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County coordinator/engineer role adjusts following review

County Coordinator/engineer Ryan Odden1 / 2
Curt Kreklau Jr.2 / 2

The future of the county coordinator/highway engineer position is changing following a self evaluation and closed session with Ryan Odden and the county board.

Commissioners shared a summary of the evaluation May 14. The summary noted that Odden had spent roughly 50% of his time in the county coordinator position and 50% serving in the highway engineer role. The board had originally developed a timeshare of 60% engineer and 40% coordinator, but Odden noted that even serving 50% as coordinator was not enough. Odden expressed the need/want for training related to the coordinator duties but due to the time allocation issues, there isn't any time to engage in any training opportunities.

Odden indicated that both positions could be full-time positions. The board consensus was to have the pro rata time share of the positions adjusted so that 70% of his time will be spent as coordinator and 30% as engineer.

The board also had a consensus to have a work session within the next year to examine organizational issues to include the efficiency of duties of the shared role. In a previous meeting, the board appointed Odden to the split role for another four years.

The board consensus is that Odden exceeds the expectations as highway engineer and that he meets expectations as county coordinator.

While it seemed Odden had enough on his plate, it was noted that he'll also be taking on duties supervising the work of the Human Resources Department after the resignation of former director Curt Kreklau Jr.

The board shared that the position of HR director not be filled at this time and that Ryan perform his duties out of the HR department while at the courthouse.

A further part of the motion includes allowing Odden to contract out professional engineering work to a qualified professional engineer on a part-time and "as needed" basis.

In other actions, the board:

• Heard from Lori Vrolson, Executive Director for the Central Minnesota Council on Aging, who made her annual presentation. The council serves a 14 county area and they award out about 2.5 million of federal funding. In Wadena County just over $67,000 goes towards supportive services, keeping older adults in their homes. Wadena County receives about 3 percent of the total funding, consistent with the population base. Much of this is used to support food services like congregate or home delivered meals. Vrolson said what's lacking in Wadena COunty is a service to provide supportive transportation, such as a service that would take the person grocery shopping or someone to provide housekeeping.

Vrolson said she expects changes in the pipeline including two providers that have requested funding to operate in the area. She could not go into further detail at this time. Vrolson also spoke about the Senior Linkage Line, a telephone and in person service. The plan was to work with Tri-COunty Health Care to offer this service in Wadena COunty. COmmissioner Jon Kangas suggested a satellite location in the northern part of the county would be useful. Vrolson was connected with Sebeka Mayor Dave Anderson to discuss the options.

Vrolson shared that the needs for an aging population are only going to increase in coming years. She noted that Wadena County is already ahead of the state average, with 23% of the population over age 65. By 2030, she said the baby boomers will be in their mid 80s and in greater need of these supportive services in order to stay independent.

Wadena County's contribution to this service is $1,520 a year.

• Approved the purchase of office furniture for the two attorney/client rooms at a total cost of $3,293.20, which included four tables and 16 chairs. The board also approved spending $200 to add windows to the conference room doors for security and an easy way to see if the rooms are being used. After discussion about scheduling software, they agreed to see how the rooms are used to see what needs may arise.

• Approved, much to the delight of several county departments, new payroll software at a cost of $31,026.32 per year, plus a one time $4,000 implementation fee. The county currently pays about $15,000 for three services to provide what this one service is able to provide. While the cost is higher, employees noted a cost savings should be seen and funds could be found within the current budget to pay for the increased cost. Numerous employees spoke favorably of the new Paycom software. Wadena County would be the first county in the area to use this software. Payroll Janet Kern spoke favorably of the software and thanked the board for investing in the department.

• Heard from engineer Odden that maintenance staff performed work on a county ditch north of Staples and within a private property to improve a drainage issue that was affecting the road bed and the private property. He noted it has been an issue for about four years that appears to be resolved now.

• Odden shared that curb and gutter was complete Monday on the Cty Hwy 4 realignment project. Dirt work is underway and pavement should poured in two weeks to finish that project, making way for Hwy 10 work to begin.