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Fuel stop planned soon for south side of Wadena

A view from above Hwy 71 south of Wadena shows an open field area next to Central Minnesota Trucking (top of photo). Two lots in this area are planned to be a future site of a Sinclair Short Stop gas station. Map courtesy Google Maps

For those who've been dreaming of access to fuel on the south side of the railroad tracks in Wadena—it appears you'll be pumping soon.

"I've had people say, 'When are we going to get gas on the south side of town,'" Wadena Development Authority Executive Director Dean Uselman said to an excited city council Wednesday night.

The Wadena City Council unanimously approved the sale of two Wadena city lots to Hunkes Transfer Wednesday evening during a special meeting. Those lots, one of which is right off Hwy 71 South, were bought with the plan of adding 24-hour pay-at-the-pump gas and a bulk fuel station.

The location of these lots is next to the Hunkes Transfer/Central Minnesota Trucking facility, south of Wadena on the west side of Hwy 71, it's also across from County Road 100 and Leaf River Ag. Hunkes plan to expand in Wadena's industrial park is pushed on by the reconstruction of Hwy 10 through Wadena, where Hunke's currently has bulk fuel.

The lot right off Hwy 71 is where the pay-at-the-pump facility is planned to be built. That lot sold for $18,000 and a lot behind that one, (Lot 5 block 2), is where the bulk fuel would be located. It sold for $25,000. These construction projects could move forward after MnDOT approval.

Through the approval, Hunkes also has the option to purchase another lot to make room for additional growth within the next five years. Hunke's had to buy two lots because they could not place both a retail fuel and bulk fuel on the same parcel, according to Uselman.

While Hunkes is buying the property for the public pumps, it will be branded as a Sinclair Short Stop. And while that indicates no convenience store at this time, Uselman said the convenience store is a part of the plans. First things are to hopefully install the pumps before the ground freezes with the public able to simply pay-at-the-pump.

"This would be a really great step forward," Uselman said. "The representative from Sinclair encouraged Pat (Hunke) to move forward with the convenience store, in fact he stated, in his words, 'if you don't want to do that, I will,' so I am pretty confident a convenience store will follow, fairly shortly."

Wadena City Council member Bruce Uselman asked how they came up with the purchase amounts. Director Uselman explained that the purchase price of the lots was derived from an assessment of the property location, size, and similar sales through the county assessor.

Council member Wade Miller said he liked that the bulk plant would be off the highway. Councilman Bruce Uselman felt this addition would really be an improvement.

"That's gonna really make that look appealing," Uselman said.

Homecrest loan

The council also unanimously approved an application for a loan of $157,210 from the MIF Revolving Loan Fund for Peak Financial/Homecrest Outdoor Furniture to purchase a robotic welding system. Peak Financial acts as a lease company for various companies of the Homecrest owners.

Uselman said Homecrest has had welding positions open for over two years. While they have filled some positions, they are still in need of welders, creating a bottleneck in production.

The robotic welding system would do the output of two welders with one position that does not have to be a welder. That employee could set up materials for the robot to weld.

"So it will make their production a little more streamlined, a little more efficient," director Uselman said.

Uselman indicated that Homecrest has been good about making their payments in the previous loans they have received through the MIF fund.

Terms of the loan are five years at 3 percent interest.

Uselman thanked council members for taking swift action on the items. All council members were present.

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