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Locals share county priorities with legislators

Rep. John Poston, Wadena County Commissioners Sheldon Monson and Bill Stearns and Senator Paul Gazelka (R) gathered last week to discuss Wadena County priorities for 2019. Submitted photo

Wadena County commissioners Sheldon Monson and Bill Stearns recently met with Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa and Rep. John Poston R-Lake Shore in an effort to share priorities for Wadena County in 2019.

Monson spoke about a half-hour meeting at a recent special meeting in Wadena.

• Monson said there was a strong showing for representatives in favor of a bill allowing statewide appointment of auditor/treasurer positions in the counties. That would help Wadena County to move forward from an elected position to an appointed position, a topic the board has been discussing for years.

• Poston reportedly said he may be asked to testify on behalf of Wadena County due to the county having a low tax base and a high tax rate in comparison to other counties in the state. There may be some work that needs to be done to increase the county program aid funding.

• It sounds like there may be a bonding bill in the hopper to "hopefully get Hwy 10 done," Monson said. The Hwy 10 reconstruction talk has been ongoing for, some would say, 45 years. Commissioners last year tried to seek funding approval to make the entire stretch of Hwy 10 four-lane through Wadena. The current MnDOT plan creates four lanes through Wadena, but returns to two-lane for a short distance again before going back to four-lane well outside of Wadena.

• Commissioners also spoke about South Country Health Alliance and how the Department of Health holds back payments during April-June, making it difficult for the health program to make it through without a cash call.