Plans to improve courthouse security and update a historic church are being researched as part of capital improvements for 2020.

Wadena County Commissioners discussed Monday, Nov. 25, the capital improvement needs in the coming year. In 2019, projects involve design of the courthouse restrooms; design of the Wensman building; and design of a secure elevator, involving architectural, structural and mechanical needs.

Building considerations for 2020 include putting those designs to use to renovate the courthouse restrooms, build a secure elevator and construct a Wensman build-out that would bring the work force center over to the Wensman building. The Wensman building is currently home to the Hope Center, but a large portion of the building is unused, unfinished space.

Commission chair Bill Stearns shared that the capital plan for the Wensman building could include fixing the west wall of the building and upgrading 5,500 square-feet of the building in order provide a new space for the work force center (CareerForce). This would move them out of the shared building with Wadena County Human Services. Both entities would then have separate buildings and more building and parking space. Just the design of this project was estimated at $55,000.

Commissioner Jim Hofer shared that he would not be in favor of moving forward with design costs until the county is ready to actually complete a project. He noted that he is aware of numerous design costs that have been adding up without any work being done.

Other projects on a wish-list included insulating the sheriff storage building, human services garage, HVAC at Public Health, Courthouse and Human Services, stainless steel shelves at jail kitchen, highway fire detection system and re-balancing of the HVAC in the lower level of the auditorium. Brought up in further discussion was work needed for the transit building and building a new storage building for highway vehicles in the northern part of the county.

Also brought up was the immediate need for a new roof on the historic church at the Wadena County Fairgrounds. This discussion brought up the question of whether the county has intentions of taking ownership of the buildings within the fairgrounds.

Commissioner Sheldon Monson stated that it was imperative that the secure elevator project move forward as well as the church roof project. County Coordinator Ryan Odden said he would seek out bids for both projects.

Commissioners Kangas, Chuck Horsager and Monson noted that they would like to see this list of projects along with estimates in order to take a long look at the costs coming down the pipeline.

In other actions, the board:

  • Approved rescinding a Sept. 25, 2018 motion; "Moved by Commissioner Hofer seconded by Commissioner Stearns to deposit into CPA account and designate $150,000 in 2018 and $150,000 in 2019, then $90,000 to Sheriff for equipment mobiles and portable remainder to legislative grant." Those funds were from a 2018 Legislative Grant in the amount of $600,000.
  • Approved transfer of the remainder of the 2018 Legislative Appropriation to non-levied building fund in the amount of $290,921.54.
  • Approved replacement hire Hayley Maloney, social worker, at a rate of $23.34 an hour.
  • Approved replacement hire Larry Marquardt as a part-time driver in the transit department at a rate of $13.20 an hour.