Wadena County Board continues conversation on courthouse expansion

Convene training, fiber connectivity and the courthouse expansion come amongst the range of topics discussed in the meeting on Dec. 15.

Commissioner Plaques Hofer, Horsager.JPG
Commissioners Chuck Horsager (left) and Jim Hofer received plaques for their service on the county board. Rebecca Mitchell/Pioneer Journal

In their final meeting, commissioners Chuck Horsager and Jim Hofer were recognized for their years of service on the board. Hofer has been a commissioner since 2013 and Horsager since 2017.

The two completed their time with plenty of discussion points on Dec. 15.

Convene training cost and benefits

Commissioner Jon Kangas shared his concern about employees taking advantage of the training time and the cost for employee’s work hours above the training cost. The Convene training includes webinars and trainings for county employees throughout the year. The budgeted amount is $999 for the year.

Horsager said the trainings are beneficial and watched by employees, including human services and attorneys who have required training hours, as county attorney Kyra Ladd added. The cost to each department could be included more thoroughly in next year’s budget. Commissioners except Kangas approved the trainings; Sheldon Monson was not yet present.

Additional fiber connectivity for county departments

In a first annual payment for leasing fiber connectivity between county buildings, commissioners approved $2,534.40. The funds will come from the IT department after savings on the phone bill.


The fiber is a second line to ensure backup if the first line fails, which is from the courthouse to the highway department. The second line will connect the highway department to Human Services. The goal is to have two different carriers once additional carriers complete their projects of adding lines in the Wadena area. The county is not considering their own line because of the cost and FCC regulations.

Ideas shared on courthouse space

Horsager and county IT director Dave Hotchkiss brought ideas to the board about expanding the courtroom space and moving department offices to have a 2,500 square foot space. The ideas have not been presented to the building committee.

The commissioners also discussed the cost of the previous courtroom remodel in 2016 , which was approximately $800,000. The former Wensman building has also been a remodel option for the county departments not pertaining to courts and legal services that are currently located in the courthouse. Commissioners Monson and Bill Stearns have previously been in favor of this idea and BHH Partners created designs for the Wensman space.

The courtroom project has been a long ongoing conversation with “hurdles” throughout the process, as Ladd noted. Ladd said the ideas now and previously include items in wrong places, do not include spaces for certain offices or don’t improve the space.

“I think discussions are good but I think that if it’s going to be fruitful and we’re going to be good stewards of our resources, I think we need to have collectively the right people having these conversations so that we don’t go down a path that creates other waste,” Ladd said.

In other action

The board also approved:

  • The first publication of the 2020 Wadena County financial statements to the Review Messenger for $5.25 per column inch. The second publication of the 2020 Wadena County financial statements to the Wadena Pioneer Journal for $5.50 per column inch. The Review Messenger as the 2021 Official Wadena County Newspaper for publication of the legal notices and publication of the delinquent tax notice for $5.25 per column inch.

  • County voting equipment including two DS200 Optical Scan Counting machines and a KnowINK poll pad for the county portion of $5,695. The machines are purchased with 50% VEGA grant funds for the machines and 75% grant funds for the poll pad.

  • Revoking the remnant portion of CSAH 4 that will function as an alley to the city of Wadena.

  • A memorandum of understanding between the county and local funeral homes for transporting bodies needing autopsies to the Anoka County Medical Examiner’s Office.

  • The Sheriff’s Department advertising for bids for the sale of a 2016 Ford Taurus (Interceptor) squad car with mounted emergency equipment. The open market sale will be a minimum bid of $6,500. The department will contact area counties based on email contacts. In this case, the open market only includes area law enforcement departments due to the mounted emergency equipment.

  • The 2021 final levy for $9,670,670. The levy is a 3.73% increase from 2020. Kangas voted against the resolution.

  • The 2021 Wadena County budget. The budget is viewable on the county website in the agenda center.

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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