The cost is higher than anticipated, but the wait will soon be over for the Wadena Municipal Airport to have a crosswind runway installed.

Wadena City Council members voted unanimously to approve the bid from Blombeck Construction, Eagle Bend, of $520,275 for construction of the runway during a special meeting, Thursday, June 25.

A total of eight bids were received and the highest came in more than $600,000 over the engineer's estimate of $425,650.

The project creates a runway in addition to the primary runway to provide for wind coverage not adequately provided by the primary runway. The added runway improves safety significantly for those looking to land during what would otherwise be a crosswind, blowing a plane off-kilter. The project includes construction of a new turf runway, turf connector taxiway, reflective markers and signage, and miscellaneous site improvements. The current airport was built in 1997 and conversations to create a crosswind runway have been ongoing for over 10 years.

The entire project comes in at $581,075 when the $60,000 of construction administration engineering fees are included from Short Elliot Hendrickson Inc., the firm handling administration, observation and closeout of the project. A MnDOT Aeronautics grant pays for 75% of the project, while the city of Wadena covers the remainder -- $145,269.

In other actions, the council:

  • Tabled acceptance of Jeff Browne’s resignation from the Wadena Development Authority. WDA director Dean Uselman said his understanding was that Browne decided he’d rather continue out his term through December 2021. Further discussion continued from this topic including the possibility of term limits and the desire to follow the statute, which states that board members should be actively involved in business in the city. Two current board members Bill Stearns and Terry Lynk were in question, both being retired Wadena businessmen. The council was prepared to appoint Cindy McCullough to fill out the remainder of Browne’s term before hearing that Browne was still interested in the position. Also on the board are Mayor George Deiss, councilman Wade Miller, Kelly Wong, and Kyle Davis. WDA director Dean Uselman, City Administrator Janette Bower and City Attorney Jeff Pederson also serve on the board in ex-officio roles. The topic is to be discussed at the next WDA meeting and recommendations to be made at the following city council meeting.

  • Extended the time frame for loan payment deferrals for the city of Wadena Fix-up and MIF loans to September 30. The original date was set to end June 30. The extension addresses those businesses that are not yet operating at full capacity, experiencing losses, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Adopted a City of Wadena COVID-19 preparedness plan. On June 5, 2020, Governor Tim Walz released Executive Order 20-74, mandating critical sector businesses, including cities, adopt a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.The city’s plan states that employees will maintain 6-foot social distancing when feasible, wash hands and follow other good hygiene practices. The public is to also follow guidelines including sanitizing and reading screening questions before approaching the counter of the administrative building. The front door handles, front counter and sanitizing and screening station are to be sanitized hourly. Department directors are required to monitor how effective the program has been implemented. All employees are to self-monitor for signs of COVID-19.

  • Approved the sale of Lot 29, Block 1, Folkestad’s East to Dennis and Eileen Martin. Discussion on the topic included construction on the lot. The sale was approved with the understanding that the Martin’s would place or construct a garage on the lot within a year. Council members wanted to ensure this would happen by requesting a building permit be bought within 30 days. If a building was not on the site within the year, the Martin’s would have to pay for another building permit. There was no penalty for not building on the site, nor would they forfeit the property. Bower said she has been approached by people wanting to buy tax-forfeited without plans to build on them. Those requests have been denied. The goal is to sell the lots to those that will increase the property value. The property was sold for $5,000, to be paid for by July 31, 2020.

All actions taken were unanimous. Councilman Jessie Gibbs was not present in person or by phone.