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Letters to the Editor (Verndale Sun)

To the Editor:

So the headline reads, “If you don’t take the lowest bid…why bid? I feel it was necessary to respond to the front page article in the January 11 Verndale Sun regarding awarding of the newspaper bids for Wadena County and explain why I voted the way I did.

Do you think it’s that easy? How would you define the lowest bid? Is it simply by the cost per inch without considering anything else?

Although there were multiple bids for different items, I will use the Wadena County Annual Financial Statement in my example. This is required by Minnesota Statute 375.17 to be published annually to inform the public.

In my example, the Verndale Sun bid $5 per column inch and the Review Messenger bid $5.50 per inch.

Consider an average printing of 250 column inches, this would cost $1,250 in the Sun vs $1,375 in the ReMess. If that is all you consider, the Sun is definitely lower.

My reasons for voting the way I did, were clearly stated at the meeting, included the facts that the Sun has 197 in-county subscribers vs the ReMess with 1,149 in-county subscribers and Wadena County residents are our intended audience.

The purpose of publishing is to inform the public as required by law, and competitive bidding is to get the best value for the taxpayers’ money. In my above example, the cost for each in-county subscription of the Sun is $6.35 per copy but in the ReMess it would be $1.19 per copy with a much greater county-wide coverage.

So, you tell me, which is the best deal for the taxpayers’ money? Which is the lowest cost? Price per inch or price per copy? These are the facts I must weigh before making a decision in my role as commissioner.

For an analogy, let’s say you are planning a reception. One caterer will provide the food for $1,250 and another for $1,375. One is cheaper upfront but then you find out that one will prepare meals for 197 guests and the other 1,149, the cheapest is no longer the best value.

Any business considers delivery numbers and their targeted market area when choosing advertising options. These are the things I also consider in decision making.

To be clear, I don’t have anything against the Verndale Sun, in fact I have been a subscriber for years along with the ReMess. My concern is the best value for the tax dollars to get the mandated information out to the widest audience.

Considering Wadena county’s nearly $30 million budget, maybe informing the public using multiple publications is a worthwhile option.

If you disagree with me, please let me know why.

All Wadena County commissioners’ contact information is on the county website.

Jon Kangas

Wadena County


District 5

Editor’s Note:

This letter is in response to Wadena County Commissioner Mr. Kangas’ letter to the editor in this issue:

According to Minnesota Statute 375.12, the county board is required to have official proceedings of its sessions published in a qualified newspaper of general circulation in the county. The publication must be let annually by contract to the lowest bidder, at the first regular session of the board in January each year. Based on this statute, there is no justification for this erroneous formula being used by Mr. Kangas to defend his voting decision.

All the legal newspapers in Wadena County submitted bids as required by law. Instead of publicly attacking a small county business, it would be more appropriate for you to discuss with those other newspapers why their bids were higher.

It is important to note that this decision-making process is in line with the oath of office taken by the commissioners to follow the law.

Furthermore, it is concerning that Mr. Kangas had previously proposed to dissolve the county at the July 12, 2022 and November 28, 2022 meetings. He also talked about selling the fairgrounds “for the financial trouble the county is in” at the October 11, 2022, and November 28, 2022 meetings as cost-saving measures. Yet now he has voted against a legal bid process that took the lowest bid and one that saves the county money.

So, in short, your auditor/treasurer was correct in saying that if you don’t take the lowest bid...why bid? So what’s the why? Because MN law requires it.

I respectfully disagree with your approach and process in this matter Mr. Kangas.

Ray Benning


Verndale Sun

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