Wadena County approves new phone system



After years of patching breakdowns and dealing with service outages, Wadena County offices will soon have a new telephone system in line with today’s security needs and customer requests.

At the July 12 county board meeting, commissioners approved purchasing the new telephone system. West Central Telephone, Sebeka, was the low bidder at $64,935. The new system includes upgrading existing phone and voicemail systems, installing new phones and digital ports, security improvements, caller ID, and a set-up for a single call to go out to all employees in lockdowns and emergency notifications. 

The county has 179 telephone extensions that will be upgraded. The failing phone systems in the highway, public health, and sheriff’s departments will be replaced as part of the upgrade.

Also at the July 12 meeting, commissioners authorized BHH Partners, Perham, to design and engineer a freestanding covered walkway link between the new annex and the courthouse as part of the annex construction project. The design and engineering is not a commitment to build the corridor, but is an effort to be ready to build it in the future if the cost is too high to manage during the current annex project.

Soil borings were taken during the week of July 11-15, and the board will hear the results soon. Old timers have told commissioners that the original county courthouse debris was buried on the current site before the current courthouse was built in the 1960s. If the soil borings strike this debris or other debris, then further exploration of the site will be ordered.

The annex will not have a basement, but footings and a foundation must be poured below ground. Thus, an investigation of what lies beneath the surface must be done.

Also at the July 12 meeting, a public hearing was held to consider the new Wadena County Water Plan designed and written by employees of the Wadena County Soil and Water Conservation District. Director Darren Newville and Water Plan Coordinator Ben Underhill presented a summary of the new Water Plan, which will be in effect from 2016 to 2026, after final approval.

The Water Plan is a document that all counties must prepare and submit to the state’s Board of Water and Soil Resources (BOWSR) every ten years. It contains the local SWCD’s plans and goals for improving and protecting the quality of surface water, ground water, and habitat in the county. Wadena County’s Water Plan is particularly important because so many of the rivers, streams and lakes in the county are impaired.

After the public hearing, the board voted unanimously to approve the new Water Plan and send it to the state for action.

In other business, the board

o Approved a Resolution accepting a grant from the state to help pay for reconstruction of bridge 80539 on CSAH 26 over the Leaf River. The project will cost $1.2 million.

o Approved a method of funding the new annex construction from current county monies.

o Approved a Low Income Septic Replacement grant for a county resident.

o Approved a plan to rebuild the landing at White Dog county park.

o Considered the newest job description for the Human Resources and IT Director

o Considered a request for a county work environment scan, and asked for more information about the $14,000 project before voting on it.

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