Wadena County Commissioners: School districts receive $370,000 in CARES Act

Five school superintendents whose districts have property within Wadena County attended the regular meeting of the Wadena County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning, September 22. Th e board, following discussion about the COVID-19 related needs in these school districts, voted 4-1 (Commissioner Jon Kangas opposed) to distribute, based on each district’s per pupil count, a total of $370,000 among them from the county’s nearly $1.7 million in CARES Act relief funds. Th e fi ve superintendents are (l to r), beginning in the front row, Lee Westrum/Wadena-Deer Creek, Paul Brownlow/ Verndale, Shane Tappe/Staples-Motley and in the back row Dave Fjeldheim/ Sebeka and Kevin Wellen/Menahga. —photo by Matthew Johnson/Sebeka Menahga Review Messenger

by Trinity Gruenberg


The Wadena County Commissioners held their regular meeting on September 22.

Open Meeting Law Violation

County Coordinator/Engineer Ryan Odden explained that on September 16 the building committee met via Zoom. Commissioners Bill Stearns and Sheldon Monson were on the call as committee members. Commissioner Jon Kangas joined the meeting for 10 minutes. County Attorney Kyra Ladd was notified and Odden was directed to either stop the meeting or have Kangas leave. Kangas was asked to hang up as it is an open meeting law (OML) violation to have three commissioners, which is a quorum, without having it posted as a special board meeting.

Kangas wasn’t convinced it was a violation and read the open meeting law statute. Committees are subject to following the open meeting law and are open to the public.

Kangas questioned the webinars that the commissioners take if that is a violation of the OML and how is it monitored. Failure to give notice of public meetings at least three days prior is also a violation.

Kangas noted there was no agenda posted for the committee meeting and questioned if recordings and meeting minutes were available to the public. He questioned if he read the minutes of the meeting or listened to the recording after the meeting would that also be in violation? Ladd nodded yes. Kangas believes there are ongoing violations of the open meeting law by the county.

He received notification of another meeting just hours before it took place. . .

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