Wadena County Historical Society requests funds
At the May 17 board meeting, Wadena commissioners heard a presentation from Lina Belar, Interim Director of the Wadena County Historical Society (WCHS). Belar appeared on behalf of the WCHS to ask the board to double its annual contribution to the WCHS budget.
The WCHS has been preserving county records including obituaries, family histories, business histories, property and land records, photographs, newspaper archives and other records for 78 years. The society holds 115,000 artifacts at its Wadena headquarters.
The WCHS hosts traveling exhibits from the Minnesota Historical Society and other historical societies, hosts a series of free programs by local authors and researchers, publicizes archaeological research in the county and assists those who are searching for their family history.
The county board appropriated $8,000 for the WCHS from the 2016 county budget. The WCHS would like the county to double its contribution to $16,000 in the 2017 budget. The WCHS is totally funded by membership fees, donations, grants, private support, and has found it difficult to continue providing services unless it can acquire additional resources.
Minnesota Statutes 138.052 provides for a special tax levy for county historical societies to fund their activities, but the WCHS has never used this provision. Instead, the WCHS has requested an annual appropriation from the county board.
Belar told the board that about 13 percent of its budget goes to maintain its building, 20 percent for programming, and 50 percent for staff salaries. The rest (about 17 percent) goes to other expenses including research, maintenance, advertising, etc.
The board also heard a request from Lee Brekke, County Assessor, the need to hire two temporary staff to help reduce the backlog of property assessments that has grown during the past two years.
Brekke said his staff has been out on medical leave and other forms of leave, making it impossible for him to keep up with the schedule of parcel reviews that the state law requires. Right now, he is behind on 5,300 parcel assessments that need five year reviews.
After discussion, the board voted to approve the purchase of assessment services from two contractors, through the Employment Resource Center, Inc., for about 65 days of work to be done this summer.
In other business, the board;
o Discussed courthouse space allocation again, focusing on the needs of the Auditor-Treasurer and the new Human Resources Department.
o Held a closed meeting to discuss offers for the purchase or sale of real property.
o Discussed the notice from the City of Wadena about a sewer line that connects to the county maintenance shop. More research is needed before a decision can be made about replacing the pipe.
o Learned that Commissioner Rodney Bounds has decided not to seek re-election to the commissioner position for the term that expires on Dec. 31, 2016.
o Appointed Curt Kreklau to take over as lead management negotiator with the county’s bargaining units while County Engineer Ryan Odden is on medical leave.