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Wadena asks lawmakers to make it whole

Rep. Mark Mudock of Perham (left) and lobbyist J.D. Burton ask a House committee to provide money to build the Wadena Wellness Center, replacing several facilities destroyed by a June 2010 tornado.

ST. PAUL -- Wadena is asking the Minnesota Legislature to finish its recovery from a June 2010 tornado.

The city seeks $4.75 million to build the Wadena Wellness Center, replacing several facilities the tornado destroyed.

"I look at this project as finishing the rebuilding and making Wadena whole again," Rep. Mark Murdock, R-Perham, told the House jobs committee Tuesday.

Committee members will consider the bill again when deciding where they would spend money for public works projects.

The full project would cost $10 million, with non-state funds coming from a federal disaster payment, insurance payments and local fundraisers.

The wellness center would replace facilities including a swimming pool, community center, gymnasium and handball courts and add a fitness center. A high school and ice arena already are under construction nearby.

The center would serve all or part of Wadena, Otter Tail and Todd counties.

No representative spoke against the proposal, but several asked about insurance payments to replace the destroyed buildings.

Murdock and lobbyist J.D. Burton said insurance would not fully pay for replacement. For instance, the outside swimming pool built in 1958 was destroyed, and would be replaced by a larger indoor pool.

"Is this going to be a palace?" Rep. Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis, asked. No one answered him.

A report by supporters says the wellness center would create 150 construction jobs and up to 10 permanent jobs.