WARD COUNTY — Ward County Commissioners have identified a building in Kenmare that they say should be demolished. [Video of the full meeting]
The county is in the process of developing a list of recommendations for spending $13.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act 2021 (ARPA) funds, which are additional COVID-19 relief funds. Approximately $10 million can now be used for needs unrelated to COVID, such as removing old structures.
The building in Kenmare that they are considering using ARPA funds to remove is the Olson Apartment Building on 122 Central Avenue, which has been abandoned for, at least, three years, according to Chairman Jim Rostad and Commissioner John Fjeldahl.
Rostad stated at the meeting, “We own this building, and this building is a liability for Ward County.”
Commissioner Shelly Weppler explained the county acquired the building by virtue of the owner failing to pay taxes on the property.
“A guy from Canada abandoned it,” said Rostad. “And I did take a tour of it up there and thought, ‘Holy Cow! There is no salvaging here.’ They even had someone go through as far as to salvage and remodel it, and they said, ‘this building should be condemned.’”
Commissioners Weppler and John Pietsch are on the ARPA fund committee that is currently preparing the list of recommendations that will be brought before the board of commissioners.
Weppler explained, “We don’t have the end approval. We are putting together a plan for the full $13 million. I will tell you that plan includes things outside of the box and considerations, and this is something that should be added.”
Chairman Rostad concluded, “I really hope that we are mindful of the needs outside of the Ward County departments.”
“Very much so,” Weppler affirmed. “There’s no secrets. It is a working committee, and we decided we needed one more meeting… so we are taking into consideration that there will be needs coming from all corners of our county.”
The ARPA committee will finalize its recommendation list on Monday, Jan. 24 at 1:00 pm, before presenting it at the county commissioners’ next meeting.
“By February we will have a process determined,” stated Weppler.
The next commission meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 9:00 am.