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Casino app heard by Otter Tail planners

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

The County Planning Commission, during its Sept. 21 evening meeting that was open to the public, tabled a recommendation on the White Earth Nation’s application for a conditional use permit.
The application pertains to construction of a proposed parking lot on non-Native American land adjacent to tribal land where a new casino is proposed on the southwest side of Star Lake.
The reason behind the decision to table is to allow for completion of environmental review related to the proposed site southeast of Pelican Rapids and southwest of Dent.
The planning commission’s recommendation, through the conditional use permit application from White Earth Nation, will eventually be forwarded to the five-person Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners which will make a final decision.
The county planning commission, chaired Sept. 21 by Rick Wilson, includes 10 members who consider shoreland areas for conditional use permits.
One area of study is topographical alterations. With this in mind, the commission requested that White Earth Nation consider a new design for its proposed parking lot adjacent to the planned casino.  read entire story. . . .

Theas Pumpkin Patch - Phone Number Correction

The zebra mussels of Pelican Lake

Unwanted, undesireable, despised...like mosquitoes...you just learn to live with them.
Not exactly an apocalypse now, aquatic invaders have become an ugly, evil alien that science and research may some day overcome......Until then, the horror of zebra mussels is a grim reality.
By Louis Hoglund

Like those pests of the air, mosquitoes, zebra mussels are aquatic nuisances that we’re  probably just going to need to live with.
“You can kill off some...there will be an ebb and flow. But they won’t go away,” said Dave Majkrzak, president of the Otter Tail Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA). “Zebra mussels have been in the Caspian Sea for two million years...they’re not headed for extinction.”
Minnesota’s lakes are mere “youngsters” in the scheme of antiquity. Created only about 10,000 years ago from retreating glaciers, zebra mussels are newcomers to Minnesota’s relatively  “new” lakes–compared to the ancient Caspian of east Asia.
Only research, science–and time–will determine whether Minnesota’s lakes will continue to be infested with these aquatic invaders.
With only about 2 percent of the state’s 11,000 lakes containing zebra mussels, the best defense today is  read entire story. . . .

continued - Living with invaders

Pelican among the earliest area lakes invaded by zebra mussels

Snorkelers and scuba divers first  confirmed reports of zebra mussels in Pelican in September of 2009.  
“But they really weren’t noticed by property owners until 2011,” said Moria Rufer, RMB Labs, who is lake “manager” under a contract with the Pelican Lake Improvement District. “So it took about two years to spread around the lake.”
By contrast, zebra mussels were confirmed in Big Cormorant–but they’ve been hardly seen since.  It could be variations in the ecosystem from lake to lake. The mussels may not thrive in the conditions of Big Cormorant.
Pelican Lake water clarity on the rise...but is that a good thing?
It was in 2012 that the clarity of Pelican Lake began to increase, thanks to the zebra mussels. Where you could see 12 feet into the depths in the past; you could now see 20 feet down.
Clearer water, cleaner water, better water quality...right?
Mother Nature doesn’t work in such a simple manner.  
Yes–zebra mussels filter the water and make it cleaner. On average, Pelican Lake’s clarity is seven feet “deeper” than it was prior to 2009, said Rufer.  But clean,  clear water means more sunlight penetration;  read entire story. . . .

Zebra mussels confirmed in Lake Sallie

The Department of Natural Resources has confirmed four new reports of zebra mussels in Minnesota lakes.
DNR invasive species specialists confirmed zebra mussels at three locations in Lake Sallie in Becker County. The initial report came from a lake property owner who spotted a half-inch zebra mussel on his dock.
Lake Sallie is downstream of Detroit Lake, where zebra mussels were confirmed earlier this year.
Zebra mussels have also been confirmed in Lake Andrew in Douglas County; Lac qui Parle in Chippewa, Lac qui Parle and Swift counties; and Big Birch Lake in Todd and Stearns counties.
DNR invasive species specialists confirmed zebra mussels on offshore buoys in Lake Andrew in Douglas County. Invasive species specialists also confirmed zebra mussels in Lac qui Parle Lake, a reservoir on the Minnesota River in western Minnesota.
DNR invasive species specialists confirmed one adult zebra mussel at the county access on the southeast side of Big Birch Lake, in Todd and Stearns counties.
Hungry fish and muskrats, with a taste for “seafood” can help control the explosion of the zebra mussel population.
But, with Mama Zebra Mussel reproducing a million babies a year, “predators” can’t keep ahead of the birth rate.
Zebra mussels have been found in the stomachs of walleye, reported Dave Majkrzak,  current president of  read entire story. . . .

Pelican Lake improvement organizations, facts, figures

• Pelican was one of the first lakes to form a Lake Improvement District (LID), dating to 1994.  A quasi governmental entity, LIDs have taxing authority.  The Pelican Group of Lakes Improvement District tax collections average about $100 per property per year.
• Since its formation, the PGOLID has invested about $2.5 million in water quality monitoring, aquatic invasive species prevention, mosquito control, septic system education, shoreline restoration and other lake-enhancing projects.  Current president of PGOLID is Jay Elshaug.
• Surveys of Pelican Lake homeowners, though not entirely statistically accurate as participating was voluntary, indicate that lakeshore owners aren’t necessarily the “very wealthy.” Based on the Pelican Lake survey, about 70 percent of the property owners have incomes of less than $100,000 a year.  
• Another surprising survey result, 27 percent of the people on Pelican Lake don’t even own a boat.  
• Top reasons for owning property on Pelican are enjoying the view; peace and tranquility; gardening and landscaping.  Boating is fourth; and fishing didn’t make the top five.
• The Pelican Lake Property Owners Association dates back to 1933.
• There are 860 dues paying members–of about 950 parcel owners around the lake–bringing membership to about 91 percent of all property owners around the lake.
• Dues were held at $45 a year for about two decades, but recently were increased to $50 a year.
• Annual budget of the property owners group is about $55,000.
• One of the largest institutions on the lake is the “Castaway Club,” which is affiliated with the Young Life organization.  The youth camp is one of 17 Young Life facilities–and the only one in Minnesota.  It draws about 450 young people each week during the summer, for recreational and educational activities.
• One of the association’s big recreational projects is its $19,000 fireworks display, which attracts up to 600 boats and 800 cars for spectating.
• The annual trash and debris pick-up, around the entire lake, is one of the most popular Pelican association projects–conducted in collaboration with Pelican Rapids-based Ballard Sanitation.
• The Pelican association was also instrumental in bringing natural gas to unserved areas of the Otter Tail-Becker County lake country.
 read entire story. . . .

Hammering away to help a veteran

There was a whole lotta huggin’ goin’ on in the Maplewood hills–as a team of veterans, firefighters pitched in to re-roof the Betty Lou Engelhart place

By Louis Hoglund

Nobody departs from Betty Lou Engelhart’s place without a hug...or two...or more...
And it was a regular hug-fest late summer at Betty Lou’s property in the Maplewood hill country–when a squadron of volunteers pitched in to shingle Betty Lou’s roof.  
It was a classic case of veterans coming to the aid of veterans.  Betty Lou is an Army Medical Corps veteran, and it was the guys from the Pelican Rapids Post 5252 VFW who were instrumental in pulling together the all-volunteer roofing crew.
“I’m so happy,” said a beaming Betty Lou, as about a dozen workers scaled ladders, hauled shingles and hammered away. “My doctor absolutely forbid me from going on the roof, since my shoulder surgery.”
A unique collaboration, the neighborly re-roofing project included VFW members, Habitat for Humanity, and volunteers from, of all places, the Fargo Fire Department–the boys from the “C Shift,” to be precise.  read entire story. . . .

Otter Tail services focus of “Veterans Town Hall”  session October 6 at  Pelican Library, 10 a.m.

Veterans in the greater Pelican Rapids area will have an opportunity to meet one-on-one to discuss veteran services and issues on Oct. 6.
Charlie Kampa, Otter Tail County Veterans Service Officer will have a “Veterans Town Hall” session at the Pelican Rapids Public Library, starting at 10 a.m.
The vast array of VA entitlements seem to change nearly daily–service connected disability compensation, VA non-service connected pensions, VA Healthcare burial and memorial benefits, dependants and survivor benefits.
Other common discussion topics include military medal and records, MN Veterans Home admission for veterans and spouses.
“These are a few subjects to be discussed, and I welcome questions,” said Charlie Kampa, who invites area veterans to the Pelican Public Library session.  

Election 2016: House race pits veteran state lawmaker against Pelican councilman

Nornes says experience a key campaign component

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Corresponden

Bud Nornes was first elected to the Minnesota State Legislature in 1996.
The native of Fertile, Minnesota, and former radio station owner is running for reelection in 2016 as a Republican in Minnesota House District 8A. His district includes a large portion of Otter Tail County, including the communities of Perham, Pelican Rapids, Battle Lake and Fergus Falls.
His DFL opponent is C.J. Holl of Pelican Rapids.
“I strongly believe that legislative experience really does matter,” said Nornes, “Knowing how the state legislature works and how state government works is a big benefit when I’m working for the people of Otter Tail County.”
Nornes also says that experience from being a school board member earlier in his career also bodes him well when working with the legislative process.
Nornes is among four House Republicans with the most seniority. The others are Bob Gunther of  read entire story. . . .

Pelican Homecoming candidates

Rockin’ theme selected for Pelican Homecoming week

The Pelican Rapids High School student council has announced the Homecoming Court and the events for this year’s celebration.
Homecoming is the week of September 26 through September 30.  
The council chose to go with a 1950s theme for this year's events.  An old fashion Sock Hop will end the festivities after the Homecoming football game on Friday night.
The following students were chosen to represent their class and be on the Homecoming Court:
Freshmen: Matthew Ziebell, Matthew Osborne, Rylie Paulson, Riley Berg
Sophomores: James Furey, Tucker Maus, Kristen Haiby, Sarah Willits
Juniors:  Jacob Gottenborg, Nick Schermerhorn, Celeste Stoll, Rachel Gottenborg
Homecoming King Candidates:  Preston Hart, Matt Hanson & Kevin Nemec
Homecoming Queen Candidates:  Lorena Diaz, Abby Johnson and Emily Monson
Following is a run down of events that will take place the week of Homecoming:
Monday - September 30 - Coronation in the Fine Arts Auditorium at 7:00 P.M.   * An after-coronation gathering will be hosted by Zorbaz on Pelican Lake.  read entire story. . . .

Winter ‘no parking’ law likely to be abandoned

City snowplow crews loved the law; but public was confused by ‘odd-even’ parking law

By Louis Hoglund

The winter parking ordinance that everybody loved to hate–except for the Pelican Rapids city snow plowing crew–will be eliminated following action by the city council Sept. 13.
“It’s  too complicated,” said Councilman Steve Strand, of the parking law implemented two years ago. The parking law, with its no parking restrictions on odd and even numbered addresses, was frustrating for many–including Councilman Strand, who ran for the city post partly because of the parking ordinance he never liked.
The parking law was implemented,  in large part, to aid the city works crews.  Prior to the ordinance, plow truck drivers found themselves returning to some streets two or three times in order to clear the snow–because of parked cars.
The parking ordinance was  from October to May, and was aimed at consolidating parked  cars on one side–clearing the way for the plows.  read entire story. . . .

Dealing with loss of a loved one

Suicide ‘survivors’ face range of emotions–shock to guilt to anger

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two parts on the painful subject of suicide. There have been several suicides in the Pelican Rapids area over the past couple years, and writer Daniel Motz has been directly affected–when his uncle, longtime local ambulance EMT Hank VanCleef, committed suicide
earlier this year.

By  Daniel Motz  
Special Correspondent

Dealing with death is never easy, there is no way that the loss of a loved one can be considered a simple act. But in cases of something like suicide, it is harder.  
There are so many questions that come up One of the most common questions is how could someone do it?  According to most mental health experts the answer isn't the typical, which is questioning how someone could be so lost. The truth is, most people see suicide as the only escape from an unbearable pain. The pain that they were suffering is usually something that the rest of us see as short lived, but for some reason, to them it seems like a forever prospect. No one can ever fully understand why people choose  read entire story. . . .