Solid waste plant improvements approved

The Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority improvement projects will total about $2 million.

Perham Refuse Burner.jpg
The Perham Resource Recovery Facility is operated by Wadena, Otter Tail, Becker, Clay and Todd counties that own the Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority. Perham Focus file photo

The Wadena County Board of Commissioners approved work on improvements at the Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority through bonding with Otter Tail County for about $2 million on Oct. 13. The cost would be paid for through tipping fees.

The county hauls waste to the plant in Perham as a member county; Wadena County has a 10% ownership , Otter Tail County 39%, Becker County 22%, Clay County 15% and Todd County 14%. The county's share of the cost is equal to their ownership share.

The projects will consist of two major refractory overhauls on the north and south units, which are the concrete linings of the boiler chambers that have not been replaced since the 1980s when the facility was built, according to Solid Waste director Chris McConn. Commissioner Bill Stearns and McConn also noted payloader, induction fan and refractory grates projects. The projects would be completed over the next two years rather than the next five to benefit from the low interest rates. The average interest rate for the bond payments over the next 10 years will be 1.6%, according to McConn.

Commissioner Jon Kangas was concerned about the costs to maintain the facility and Wadena County’s obligation to continue their ownership when hauling waste to other facilities could be cheaper. The planned allotment of funds for the improvements could be decreased to the bond payment amount each year along with tipping fees going toward the expense.

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The board also discussed a bridge in Leaf River township in need of repairs to support the bridge with the township asking for a loan. The total project cost would be $100,000-150,000, which would be funded by the town bridge account that requires the township to pay $20,000, according to county engineer Ryan Odden. The county previously loaned funds to Meadow township in 2012 that was repaid within four years instead of five. After Commissioner Sheldon Monson and county attorney Kyra Ladd noted possible legal issues, the commissioners will rediscuss the loan after learning more about issues. All are in favor of the loan.

In his report, Commissioner Chuck Horsager asked those on the ordinance committee to again review the large assembly ordinance, which was discussed in relation to the Nimrod Bull Bash this summer. Ladd said the committee had spent more than enough time on this ordinance and that the decision to repeal, adopt or change the ordinance is up to the board not the committee. Horsager hopes to see a discussion about the ordinance on the board’s agenda in the next month.

He also encouraged the committee to consider ordinances on the Tobacco 21 law and topics related to marijuana such as use, manufacturing, growing and sales.

RELATED: Large assembly ordinance puts Bull Bash at center stage

In other actions, the board approved:

  • Wadena County Public Health Director Cindy Pederson to advertise and hire a Public Health Nurse at pay grade 54 for an 80-100% full time position.

  • To decline the county purchasing any of the land parcels for sale by the Department of Natural Resources.

  • Adopting and implementing the Redeye River One Watershed, One Plan with Otter Tail, Wadena, Becker and Todd counties and soil and water conservation districts. There are no new funding requirements with the plan, according to Wadena County Planning and Zoning department director Deana Malone. This plan is in place of the comprehensive plan though both are similar; the intent of the plan is to continue cooperation, as Wadena SWCD Assistant Manager and Forestry and Water Resources Technician Anne Oldakowski said.

  • Erwin Barney repurchasing his tax forfeited property at 302 and 304 SE Butler St., Verndale for approximately $5,255.07. There could be additional penalties, interest and fees, according to Wadena County auditor/treasurer Heather Olson.

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in feature reporting as well as enhancing online articles. Readers can reach Rebecca at 507-285-7681 or
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