The Wadena County board of commissioners embarked on their new round of discussions and decisions with the swearing in of commissioners Mike Weyer and Murlyn Kreklau on Jan. 5. Weyer is replacing district 2 commissioner Jim Hofer and Kreklau is replacing district 4 commissioner Chuck Horsager. Hofer and Horsager completed their terms at the end of 2020.
As commissioners continuing their terms, Sheldon Monson was named chair and Jon Kangas was named vice chair. District 3 commissioner Bill Stearns is the fifth commissioner.
After a state relief package of $242 million was approved, the county received about $271,000, according to county auditor-treasurer Heather Olson. The relief package is to help businesses impacted by Gov. Tim Walz’s recent executive orders due to the pandemic as well as losses in the spring and fall. Olson said these stipulations will make the process easier than the CARES Act funding previously received and allocated.
In Wadena County, 40 businesses qualify as outlined in the executive order enacted on Nov. 12, according to Olson and Economic Alliance executive director Katie Heppner.
The funds also include a $6,000 administrative fee that the county can choose to accept. Olson recommends the county decline the funds to help more businesses and since county costs are well covered.
The county is planning for how the funds will be distributed. A planning committee will include Kreklau, Olson, Wadena Economic Development director Dean Uselman, Heppner and Region Five Development Economic Development Coordinator Melissa Radermacher. The county may add guidelines to the state’s guidelines. The plans will be further discussed at the next board meeting on Jan. 12.
The funds are to be distributed by March 15.
The first and second categories for the state funding included restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, gyms, movie theaters and large convention centers for a total of $102 million statewide. These grants did not have applications; the Minnesota Department of Revenue and the Department of Employment and Economic Development are sending out checks based on eligibility.
State unemployment insurance benefits have also been extended through April.