Wadena County ranks #1 in securing benefits for veterans

Construction management decision postponed

ard meeting, Veterans Service Officer Dave Anderson shared that Wadena County ranks first in the amount of federal veterans’ funding brought into the county, that assists the 1,183 veterans living here.

The ranking was determined through calculations made by VSO Dan Tingwell of Carver County, using Department of Veterans Affairs statistics for 2015.

The money that comes into the county for veterans includes compensation and pension benefits, educational and vocational rehabilitation funds and insurance and indemnity funds. Veterans’ Service Officers in each county assist veterans in applying for the funds they are qualified and entitled to, through their military service.

Anderson has served Wadena County as the VSO for more than 10 years. Board members expressed their appreciation of his work for veterans.

Commissioners approved a request from Sheriff Mike Carr to accept 2017 funding of $9,000 from NJPA to help support the cost of the Drug Task Force Agent who serves the county and its cities, with conditions that the county’s provides $10,000 in its 2017 budget. The budget will be discussed at the Aug. 23 and Aug. 30 board meetings. The county budget is generally approved during December for the following year.

Ryan Odden, County Engineer, presented the highway, transit and extension departments 2017 budget and levy summaries to the board during a brief discussion. Odden will be unable to attend the board meeting on Aug. 23 to present the budgets for the three departments he supervises.

Justin Maaninga of Vercon, Inc., presented Vercon’s estimate for Construction Management service costs for the county’s courthouse annex building project. Vercon has requested a fee of 6.5 percen of the project cost, in return for its construction management services. In addition, Vercon estimated that it would bill the county $26,000 for estimating, pre-construction work, construction period and closeout work; plus $45,000 for on-site supervision during the eight month project; and $15,000 for adjustments required due to winter conditions. The total estimate of funds to be paid to Vercon for the project was $150,000.

Commissioner Rodney Bounds objected to this amount as too high. Commissioner Dave Hillukka disagreed with Bounds, pointing out the high volume of construction management work that the project would require and the value the county would receive by Vercon making sure that everything ran smoothly for eight months. It was also pointed out that Vercon had managed the transfer station expansion/ remodeling project and had done an excellent job for the county.

When Board Chair Jim Hofer asked for a motion to approve Vercon’s proposal, none was made. Hofer made the motion himself, but there was no second to the motion, so he withdrew it.

Commissioner Bill Stearns asked his colleagues to wait a week, until Commissioner Sheldon Monson could be present (he was absent on Aug. 16 due to a work conflict) and could review the Vercon proposal. Monson has extensive experience in construction issues through his work as an electrical inspector. Stearns also wanted a representative from BHH Partners, the county’s architect on the annex project, to be present for the discussion on Aug. 23. Hofer asked Odden to contact BHH and ask them to provide an estimate for the construction of the “connecting link” between the annex and the courthouse in time for the Aug. 23 meeting.

  In other business, the board

o Accepted the Emergency Election Plan designed by Rosalie Miller and other county employees with assistance from the cities and townships in Wadena County.

o Approved the Operational Enhancement Grant for the VSO.

o Discussed parking lot issue related to the annex construction

o Heard an update on the progress of selling the two houses that the county bought, to acquire land adjacent to the courthouse to expand the parking lot.

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