Wadena County Commissioners say the Wadena County Agricultural Society needs to comply with rules and regulations if they want funds to continue from the county.

Commissioner Sheldon Monson and Jon Kangas attended the most recent ag society meeting last Friday and reported that it appears things have not been running as well as they could be. The board has been struggling to add board members including three recent resignations from individuals that agreed to join the board. Without adding more, the board has been unable to have enough members to form a quorum, which is six members out of an 11-person board. Without a quorum they can't conduct business as usual. They bypassed that rule by suspending their bylaws in December, Monson said. He added that amendments can only be made to bylaws during the annual meeting. Doing so outside of that meeting goes against their bylaws.

Out of the desire to continue preparation of the next county fair, the four members on the board met, but Monson, a former Wadena County Ag Society president, noted there are other issues at hand.

"They are not current with their registrations with the Secretary of State Office, that is expired and I brought that up twice," Monson said. "I did inquire if they had paid their sales tax ... and they said they had turned everything over to their accountant, so they are unsure."

"They need to be considered in good standing with the Secretary of State and the Department of Revenue, otherwise can we be releasing funds to an organization that isn't in compliance?" Monson asked rhetorically.

Kangas spoke up that the board needs to get things straightened out as the county is allowing them to manage "millions of dollars of county property."

"We really got to try to get them on the right track now and hopefully, moving forward, they can develop into a more professional organization," Kangas said.

The Wadena County Ag Society is holding a special meeting at 7 p.m., Feb. 20, to hopefully resolve some of the issues commissioners brought up, including adding fair board members. The small group volunteers their time to see the fair continues on as it has for 126 years. Fair board meetings are typically held at 7 p.m. on the first Friday either at the fairgrounds beer garden or the Wadena VFW.

While it's clear more help is needed, Monson added that the board put on a "phenomenal" fair last year. He and other board members heard positive feedback from the community.

"There are many people that have devoted many, many hours there," Monson said.

In other actions, commissioners approved:

  • Commissioner Chuck Horsager and commissioner Jim Hofer to attend the April 15th Sourcewell Representative Assembly.

  • Advertising and receiving bids for the restroom renovation project until March 3, which includes updates to upstairs and downstairs bathrooms in the courthouse building. County Coordinator Ryan Odden said that the work will involve replacing everything from the hallway entry and throughout the interior of the bathroom. Odden said some work that does not have to be bid out will be performed by county maintenance workers.

  • The hiring of Joel Paschka as assistant county attorney II. Paschka is to start March 16 and is expected to have an annual gross salary of $96,753, with employer contributions, benefits bring that total pay to $126,229. Wadena County will now have two assistant county attorney II positions. County attorney Kyra Ladd was appreciative that commissioners approved salary increases for these positions as they were able to attract highly qualified candidates. Paschka brings 30 years of experience and the other recent assistant county attorney II hire, Adam Licari brings about 15 years of experience. "That's a lot of expertise you are going to have," Ladd said and added that they can begin to catch up on the long list of cases within the county at a much faster pace.