1. Small Business Revolution

The Small Business Revolution named Waseca a top 10 finalist for season five along with a chance at $500,000.

SBR showcases one town each season to help rejuvenate the town using the $500,000 for business education, community investments and to invest in specific businesses in the winning town.

Recently, since announcing the top 10 finalists, two producers from SBR visited Waseca to determine if the town will move forward to the top 5.

“It’s so exciting. It’s super-humbling because I know that Waseca has unlimited potential and for someone else outside of Waseca to see that just is amazing,” Waseca Area Camber of Commerce Executive Director Ann Fitch said. “It helps validate everything that the people in the community work so hard to accomplish.”

On Jan. 14 at 9 a.m. in the Waseca High School Performing Arts Center there will be a live announcement of the top 5 town finalists for who is still in the running to be on season 5. Waseca is the only city in Minnesota in the top 10.

If Waseca is named in the Top 5 online voting will start immediately following the announcement and last for a week.

The winner will be announced in late January.

“We have already had different entities in the State reach out to us and ask what can they do to help, which is really nice and if we do get to the top five we will need the help from our entire state,” Fitch said. “We’ll need the help from the Iron Range to the River Valley, completely.”

Small Business Revolution was started by Deluxe, a small business financial services company, located in Shoreview, Minnesota. Amanda Brinkman of Deluxe was at the forefront of the creation of the show, who has a goal to help entrepreneurs, small businesses and financial institutions with customer relations.

The show is streamed on Hulu, Amazon Prime and the Deluxe website.

2. 2019 Special Election

A special election was held in November 2019 for an open seat on the Waseca County Board of Commissioners and two seats open on the Waseca School Board.

District 5 Commissioner Dan Kuhns announced his resignation at a March 2019 Waseca County Board meeting, which was a surprise to the other commissioners.

Kuhns accepted a position as Waseca County Deputy Auditor-Treasurer, Payroll Support.

Kuhns, who has served as District 5 commissioner since 2007, said it was a family and financial decision. He was re-elected to a new four-year term on the Waseca County Board in November 2018, capturing 512 votes to challenger Audra Veroven who had 387.

“I certainly enjoyed my 12 years as District 5 commissioner,” Kuhns said. “I was honored to serve. But some changes in my personal life made this a good time to make a move.”

A special election was then held on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 after a primary election in August to narrow the candidates down to two.

Local Brad Krause was elected to fill the open District 5 seat beating out Kevin Nelson.

Krause received 174 votes, 68 percent of votes, to Nelsons 80 votes, 30 percent of votes, securing his new position.

He will fill out the remainder of the term for Ward 5 through 2022. The fifth district of Waseca County includes St. Mary Townships and a small part of Waseca.

“Well I’m just looking to serve the people in our district to represent them well,” Krause said. “I feel I have the capability of doing that and have the experience, because I’ve worked in the farming community, I’ve worked through the farm service industry and I’ve worked with the county on different things and I’ve worked with the township out here as far as road maintenance for 20 plus years … I have the trucking business, as well, so I know how to deal with people. I just feel there is a need to better represent the people in District 5 than what has been in the past.”

The special election was also held to fill two vacant school board seats.

Waseca School Board had two vacancies to fill through the special election after Randy Zimmerman and Koni Hudak resigned at two separate meetings in early January 2019.

Zimmerman surprised the school board by resigning at the first meeting in 2019, after serving on the board for the last 10 years, eight of them as the chairman.

He was first elected to the board in a close seven-person contest in 2008, then was the top board vote-getter both in 2012 and 2016. Zimmerman had two more years to serve in that most recent four-year term.

At the second meeting of 2019 Hudak resigned as well from the school board through a formal letter to the other members, leaving two vacancies to be filled.

“It boiled down to family and the board and just feeling very split between the two,” Hudak said. “It’s such an important position that I wouldn’t expect anyone to be there that couldn’t give the time and devotion to the time and commitment that it requires.”

The board selected Aaron Skogen and Edita Mansfield to fill the two vacant positions as interim board members.

Skogen and Mansfield ran again for their interim seats along with Chris Mitchell in 2019 for one of the open seats. Zimmerman made a surprise decision by running as a write-in during the special election to take back the seat he gave up.

Mitchel ran on the school board ballot in November 2018 along with applying for an interim seat that was filled by Skogen and Mansfield in April of 2019.

Skogen was top vote-getter for the special election for school board seats with 392 votes with Mansfield receiving 380 to secure both vacant seats.

The new elects from the special election will be seated on the school board in January 2020 with their term running for one year. The seats filled during the special election will be on the ballot of the November 2020 election.

3. HPC historic downtown Waseca

Over the last two years the HPC has worked endlessly to get Waseca’s Downtown on the National Register of Historic Places and it is almost there.

In May 2019 the HPC submitted the application for Waseca to become a historic downtown on the National Register of Historic Places after nearly a decade in the making.

The application has been submitted to the State Historical Preservation Office for review. City Councilor and HPC member Les Tlougan said that it’s in the state’s hands now. The team that has worked diligently — researching, collecting and conducting interviews — to develop the application, now waits with bated breath.

There are criteria the National Registry looks at when considering a property. This involves examining the property’s age, significance and integrity.

Once the application is approved through all of the proper channels, the downtown area of Waseca would be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cultural heritage tourism is what the city would get, if listed, according to Mooney, and it’s an industry that’s recognized.

At an August 2019 meeting held by the HPC the committee explained the Minnesota Rehabilitation Tax Credit related to Historic Downtowns.

The community had the chance to discuss and learn about Downtown Historic Districts. People also learned about the HPC, tourism benefits, tax credits and more.

When a person has their property on the National Register, it means the property has been documented and evaluated according to federal standards and listed in the National Register because it is significant in American History, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture.

The HPC focused on the tax credit that is available to those business owners who would be in the Historic Downtown area and how being on the registry is helpful to businesses.

The Minnesota Historic Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit is administered by the National Park Service in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service. The tax credit program is set to expire after the 2021 fiscal year.

In order for a project or building to qualify for the tax credit it must be a certified historic structure along with numerous other requirements.

4. New Waseca County Veterans Memorial

The new Waseca County veterans memorial is located in the northeast corner of the Waseca Courthouse campus as of September 2019.

This is a Veteran Memorial Committee project that the county has donated land to complete.

The memorial project was fully funded with the help of many organizations.

The Waseca Area Foundation gave a grant of $30,000 and the city of Waseca voted to contribute $25,000 to the project. The county was also able to help achieve a grant from the state to meet historical preservation requirements for $49,000. ISG engineering firm, of Mankato, worked with the committee for the estimates. Talk of the new veterans memorial go back to 2005.

The new memorial has six granite tablets that are over 8 feet wide and deep and over 6 feet tall. Each tablet is designed to hold up to 256 plaques honoring an individual veteran, for a total of 1,536 available spots.

This memorial will include the names of all known Waseca County veterans from all wars. Family members of veterans are able to purchase plaques from the county website or through the Veterans Services office.

At the time of the unveiling there were pre-purchased plaques placed on the granite tablets with more to be added in the future. The day of the unveiling brought out hundreds.

On Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019 a dedication program was held at the new site.

For the program of the dedication Jill Stagman gave a memorial update along with Colonel USAR, Retired Paul Zimmerman spoke. There was also a presentation of the colors, an invocation, the National Anthem and the veterans version of Hallelujah was performed, a benediction, rifle salute, taps and the retrieval of the colors.

The process of building the new veterans memorial began in August 2018 with a groundbreaking that attracted, at the time United States Sen. Amy Klobuchar and local officials.

There is another memorial on the southeast corner of the courthouse lawn, which only includes veterans’ names through World War I. Being that the original memorial is specific to one time period, the committee wanted to expand how the community honors all veterans, prompting the new memorial.

5.JWP School district administration changes

Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton saw numerous changes in 2019 with the leave of both the Superintendent and the high school principal.

In February 2019 JWP, at the time Superintendent Bill Adams accepted a similar position with New London-Spicer Public Schools.

With the news of his leave at the end of the 2019 school year the JWP School Board hired a firm to find the new Superintendent of JWP Public Schools.

“Although I am excited to start a new adventure at the New London-Spicer Public School District, I am also sad to be leaving JWP,” Adams said in an email. “It goes without saying, I love JWP. I was fortunate to receive my K-12 learning experience at JWP, begin my teaching career at JWP and lead the school district as the superintendent. The school district will always hold a special place in my heart and it is hard to leave.”

After interviewing four candidates the board named Kurt Stumpf as the new JWP superintendent starting in summer 2019.

Prior to being at JWP he was the Sartell middle school principal; before that, he was assistant middle school principal there. Outside of the Sartell district, he had been a middle school dean of students in Little Falls and a middle school math teacher in Pierz. Stumpf received his undergraduate degree in mathematics education from St. Cloud State University. He also received his master’s degree and education specialist degree in school leadership from SCSU.

Stumpf was also approved to serve as the community education director, effective July 1, 2019.

Along with Stumpf as the new superintendent JWP high school also got a new principal for the beginning of the 2019/2020 school year.

Grant Hanson, coming from Mankato, is the new JWP high school principal.

Originally from South Dakota, Hanson graduated with his undergraduate degree in art education from South Dakota State University and his master’s in education leadership and a specialist degree in education leadership with K-12 administration licensure from Minnesota State University, Mankato in Spring of 2019. Since graduating Hanson feels ready to serve in his first administrative position.

Hanson was hired in mid-July after previous high school principal Andy Krause accepted a new assistant principal position in Mankato.

“Grant demonstrated a strong commitment to student success and a collaborative leadership style during the hiring process,” JWP School District Superintendent Kurt Stumpf said. “Grant brings a wealth of instructional leadership experiences through his work as a classroom teacher and continuous improvement coach. I am excited for our students, staff and community to work with such an outstanding leader.”

6. Drug Court milestones

The Steele/Waseca Drug Court program has been providing services for the past five years with 51 successful graduates.

Among the 51 graduates, Program Coordinator Nicole Grams said that they have seen individuals working in treatment programs, enrolling in college to become licensed drug and alcohol abuse counselors, and becoming local peer recovery specialists. Some graduates have been able to advance rapidly in their new-found careers, while another graduate is set to start their own small business.

“It’s really rewarding to see all of that,” Grams added. “It’s easy to get entrenched in the day-to-day work, but at the end of the day it’s nice to be able to reflect back and see the impact it’s had on the community.”

The Steele/Waseca Drug Court was implemented to respond to high-risk and high-need substance abusers that continued a cycle in and out of the local justice systems and jail. The program is five phases with a minimum of 18 months.

DWI track came in 2017 with first graduates in Dec. 2018.

The addition came courtesy of a $100,000 Minnesota Department of Public Safety-Community Reinvestment grant. According to Grams, the DWI Track allows those charged with felony DWI or a gross misdemeanor DWI that has been identified as high risk to be referred to the alternative court program.

Grams added that the addition of the DWI Track is a large benefit to both DWI and drug offenders. By moving DWI offenders out of Drug Court, the open slots are now available for more drug offenders in need of the program. This brought the original capacity limit of Drug Court from 40 to 60 slots.

Though Steele County saw their first two DWI track graduates at the end of 2018 the Waseca Drug Court had their first DWI track graduate in April 2019.

Cedric Dow is the first Waseca DWI track graduate. He joined the program March 21, 2017 and completed it after about 25 months.

“Honestly it was just people in meetings...my old (parole officer) used to talk to us about setting our own goals, so that was big, so I gotta say it was the team and people in group meetings,” Dow said of what motivated him during the program.

People charged with a gross misdemeanor DWI or a felony DWI are eligible for the DWI program track. The key difference between drug and DWI offenders, per research, is that DWI offenders typically have a higher level of education, employability and stable housing. However, they require more compliance checks as they pose an immediate risk to public safety if they drink and then drive. The DWI track calls for less traditional case management and more compliance related checks to assure public safety.

Another addition to the Steele/Waseca Drug Court is Veterans Treatment Court.

Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea on the lawn outside the Steele County Courthouse as a crowd of people joined her to honor the nations POWs and MIAs as well as look forward to helping today’s veterans.

Gildea joined Third District Court Judge Ross L. Leuning and a group of dedicated individuals who have worked for the last four years to launch the second Veterans Treatment Court in Minnesota for a special ribbon cutting ceremony.

The Veterans Treatment Court is designed to provide support and resources for veterans involved with the criminal justice system, rather than punishment. These courts are modeled after mental health and drug courts, which were established to emphasize treatment rather than incarceration.

The program includes frequent court visits, participation in treatment programs, and regular testing for substance abuse where applicable. There will also be a representative from the VA at every session in an effort to get each participant connected to the benefits and resources they are entitled to.

While the Veterans Treatment Court of Minnesota’s Third Judicial District has been operating as a pilot program since March, the September 20, 2019 ceremony marked its introduction to the public as well as showing the high-level support the 11-county-wide program continues to receive.

“We have the head of the executive branch and the head of the judicial branch coming both coming together in support of this program,” Leuning said in reference to Gildea and Gov. Tim Walz, who spoke at a second ribbon-cutting ceremony in Fillmore County later Sept. 20. “It’s hard to believe that we have such high level and unified support.”

According to Justice For Vets, a division of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, combat experience has left a growing number of veterans with issues such as PTSD and traumatic brain injury, resulting in one in five veterans with symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment. The nonprofit also states that one in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operations Iraqi Freedom suffers from a substance use issue. Research continues to draw a link between substance use and combat-related mental illness, which, left untreated, can directly lead to involvement in the criminal justice system.

The Steele/Waseca Drug Court program saw more growth in the team members as well as the new programs offered in 2019.

Members of the Steele/Waseca Drug Court attended a national training in Washington, D.C., with more than 6,000 participants in August 2019.

This training was for the local drug court system to learn more on what other programs across the country are doing and how to implement best practices.

This training was four days filled with numerous training sessions with specific breakout sessions for each role that is associated with the drug court team.

This is the fourth year that the local drug court has been able to attend this national conference because of the Bureau of Justice Assistance that allowed the Steele/Waseca program to be a part of the Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program.

This program provides financial and technical assistance to states, state courts, local courts, units of local government and federally recognized Indian tribal governments to develop and implement adult drug courts and veterans treatment courts. These courts effectively integrate evidence-based substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives, and transitional services in judicially supervised court settings that have jurisdiction over offenders to reduce recidivism and substance abuse and prevent overdoses.

Steele/Waseca Drug Court also saw support from the Waseca Area Foundation when the program was awarded $2,500 for programming support from the EF Johnson Foundation.

7. New Businesses add growth to the area

Waseca County has seen a lot of business growth in 2019 with the addition of numerous new businesses.

At the end of 2018 the Waseca Planning Commission approved a final plat for a second Kwik Trip convenience store plan for the corner of North State Street and 15th Avenue NE, just south of McDonald’s and north of Oscar’s restaurant.

The groundbreaking of the new location took place in April 2019 with the completion and ribbon cutting ceremony in September 2019, a little under a year after the initial plan was agreed on with the city.

The first Kwik Trip location is still open in Waseca off of Highway 13 in the central part of town.

Around the same time the second location of Kwik Trip opened Lush Cakes opened a store front in the former Dairy Queen building on the south end of town.

Owner Jessica Freitag decided to start her own cake business after the Cottage Law passed in Minnesota in 2015, allowing her to make baked foods without a license, but to register with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

“I started Lush Cakes because I love to do wedding cakes,” Freitag said. “So it started as I just wanted to do wedding cakes and the more I did the more cupcakes and the more I got asked to do more things cheesecakes, mini-desserts and that will be the focus here.”

The storefront is open Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Another business in Waseca that is expanding is the Midwest Hemp Farm that opened in 2018.

An addition to the Midwest Hemp Farm is an extraction center that opened in part of the former Quad Graphics building.

Mike Drummer, part owner of the Midwest Hemp Farm, also joined Jeremy Brown of Elysian in purchasing the former Quad/Graphics building.

The extraction plant had 68 employees with room for growth as of October 2019. In this year alone the crop has grown from 20 acres to 650 acres, meaning there will be more work to be done. The Quad building had 1,400 employees in the building at its peak and there is hope through the businesses in the space to bring back at least a fraction of that capacity.

The hemp grown by the Midwest Hemp Farm is taken to the extraction center where it becomes an oil that is then sent to the CBD Centers in Waseca.

The CBD Centers in Waseca opened in November 2019 located off of 2nd Avenue SE. The business offers a variety of CBD products for people and pets.

All of the CBD sold at the store is locally grown and produced through the Midwest Hemp Farm. The Midwest Hemp Farm grows the hemp that is then sent to the extraction center in the former Quad Graphics building in Waseca where the oil is separated.

This “seed-to-shelf” process is what the CBD Centers is proud of and goes along with the mission statement.

The mission is to create safe and trusting retail centers and independent distributors and affiliates, providing opportunities to help others stay healthy and to educate and develop products for the world to benefit from CBD.

The CBD Centers in Waseca is the sixth location that is privately owned by Mike Jevning. Other centers are located in Mankato, Rochester, New Ulm, Woodbury and Alexandria, Minnesota.

When Jevning was looking to open the current store, he worked with the Mankato location along with having community support. Though the stores are separately owned, they all have the same look with the floors and paint along with identical uniforms.

“The Midwest Hemp Farms helped us so much,” store manager Keith Maxon said. “We were able to smoothly get going and the construction process, that was really smooth and really had no hiccups there, it was really good.”

Another business In the former Quad Graphics building Green Forest Recycling in part of the building space.

The company is occupying over 61,000 square feet in the building.

The company started in Waseca on Sept. 27, 2019 with the intention of starting with six to eight employees with the potential to grow to 20 to 25 employees in the first year.

“GreenForest Recycling is a good addition to Waseca’s industrial base,” said Waseca Economic Development Coordinator Gary Sandholm. “They are filling a need in Southern Minnesota initially with paper recycling with solid expansion plans for the near future. Economic development staff in Brainerd where they are headquartered speak very highly of the company. We welcome them to Waseca.”

GreenForest Recycling Resources recycles newspapers, cardboard, printer waste, scrap paper and plastic film in the facility in Waseca with the first location in Brainerd, Minnesota.

In September it was operating with two baling systems, one is for film plastic and the other is for paper products. These balers will be fully operational once Xcel Energy gets power hooked up in the section of the building that the recycling is in, which is planned to be next week.

A fiber sorter will be installed closer to 2020 in the space. This sorting system will use a series of optical scanners and a screening system to clean up the paper stream and make it more usable for end users. The clean use material goes to insulators, companies that make egg cartons and companies that make ceiling tiles.

Another system will be able to sort plastic films that can be converted into decking and lawn furniture.

Currently the company is shipping material to North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and throughout Minnesota. The company intends to keep business in Minnesota as much as possible.

Janesville has also seen new businesses in 2019.

Two Janesville natives, Amanda Slaughter and Kendra Hoehn, have joined together to open Brew’d Awakenings Bistro, a coffee, pastry and lunch bistro in September 2019.

“This whole town’s been supportive,” Slaughter said. “Very very supportive, we have some regulars already…”

Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. the walk-up window will be open only and from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. both the window and the inside will be open. Saturday the walk-up window opens at 7 a.m. and from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. both the window and the inside are open for business and closed on Sundays. There are plans to eventually have online ordering available.

“We just wanted to start small, do it well and then expand,” Hoehn said.

The bistro shares a space and entrance with the local meat market Wiste’s.

Ready Set Build is another business on main street Janesville that was started by a mother-son-duo of Kelly Hrdlicka and her son Blake Ready — a business that started out with Lego events and Community Education Classes with Legos.

Since the end of the Community Education class the mother-son duo have been busy expanding the business. Ready Set Build moved into a building in August 2019 on Main Street in Janesville that is open to the public, allowing the business to expand to more than just Legos.

Ready Set Build is a work space center all about building.

This can be with Legos but the work space center will also have mega blocks, Lincoln logs, Duplo blocks and other building blocks to appeal to most ages.

In the building space there is a spot for toddlers to create and a space for the older kids to create along with a birthday party area. In the space for the older kids is a custom table that seats 38 at their own station that will allow the kids to create using Legos.

The business will be open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The business is closed on Mondays for cleaning. Kids under the age of 8 will need to be accompanied by an adult.

Wiste’s Meat Market in Janesville was able to expand to a second location in Waterville in December 2019.

This location opens a year after the original location was able to reopen. In Dec. 2017 a fire destroyed the Dog House Bar and Grill completely leaving Wiste’s with water and smoke damage in the store that forced it to temporarily shut down.

In the fall of 2019 Dollar General opened its doors to Janesville adding a larger grocery option in town with other amenities available.

The store is located off of old Highway 14 at 150 N Owen st. open Monday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

There are still storefront spaces available in both Janesville and Waseca for businesses to grow or start out in.

8. Waseca County changes

2019 was a busy year for the Waseca County Board of Commissioners with solar gardens, finding a new County Administrator, renovating a new county space and moving a facility to its original location.

The Waseca County Board of Commissioners had numerous meetings involving solar gardens in the county.

More than five solar gardens were approved in 2019 with more to come. Though most citizens who spoke out at meetings support solar gardens there were several people who oppose the new solar gardens to due the proximity to the road or their homes.

The Waseca County Board of Commissioners approved an 180-day moratorium in May 2019 on all new solar garden applications, so commissioners and staff could take time to consider the effects of the gardens on local residents and what regulations need to be in place.

The moratorium means any new application for a solar garden to be developed within county limits will be on hold until the moratorium ends.

County Planning and Zoning Administrator Mark Leiferman said the most common complaint from residents living near the gardens is simply visuals.

“They just don’t want to look at them; that’s the primary thing,” Leiferman said. “It is what it is; they appear how they appear; that’s why the county (board) is putting in some kind of regulation.”

In early September 2019 the solar moratorium ended with the county board setting regulations with amendments to the solar farm ordinance.

The amendment added by the county board in a voted three to one,DeAnne Malterer being the nay, is solar panels have to be 500 feet from a residence in any zone.

The ordinance originally stated; “Solar farms are the primary land use for the parcel on which the array is located and are distinguished from solar arrays that are an accessory use. Solar farms are composed of multiple solar panels on multiple mounting systems (poles or racks), and generally have a direct current rated capacity greater than 100 kilowatts. Solar farms are permitted by conditional use permit and/or by zoning permit. All solar panels in the array will be considered a principal use and shall be required to meet the setbacks of a principal structure.”

“The primary reason things are coming in faster is we have a lot of Xcel (Energy) territory,” Leiferman said. “Xcel is the only (utility company) that has been required to work with solar gardens. If you don’t have any Xcel territory, no one wants to locate there.”

The county also saw a change when Jessica Beyer, County Administrator, accepted a new position as the Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer.

Beyer took over her new position Nov., 2019, after serving Waseca County the last 2½ years, and serving in county government since 2006.

“I am excited. It’s just bittersweet,” Beyer said of accepting the new position. “I’m just trying to leave the county in the best possible place and make sure I’m getting things like the budget wrapped up as much as possible. It’ll definitely be different. It still feels like a dream.”

Through the years Beyer has been with Waseca County she has seen numerous projects accomplished and has recently helped with several. She was a member of the new Veterans Memorial Committee along with working on the 2020 budget and assisting with the new Waseca County Public Health and Human Services building.

Since Beyers absence the county commissioners have been working to find her replacement.

They have narrowed the final candidates down to five and even further down after interviews in mid December.

The final five were Mike Anderson, the assistant to the city manager for the city of Waseca, Thomas Jensen, currently the county administrator for Freeborn County, Michael Johnson, employed by Dakota County, where he serves as the deputy director of property taxation and records, Candace Pesch works for Freeborn County, where she currently serves as the director of personnel and human resources and Albert Roder, who currently serves as the city manager for the city of Independence, Iowa.

A large project the county took on towards the end of 2019 is the purchase of the former mutual building and the renovation of it.

The county is renovating the building to house Waseca County Public Health and Human Services.

The renovations are estimated to cost $3.6 million guaranteed maximum price. There is a 5% construction contingency fund for unforeseen things that occur included in the cost.

Some of renovations include electrical, mechanical and roofing, drywall, tile, carpet, lights and many other renovations to the space.

Adolphson and Peterson Construction will be doing the redesign for the county.

The bidder came up with a guaranteed maximum price with a start in September and a completion date of Jan. 4, 2020 for moving things in and a complete finish date of Jan. 28, 2020.

The County was able to move the Waseca County Waste Facility and Recycling Center back to its original location off of Hwy. 13 just south of Waseca in May 2019.

At the end December 2018 the Waseca County Waste Facility and Recycling Center was destroyed by a fire forcing the facility to be closed for some time before temporarily being housed at the county fairgrounds.

It was chaos, not just that day but for the next weeks and even months, for Solid Waste Director Georgette Hanson and her team.

By using the Fairgrounds as a temporary site and putting together some makeshift hours and procedures, the department made it through the rough stuff and is now back home.

Generally, the Solid Waste/Recycling Department is a strong one, financially speaking, for the county. It consistently pays for itself and sometimes even makes money for the county.

Before the fire, the facility offered recycling, including plastics, office paper, newspaper, clothes, cardboard, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, tires, brush and numerous other items. The site also served as a waste dump, including for demolition materials, garbage, electronics and appliances. Hazardous waste, meanwhile, was accepted in a separate building on the site.

“We will now offer everything here except the hazardous waste service. We’re doing recycling in the hazardous waste building,” Hanson said. “We cannot bail or compact anything yet. We’re just separating it and putting it in respective containers. It’s a revenue loss, because we can’t get the tonnage and grind it up like we would normally.”

The department makes most of its revenue, Hanson said, through its methods of operation.

“The revenues come from my commodities — tipping fees, service fees. We also license all of the waste haulers in the county,” she said.

Before being able to move back out to the site, there was a clean up process.

Commissioners accepted the lowest bid for the debris clean-up from Carleton Companies, Inc. at $19,000.

Carleton Companies, of Good Thunder, specialize in a variety of areas like demolition, recycling and excavation.

The main building on the site of the Solid Waste and Recycling Center was ruled salvageable while the south end was deemed demolition worthy.

9. Construction

Waseca made numerous road improvements in 2019, both in town and out of town.

In August 2019 Hwy. 13 got a seal coat as some simple maintenance.

The seal coat is a preventative maintenance measure that provides a protective layer reducing deterioration due to sun and moisture.

A larger and longer street project Waseca saw started in April 2019 was the Elm Avenue construction project that was done under traffic.

Third Street NE between Fourth Avenue and 11th Avenue NE was closed all summer due to construction, which also hit a few setbacks due to weather and other things.

The estimated cost of the project is $2.6 million made by Heselton Construction, LLC, of Faribault. City Engineer Tom Kellogg said the bid came in under the estimated cost from the feasibility report that was done last fall.

Construction for the Third Avenue NE project begin in April 2019 with specified substantial completion in the fall of 2019 and final completion estimated by June 30, 2020. The project is phased into two phases.

It will include a complete street and sidewalk reconstruction with the sidewalks being widened when possible and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This project will also include the replacement of a water main, sanitary sewer and storm sewer replacement and the associated restoration.

The project will be financed using a combination of Local Road Improvement Program dollars, Municipal State Aid Funds, County State Aid Funds, Special Assessments and local funds.

County Road 3 was another project done in the county that was closed to traffic and detour signage will direct motorists to the West County Line Road as an alternative paved route.

The road reopened in the fall of 2019 with the completion of the construction on the road.

10. Janesville Matters

Janesville Matters has expanded since the founding of the group.

Janesville Matters was created after the devastating fire that destroyed the Dog House Bar and Grill and caused severe damage to Wiste’s Meat Market by a group of Janesville residents who wanted to do something about the look of the town after the mess of the fire was there for months as state fire marshal’s investigation and insurance disputes delayed clean-up efforts.

“We all love Janesville, that’s why we’re here. We all think it’s important to see it revitalized,” co-president Deanna Summers said of why they started the committee.

This committee is to help improve the streets and image of the overall town. Since its inception, the committee has seen many changes and recently they were accepted as a 501c nonprofit organization.

The best benefit in being a nonprofit with 501c status is it allows them to apply for more grants.

The group started out small with ideas of adding hanging flower pots and giant flower pots to the business fronts on Main Street. They also added in metal benches to replace some of the wooden ones, improving the experience for people stopping and sitting to enjoy the city’s downtown.

Rene Niemczyk, co president, went over two near-future phases for the business owners during a May 2019 update.

In phase one, the group will be contacting businesses on Main Street and working with them to improve their storefronts and asking how Janesville Matters can assist them with other improvements. The second phase of this plan is to work with other businesses in town that are not facing the main drag and see what improvements can be made there.

In November 2019 The Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council has awarded Janesville Matters with one of the Small Arts grants available.

Janesville Matters was awarded $2,000 that will be used to create a sculpture garden.

The plan is to have four sculptures and landscaping done in front of the Janesville Public Utilities Building. The artwork will be created by Tim James, artist and Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton art teacher along with JWP Advanced Metals teacher Aiden Demarais and JWP students.

Also in November 2019 the Waseca Area Foundation awarded Janesville Matters a grant for the Sculpture garden for $ 4,700 from the EF Johnson Foundation.

Janesville Matters also helped with the coordinating, volunteering and some funding of the reading garden at the Janesville public library.

The Janesville Area Foundation, Waseca Area Foundation and Consolidated Communications gave grants to fund the reading garden. Local also donated some materials as well as plants for the space.

Niemczyk, along with Janesville Matters members, had wanted to fix up the spot next to the library for years and Janesville local student Bradly Budach presented the right opportunity.

Budach, worked with community members and groups on creating the reading garden as his Eagle Scout project.

He needed a project to gain his Eagle Scout title. The project is to demonstrate leadership of others while performing a project for the benefit of his community.

A lot of time was spent planning the layout and design of the garden along with speaking to city officials for permission. While working on the planning of the garden Budach and Janesville Matters also worked on funding it.

Honorary mention:

Train Lights

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train returned to Waseca and Janesville this year after being absent in 2018.

Spectators of all ages turned out for the holiday train on Dec. 5, 2019, as it stopped in both Waseca and Janesville.

The brightly lit holiday train made its first stop in the county as rolled into Waseca at 5:15 p.m. with the show beginning shortly after arriving. After the show in Waseca the train made its way to Janesville to perform for another audience.

“It’s really cool. It’s really exciting, especially for all the little ones,” Waseca spectator Jill Possin said.

At the rail crossing on State Street in Waseca both sides were closed off to traffic to make room for the crowd gathered to see the lights and listen to the concert performed by Meghan Patrick, Tanika Charles and Kelly Prescott.

The 1,000-foot train, made up of 14 rail cars, was decked out in hundreds of thousands of lights shaped like snowflakes, snowmen, bells and even Christmas trees among many others on both sides. Some of the rail cars had scenes of the North Pole and Santa’s Sleigh or a train filled with elves that people were able to see go by.

Canadian Pacific local workers teamed up with local authorities for crowd and traffic control during the event to ensure everyone was safe.

Once the show began the crowd closed in as close as they could get to the railcar to watch the show that lasted for about 30 minutes, in both Waseca and Janesville. The show was filled with numerous Christmas and holiday songs along with some of the artists’ own music.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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