While things are moving slower than originally expected, the Tri-County Health Care hospital complex project on the west side of Wadena is making ground as council members approved another step in the process, Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The group authorized entering into a professional services agreement with Bolton & Menk for engineering services related to the Tri-County Health Care Infrastructure Project. This comes at a total cost of $517,472. Of that amount, $46,400 of work has already been completed related to survey and wetland services and geotechnical investigation.

Preparing the way for actual construction is expensive work. Here is an estimate of costs for engineering work related to this agreement:

  • Survey and wetland services, $29K,
  • Geotechnical investigation, $17K,
  • Preliminary engineering, $98K,
  • Final engineering, $94K,
  • Land and easement acquisition, public bidding $10K,
  • Construction staking, observation and testing, $268K.

With TCHC President and CEO Joel Beiswenger present, Phil Martin, principal engineer with Bolton and Menk, discussed the next steps in an effort to allow the new hospital to become operational in early 2023. He noted the significant delays brought on by COVID-19 implications. Martin shared that the city has basically until fall 2022 to get pipe installed along Greenwood and along the county highway leading to the new construction. Martin added that the city would be working in conjunction with the county on finishing work on Greenwood as the avenue is now turning into a County State Aid Highway and is set to be paved as part of improvements in accessing the planned hospital development.

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This time next year, the city plans to seek and accept bids for the utility project's construction.

City administrator Janette Bower described the city’s role in this project is to pay for some of the development costs directly benefiting the city along the route as was outlined in a development agreement with the TCHC. Again, she made it clear and Beiswenger confirmed that if the hospital project does not go through, that TCHC would be paying the city back for their costs incurred. As it sits, the city would not be making the developments if not for the need to bring utilities to the new hospital development.

Bower noted some concern about how they might financially carry this expense over one year. Her recommendation was to have one bond covering two fiscal years. The TCHC project is currently out for bids.

Beiswenger updated the council on their financial status noting that they may not have definite approval until April to finance the project. “Banks are generally a little nervous,” Beiswenger said of the current financial situation. “We are pretty confident at this time that we will get it done,” Beiswenger said. He was hopeful to see the work started as soon as possible.

All council members were in favor of the project moving forward.

In other actions, the council approved unanimously the following:

  • Designating the Wadena Pioneer Journal newspaper as the official newspaper of the city of Wadena.
  • The date and time of city council meetings as the second Tuesday of every month, at 5 p.m.
  • Appointing council member Bruce Uselman as the acting mayor during any absence of Mayor George Deiss.
  • Naming official depositories of the city of Wadena as Mid-Central Federal Savings Bank, Wadena State Bank, Central Minnesota Credit Union and Charles Schwab.
  • Designating Pederson and Pederson PA as the City’s 2021 Criminal and Civic Legal Counsel.
  • Reappointing Sandy Black and Sara Ross to the Parks Advisory Board.
  • Appointing Cindy McCollough to the Wadena Development Authority Board. The council also expressed appreciation to outgoing WDA board member Bill Stearns who has served on the board for 20 years, according to Wadena Economic Development Director Dean Uselman.
  • Appointing Josh Meech to the Housing and Redevelopment Board for a five year term. Meech expressed in a letter his interest in the position saying he had a passion to serve the community. Meech fills the spot of outgoing member Toby Pierce. It was suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that Pierce has been a member of the Housing and Redevelopment Board for longer than the board has even existed.
  • Designating the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center as the City of Wadena’s polling place for Precincts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
  • Renewing Kristen Betts’ massage therapy business license.
  • Renewing Wadena Elks BPOE Lodge 2386’s liquor license.
  • The fifth and final payment to J&J Excavating for the Business Park Project in the amount of $92,702.46. The estimated project cost was $1,622,349. The project came in under budget at $1,426,939.31. A portion of the project was funded by a DEED grant in the amount of $688,945.50, with the remainder of the project cost appropriated between the Water, Sewer, and General Fund departments, and the Wadena Development Authority.