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One person hurt in accident

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

One person was injured in a traffic accident on the south side of Underwood at 8:18 a.m. on April 13.
Sheriff deputies said the accident took place at the intersection of Highways 210 and 35.
The State Patrol, which was also at the scene, said vehicle one, a Ford pickup, was northbound on Highway 35. The second vehicle, a Toyota, was driven westbound on Highway 210.
The extent of injuries was not available but it was believed they were non-life threatening.

Minor injuries in
Dalton area mishap
Two minor injuries were reported in a two-vehicle accident that took place April 13 at Long Lake, east of Dalton. The mishap took place at 12:35 p.m. on April 13.
The location of the traffic accident was the intersection of Highway 12 and Red Fox Drive.
Sheriff deputies said the two vehicles in the accident were a SUV and farm sprayer.
“One driver was mistakenly passing the other vehicle that was in the process of making a turn,” said Sheriff Lt. Barry Fitzgibbons.
One driver complained of facial pain from contact with the steering wheel during the collision. Details of the other injury were not available.
The two victims were taken to area hospitals.

Clitherall burglary
A report of a burglary in Clitherall came into the sheriff’s office at 3:28 p.m. on April 13.
A lock on a door to a house was broken in order for a thief or thieves to gain access. A list of probable items missing was not immediately available.
Sheriff deputies believe this may be a civil matter involving a woman who lives at the house and a former male companion.

Scam averted by
Bluffton resident
A resident of Bluffton called the sheriff’s office to report an attempted scam which he avoided.
The complainant was selling a washer and dryer on Craigslist for $900.
The buyer sent a check for $1,900 and said the number one was put in by mistake. He requested that the Bluffton resident  forward $1,000 to an address in Florida.
“Fortunately, the Bluffton resident did not take the bait from this scam artist,” said County Sheriff Lt. Barry Fitzgibbons.
Fitzgibbons said these scam attempts take place often and that some people, unfortunately, fall victim to these ploys.
He urged the Bluffton resident to report the incident to Craigslist officials.
“We recommend that people doing business on Craigslist meet face to face when payment is made, and that they meet in a safe public area,” said Fitzgibbons. “Be aware of checks and money orders, and make sure nothing is irregular and unlawful.”


Burglaries reported around OT County

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

The county sheriff’s department, on April 25, reported two burglaries over the weekend.
On April 22 a burglary was reported at Nevada Drive, southwest of Inspiration Peak and west of Urbank in south central Otter Tail County.
A machine shed was forcibly entered sometime between April 17 and April 22. Items taken included five log chains, three lead binders, two propane tanks and one deep cycle battery.
A storage locker was broken into near Richville, and also reported on April 22. Multiple hand tools were taken sometime in the preceding weeks. The location was Highway 14 and 490th Avenue.
A rifle and ammunition were taken from a hunting shack at the junction of 545th Avenue and 453rd Street. The location was north of New York Mills in Homestead Township.
This incident was reported on Sunday, April 24.

Man falls victim to scam
A rural Dent man, elderly, was the victim of a scam.
The rural Dent man, who lives at Star Lake southwest of town, sent $85.36 via Western Union in hopes of winning a financial prize. He later told authorities that the voice on the other end had a Jamaican accent.
Not falling victim to a scam artist was a resident of rural Pelican Rapids. A caller wanted the man, who lives near Highway 108, to send $253 to Texas in order to obtain a prize. Instead he ended the call and contacted the sheriff’s office in Fergus Falls.

Minn. Corn Growers offering nitrate screening in Fergus Falls to help address water quality

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is encouraging farmers to bring in water samples from wells, ditches, streams or tile outlets for free nitrate screening from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on May 12 at the West Otter Tail County University of Minnesota Extension office in Fergus Falls, located at 505 South Court St.
The screening is completely confidential and takes about 20 minutes. Nitrate testing is an easy way for farmers to get a better idea about water conditions and nutrient loss on their own farms.
Collecting a sample for testing is simple:
· To take a ditch, stream or tile water sample, collect 1 cup of water in a clean plastic or glass container. Freeze your sample and bring it in cool for testing.
· For well water, run your cold tap for 5-10 minutes and collect 1 cup of water in a clean plastic or glass container. Freeze your sample and bring it in cool for testing.
· If a sample is collected within 24 hours of testing, it does not need to be frozen, but should be kept refrigerated.

Eagle Scout in Moorhead  has Pelican area connections

Ryan Schirado, son of Kim and Shirley (Marty) Schirado, Moorhead, and grandson of Jim and Janice Marty, Pelican Rapids, has earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
He will be recognized at an open house Court of Honor ceremony at 2 p.m. May 14 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 210 7th St S, Moorhead, MN.
Ryan is a junior at Moorhead High School and a member of Troop 637 with Scoutmaster Jack Sculthorp.
His Eagle project was to update the crying room at St. Joseph’s Church.

Drones used for inspections of ditches in Otter Tail County

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

In April, under two pilot projects, use of a drone proved to be successful for ditch inspections conducted by Otter Tail County.
The two locations were west of New York Mills, for County Ditches 41 and 65, and in Western Township for County Ditch 39, west of Dalton and southwest of Fergus Falls.
On April 26 the county board of commissioners gave the green light to County Ditch Inspector Kevin Fellbaum to continue with the use of drones for ditch inspections.
“Reaching certain areas such as county ditches in Otter Tail County are sometimes impossible due to limitations and obstacles of various kinds,” said Fellbaum. “That’s when use of drones becomes invaluable.”
The drones take photos and video from 50 to 60 feet above the ground.
Video ditch inspections with use of drones is available on the Otter Tail County website. Click on Ditch Inspection Video that appears under News and Notices (blue bar on home page).
Fellbaum, during an earlier county board meeting,  presented information pertaining to conducting annual ditch inspections with drones through Eagle Eye Aerial Photography.
“The benefits of utilizing drones include performing the inspections more efficiently and safely,” said Fellbaum. “Additionally, an aerial view of the ditch provides a good perspective and the recorded video can be archived.”
A motion by County Commissioner Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids and seconded by Commissioner Roger Froemming of Parkers Prairie was unanimously passed.
Further discussion included long-term storage of the drone recordings as well as how they can be made available to the public.

Dalton Opera House planning concert events, starting with May 12 Allen Edwards show

One of the most historic and unusual concert and event  venues in the region is again scheduling concerts this season–in the scenic community of Dalton.
The Dalton Opera House, dates to the early 1800s.
One of the promoters of this  historic site has Pelican Rapids connections–Mavis Schleske.  The 110 year-old facility has been the subject of ongoing renovations, restoring it similar to its early era as a dance hall, movie theater, meeting hall and political rally hall.  
On schedule May 12, 7 p.m. at the Dalton house is Allen Edwards, who is making a return engagement.  
Edwards was born and raised in Northwest Indiana where he always had two dreams as a little boy. Allen always dreamed of becoming a singer and a law enforcement officer. Little did Allen know that one day both dreams would come true. Allen put together several bands and performed throughout Northwest Indiana.
Allen also decided to pursue his other dream and that was to become a police officer. He attended the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield, Indiana and worked the streets of Northwest Indiana. Soon after this, Allen moved to Houston, Texas where he found an opportunity to advance his law enforcement career and ironically his singing career too.  Allen performed at various functions for the Houston Police Department such as the International Police Chiefs Convention at the Astro Hall in Houston and for an ABC TV special for police officers.
Allen put together several bands in Houston  and was the house band at Cowboy Country U.S.A.
In recent years the Opera House has been used for sales of second hand items. But in its early days, the old jail was in the basement under the stage, and the town of Dalton used to keep its fire truck down there too.
For ticket information for the Edwards show and information on the Dalton Opera House, contact Greg Peterson, 218-770-0095, or Mavis Schleske, 218-739-9247.

Number of septic systems protecting human health, environment at 80 percent

The 2014 SSTS Annual Report is now available online. There were 236 local governmental units (LGUs) that submitted annual report information about septic systems they regulate within their jurisdictions; that’s 86 counties, 87 cities, 61 townships, and two other permitting authorities.
A total of nearly 532,000 septic systems were reported statewide. This represents 36.4 billion gallons of wastewater in 2014.
Estimates from data provided to the MPCA since 2002 show improvements in rural wastewater treatment. Over the past 13 years, LGUs reported more than 155,800 construction permits were issued statewide. Over 77,900 of these systems were replacement systems.
In other words, an estimated 29 percent of septic systems in the state are new or have been replaced since 2002.
The number of estimated compliant systems has increased over the years, from 334,500 systems in 2007 to 424,000 systems in 2014; this represents 29 billion gallons of wastewater treated via compliant SSTS.

Tax abatement OK’d for Perham apartment complex

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

The County board of commissioners on April 26 approved tax abatement for a new 24-unit apartment building, requested by the City of Perham.
Action by the county board will assist Perham in obtaining a state Workforce Housing grant of $620,000 to alleviate housing shortages in the community.
The total cost of the 24-unit building is projected to be $2.6 million.
The city applied to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for the grant which was authorized by the 2015 Minnesota State Legislature. The application from Perham was one of two approved statewide.
Perham Economic Development Authority (EDA) Director Chuck Johnson addressed the county board of commissioners on April 26 at the Government Services Center in Fergus Falls.
“To qualify for the Workforce Housing grant, the City of Perham needs to provide a 1-to-2 match, or $310,000,” said Johnson. “We  also are requesting  abatement of taxes from the City of Perham and the Perham School District.”
Johnson said the Perham EDA has agreed to provide an interest-free loan for the project.
“The foregone interest is also part of the match,” he said.
The 24-unit apartment building will be constructed by a local development group, “Grow Perham,” which has previously constructed seven apartment buildings with about 130 units.
The parcel being purchased for the new housing project in Perham is large enough for four additional apartment buildings.
“Perham has been highly visible in communicating the need for housing in previous years,” said Johnson. “It’s a credit to community leaders to be proactive in this approach.”
Perham has many jobs that could be filled if more housing were available for potential workers. For instance, KLN says it could add 100 workers right away but that housing, or lack of it, is a current stumbling block for potential workers.
The county board has approved only a handful of tax abatements the past two years.
To that end, county board members directed County Auditor-Treasurer Wayne Stein to work with the county’s finance committee and come up with a updated tax abatement policy.

Housing task force to explore sites for Pelican projects
Housing is a concern throughout Otter Tail County, from the west side in the Pelican Rapids area to the east side and Perham.  
Both cities have placed a high priority on housing, and Pelican’s housing task force has been meeting regularly, reported city administrator Don Solga at the April 26 Pelican Rapids City Council meeting.
Identifying building sites will be paart of the focus of a tour with a developer, planned in June, announced Solga.
“We’ll be looking at areas of the city for possible development, talking about what projects will fit, and who we can work together with to make it happen,” said Solga.


Bear caught on trail camera near Ye Olde Schoolhouse

A black bear in the sights of his trail camera made him “sit up in his chair.” Bryan Stetz placed a camera near his deer stand at the first of the year, but the images of a bear and cubs that he captured April 27 were a surprise.
Stetz placed the camera near his restaurant, Ye Olde School House and Tonseth Lutheran Church.
“They’re nocturnal,” said Stetz. One of the images is pictured here. Though there are increasing frequency of reports of bear in nearby Maplewood State Park, the sightings are still somewhat uncommon in the greater Pelicn Rapids area.

County board, area legislators  talk road funds, broadband

“We continue to stress to lawmakers that we’re doing our part to come up with more needed funding for roadway maintenance...Now it’s up to the state legislature to do its part.”

Lee Rogness, chairman, Otter Tail County Board


By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

Roadway maintenance funding and others issues were discussed Tuesday, April 19, when the five members of the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners met with area legislators at the state capitol in St. Paul.
“Our goal was to discuss proposed bills and legislation that could  affect the residents of Otter Tail County,” said Commission Chairman Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls.  read entire story. . . .

National, State Parks ‘On the Air’

News of Maplewood, state park 125th anniversary traveled around the globe–thanks to amateur radio operators

A St. Cloud Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Operations Unit broadcasted from Maplewood State Park April 2.
The Radio Unit joined with MN State Parks and the NPS to celebrate Minnesota State Parks & Trails 125th  anniversary and the National Park Service's 100th Anniversary with a transmissions/operations event adjacent to the North Country Trail in Maplewood State Park.
The National Park Services North Country Scenic Trail runs across seven states from North Dakota to New York. When completed, the trail will be the longest continuous hiking trail in the United States. The trail runs through Maplewood State Park making it a perfect place to activate for this radio event (NPOTA).  read entire story. . . .

Stolen property felony leads to sentencing

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

Zachary Allan Rogers, 24, of Fargo, was sentenced in county court in Fergus Falls on March 18 after a conviction of receiving stolen property. He also had been charged with theft and transporting of stolen property in crimes committed in Otter Tail County.
The incidents date back to Feb. 11, 2015.
Rogers was sentenced to 18 months in the Minnesota Correctional Facility, St. Cloud. The length of sentence could be shortened following time for good behavior. Court fines also were part of his sentence.

Sentence tied to
felony weapons
Christopher Lee Wynn, 31, of Fergus Falls, was sentenced March 17 in county court, Fergus Falls, following a felony conviction on assault with a dangerous weapon.
He was sentenced to 34 months in the Minnesota Correctional Facility, St. Cloud. His sentence could be shortened for time served with good behavior.
Court fines were also part of the sentencing.



Views on hydroelectric power shared at Otter Tail meeting

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

Customers of  Otter Tail Power Company took the opportunity to express their opinions and ask questions about relicensing of OTP’s five hydroelectric stations in the Fergus Falls area.
This took place during an evening public meeting  April 18 in Fergus Falls.
“It was a good and informative meeting,” said OTP retiree Chuck Brunko who lives upstream from the Hoot Lake waterpower station. Hoot Lake also has an adjoining coal-fired station.
The hydroelectric licenses will expire in November 2021. The relicensing process will take five years.
Otter Tail Power is under authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as part of the five-year relicensing process.
Hydroelectric stations, along the Otter  Tail River and in addition to the station at Hoot Lake, include Taplin Gorge (Friberg), Wright (Central), Pisgah and Dayton Hollow.
It was at Dayton Hollow in April 1909, five miles south of Fergus Falls, where Otter Tail Power Company generated electricity for the first time.
Later, Otter Tail Power invested in coal-fired plants in western Minnesota, eastern and central North Dakota and in northeastern South Dakota. In recent years OTP has invested in wind energy as part of its generation mix.
Even though the waterpower stations generate less than one percent of OTP’s electricity, they are valued for their reliability along the Otter Tail River. The reservoirs also provide recreational opportunities for canoeing, boating, kayaking, fishing and other activities.
In previous years Otter Tail Power has also generated electricity at a sixth hydroelectric station, east of Bemidji along the Mississippi River.

Holding tank minimum of 1,500 gallon set under Otter Tail sanitation code

County Land and Resource Director Bill Kalar told county commissioners about proposed revisions to the county sanitation code.
Kalar reported that the Otter Tail County sanitation code previously okayed by county board members was subject to approval by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA).
“The PCA objected to the change of sizing of holding tanks,” said Kalar.  
In response, a motion by county board members was approved, calling for the minimum size for a holding tank to be 1,500 gallons for dwellings and for other establishments.
For purposes of design flow determination, a minimum 1,500-gallon holding tank may be installed on a temporary basis not to exceed one year.
Kalar will provide the new language to the PCA for approval.  read entire story. . . .

Woman has minor injury near Vergas

A female driver received minor injuries in a one-vehicle accident at 9:25 a.m. on April 21 near the intersection of Vergas Trail and Highway 17, northwest of  Vergas.
The woman was driving a Jeep Cherokee which drifted off the right side of a curve on Highway 17 and entered the ditch, said County Sheriff Lt. Barry Fitzgibbons during a news media briefing on April 22.
The woman had an injury to her ankle. The vehicle, which received moderate front-end damage, was towed to Vergas.  read entire story. . . .

Disposal of electronics plan supported by Otter Tail County

Otter Tail County Assistant Solid Waste Director Zach Fjestad requested support from the county board of commissioners  to change the current electronics recycling (state) bill drafted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA).
The change also was recommended by the  Solid Waste Administrators Association (SWAA).
A motion by Commissioner Doug Huebsch of Perham and seconded by Commissioner Roger Froemming of Parkers Prairie was unanimously carried to support the request of Fjestad.
“We’ll also have this recommendation as part of our priorities when we meet with area legislators on April 19,” said Huebsch.
The legislative bill would allow electronic manufacturers to count only video display devices towards their electronic recycling obligation.
“The video display devices are the issue with disposal,” said Huebsch, “and currently manufacturers are counting all electronic items towards their recycling obligation. This is increasing expenses for taxpayers.”