Living history: Keep hands off red flags on fire hydrants

20 years ago Excerpts from the Jan. 30, 1997 Pioneer Journal o Lead plagues Wadena family What would you do? That is what Jay Steward is asking. Steward moved his family to Wadena in May of 1995. He was looking for a safer environment for his wif...

20 years ago

Excerpts from the Jan. 30, 1997 Pioneer Journal

• Lead plagues Wadena family

What would you do?

That is what Jay Steward is asking. Steward moved his family to Wadena in May of 1995. He was looking for a safer environment for his wife and children. But along with the good things, he discovered a hidden danger.


Since last February, he's been seeking some concrete answers about the source of contamination that has caused elevated lead readings in his children. He's been troubled why it has taken nearly a year to alleviate the problem - a year during which he has seen those levels rise to nearly 30 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood in one of his children and to more dangerous levels in another. The children are under six years of age and therefore at risk of serious damage to their brains and nervous systems.

Steward's journey has taken him through the Wadena County Health Department, into conversations with building owner Duane Polman and building manager Craig Folkestad and, via telephone conversations and personal contacts, to Minnesota Department of Health Northwest District Office Public Health Sanitarian and indoor air and lead specialist Mark Peloquin. Steward has even sought relief through the offices of state legislators, whom he contacted at a town meeting on a recent Saturday.

He has not been convinced that anyone is taking his plight seriously.

But he has kept a journal of events chronicling his quest to have his apartment on First Street SE freed of lead paint contaminants.

After both daughters tested with high levels of lead, Polman suggested the family move to another location.

That location was unacceptable to the Steward family and they stayed put.

Lead levels began to fall and were at around 20 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood by September last year.

State law requires containment or removal of sources of lead contamination by a certified expert or, if the owner chooses to complete the task, spells out specific rules to follow.


Steward said the conditions were not met in a timely matter.

Building manager Folkestad refutes that claim. He cited delays with work orders and problems locating qualified abatement contractors as reasons for work delays.

Polman said the majority of the work was completed Wednesday. Delays were the result of the bureaucratic process, he said.

50 years ago

Excerpts from the Feb. 2, 1967 Pioneer Journal

• Keep hands off red flags on fire hydrants

Members of the local street department have reported the mutilating and destruction of many of the red fire hydrant flags in Wadena.

Notice is given to persons who are apprehended causing damage to or removing these flags that they will be prosecuted.


These red flags are most useful to local volunteer fire department members in cases of fire emergencies. In the presence of high snow drifts the red flags clearly mark the hydrants along Wadena streets.

• World Day of Prayer planned for Feb. 10

World Day of Prayer services are planned for Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. at the Messiah Lutheran Church in Wadena.

The first Friday in Lent has been, for many years, traditional as an interdenominational prayer day. The service used around the world by church women has been written by her Majesty Queen Salote Tupou of Tonga, who culminated years of leadership by writing the 1967 worldwide service only months before her death.

Mrs. Roland Borene of Clearbrook will be guest speaker.

Women of all churches in the area are invited to the World Day of Prayer service and may attend the social hour which follows.

80 years ago

Excerpts from the Feb. 3, 1937 Pioneer Journal


• Red Owl store has new manager

Richard Martin is the new manager of the Red owl store in Wadena. The previous manager, Edward Hintikka, who started the company in the local store, left for New York Mills to operate his own store which he recently purchased from Oscar Thorson.

Martin received his early store training in the Wadena store with Hintikka and has for several months been managing the Red Owl store in Canton, S.D.

Mr. and Mrs. Hintikka, who leave the Wadena community, have made many friends here who will wish them success in their new venture. The Hintikka store will have the Red Owl Agency rights in New York Mills.

• President's Ball termed a success

The annual President's birthday ball drew a fine crowd at Memorial Auditorium Friday night and he receipts were gratifying for the committees of the Junior Civic and Commerce Association who had worked diligently to promote the event. Receipts, not yet completely in, indicate there will be a fair-sized sum for the infantile paralysis fund, half of which will go to the national foundation for the study and prevention of poliomyelitis or paralysis, and the balance remain in the local fund. The Howard orchestra of Minneapolis was engaged to furnish the music.

The neighboring towns of Nimrod, Verndale, Sebeka and Menahga assisted in the promotion of the ticket sales and cooperated effectively with the Wadena group in making the annual dance and the March of Dimes campaign a big success.

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