbridge a certificate of need and a route permit for the Line 3 replacement, which would follow the existing Line 3 route in places and a new alignment in other areas.
All permit and license applications are available for review at mndnr.gov/line3.
"It's a project we need to complete," Maleitzke said. She added it will only take about six months to complete in Minnesota. The 14 miles of pipeling in Wisconsin is already complete.
Residents heard from County Commissioner Bill Stearns who shared about the current court house remodel project. The project remodeled an office area into a family/handicap accessible bathroom, it replaces outdated lighting with LED lights, and a lower level remodel is allowing law enforcement added office and storage space. There will also be additional space for a jail nurse and social worker.
While county highway engineer Ryan Odden was unable to attend, Stearns filled in the crowd about highway construction projects in the works. He shared that the County Road 4 project of realigning with HWy 10 was well underway. Crews arrived Monday, April 22, to begin digging up the ground for the new roadway. He mentioned four other projects that were approved on other County State Aid Highways. Those projects added up to over $5 million. Stearns said combining all the projects at once saved the county about $1.9 million.
Stearns also updated the group about the decision to pull out of South Country Health Alliance. Wadena County is joined by Todd and Morrision counties in that decision after there were too many unknowns in the future of the county-based insurance group, Stearns said.
The crowd also heard an update from Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr, who shared that the office has been busy fielding 6,550 calls for service in the first quarter of the year, that included 60 canine assists. He noted that one canine assist involved tracking an individual about one and a half miles.
The drug task force has been involved in 12 felony arrests. The jail remains at full capacity with 27 inmates. The office has been involved in 120 prison transports. Out of county warrant pickups were also frequent including recent pickups in New Jersey, Virginia and Florida.
Region 5 board member Murlyn Kreklau shared about grant opportunities through Region 5 that can assist with various projects in the communities.