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Scam complaints continue, reports Sheriff’s Dept.

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

The sheriff’s department, on Aug. 18, urged county residents to continue to be aware of possible scams.
Two scams were averted in recent days, one near Bluffton, on Aug. 16, and one in Pelican Rapids, on Aug. 17.
A resident near Bluffton, in efforts to sell a horse, requested receipt of a check from the buyer before the horse would be delivered. The seller received a check that looked suspicious, which turned out to be correct after authorities were contacted.
Oftentimes, the scam artist issues a check for more than the amount (ie. $600 instead of $400), and then asks the potential victim (seller) to issue a check for the difference ($200). Unfortunately, some people take the bait, losing $200 and finding later that the $600 check is worthless.  read entire story. . . .

Main muskie battlefront has moved from Otter Tail lakes area

The center of the “muskie melee” has moved out of the Otter Tail County lakes area–eastward to the Brainerd lakes area.
The DNR has announced plans to stock muskies in the high profile Gull Lake Chain north of Brainerd–while abandoning plans in the Pelican area.
But the muskie issue has spawned what is evidently a new organization: Minnesotans/Taxpayers For Family Fishing (MFF/TFF).
The organization is in the process of compiling a list of persons concerned with the Minnesota position on continued stocking and new stocking of muskies in Minnesota lakes.  The group is collecting a petition of signatures in an effort to influence the Minnesota DNR and Minnesota legislators to stop the stocking of muskies in Minnesota lakes.
The DNR, on July 25, announced that lakes near Brainerd and Fairmont will be added as muskie lakes.
No new muskie lakes will be added in Otter Tail County, though the muskie management program is likely to continue in Pelican Lake–which was stocked more than 30 years ago.
A plan by the DNR called for stocking muskies in one of three county lakes in 2016. On the list were Franklin Lake and Lake Lizzie northeast of Pelican Rapids and Loon Lake near Vergas.  read entire story. . . .

Zebra mussels found in Big Detroit Lake

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed three new reports of zebra mussels in central Minnesota lakes in the last week: Detroit Lake in Becker County, Signalness Lake (popularly known as Mountain Lake) in Pope County, and Round Lake in Aitkin and Crown Wing counties.
The number of new zebra mussel finds in 2016 is running close to last year at this time. “Most new zebra mussel infestations are found and reported from late July to mid-August,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “Ten new finds have been confirmed this season, similar to the number confirmed last year at this time. We also add some connected waters to the list when their infestation is likely.”
Less than two percent of Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes are listed as infested with zebra mussels.
DNR invasive species staff confirmed two juvenile zebra mussels and two adults at two locations about a mile apart on Detroit Lake in Becker County.  read entire story. . . .

Lake activists earn accolades

Pine Lakes Improvement District honored

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

The Otter Tail Coalition of Lakes Association (COLA), which held its annual awards night on Aug. 18 at the city of Ottertail Community Center, presented the “Lake Association of the Year” award to the Pine Lakes Improvement District of rural Perham.
COLA represents all 1,049 lakes in Otter Tail County, various lake associations and has a mission “to serve and protect our lakes.”  
To be considered for “Lake Association of the Year,” the lake organization must be a present member of COLA, have successfully implemented a lake improvement project, implemented an educational or outreach program, increased membership and have successfully partnered with local, county, state and federal agencies.
The Otter Tail County Pine Lakes Improvement District was approved by the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners in 1999.  read entire story. . . .

Horgen honored with  new award from COLA

Jerry Horgen, honored with the inaugural President’s Award from the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA), has a long list of volunteerism in helping to preserve area lakes.
Horgen retired in 2003 and started volunteering with the West Battle Lakeshore Association in 2004 on the executive board, addressing issues on West Battle Lake.
He performed secchi disc readings, for lake water quality assessment programs, from 2004 to 2014. During that time he served on the Shoreline Rules and Management Committee for Otter Tail County.
Horgen later joined the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Task Force for Otter Tail County.
He developed the “Train the Teachers to Train the Kids” program that offers an AIS program for school districts in Otter Tail County. Work is done in coordination with a biologist at Detroit Lakes-based RMB Labs.
Horgen has served as the education liaison for COLA.

Water sampling award goes to Bryan Zepper

The County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) on Aug. 18 awarded Bryan Zepper of Big Pine Lake, rural Perham, with the Achievement Award for Water Sampling.
Zepper has voluntarily performed these duties the past 19 years.
“Lake monitoring is an excellent strategy for understanding one’s lake and protecting it from decline,” said Moriya Rufer of the RMB Labs in Detroit Lakes who works closely with lake associations in Otter Tail County.
Volunteers such as Zepper commit their time to lake monitoring which means that water quality issues can be addressed before they get too big and too expensive to fix.
“Our volunteers such as Bryan are committed to this monitoring so that lake associations, county and state agencies and others can keep an eye on the lake so it can be enjoyed by future generations,” said David Majkrzak, COLA president.

Farm Service Agency election workshop set

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) office is holding a series of workshops explaining the various roles of the FSA County Committee (COC).
Each workshop is designed to inform and educate eligible voters about the role of the FSA office. Workshop #3 will be held August 24 at the FSA Office Conference Room at 10:00 a.m.
Workshop #3 will explain the COC Election Ballot and Voting Process. Anyone interested in learning more about the COC Election Ballot and Voting Process should plan on attending the meeting. If you ever wondered how the FSA and the County Committee system works, here is your chance.
County Committees are a direct link between the farm community and the USDA.  Responsibilities of elected members include participating in county meetings, administering farm program activities, recommending needed changes in farm programs, keeping the State Committee informed of conditions at the county level, and performing other duties that the State Committee may assign.
A fourth and final workshop will be held on September 13th. Workshop #4 will review the COC Election Voter Eligibility, How Elections Are Held, & Votes Tabulated.
For information, contact Leon Johnson at (218) 739-4694 or Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 by May 26, 2016.

National Farmers Organization  sets state convention Aug. 27

The National Farmers Organization of Minnesota will hold its state convention Saturday, Aug. 27 at Elmer Z’s, 1225 Timberline Drive, in Sauk Center. Elmer Z’s is right off the interstate in Sauk Center.
The convention will be called to order by state president Joe Neaton at 9:30 a.m. and will run until 3:30 p.m.
Father Michael Miller, a Catholic priest from central Minnesota, will be the guest speaker and will share his thoughts and feelings about farming and families, and the current low commodity prices being faced by farmers. Father Miller was born and raised on a farm and recently purchased his home place from his parents. He currently writes a column for the Catholic Servant once a month.
Something new this year  will be a question and answer session with staff, national board members and state board members after commodity reports are given. There is also a trustee position open for election.

Agriculture water quality  program reaches  100,000 acres milestone

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program recently reached a milestone with the enrollment of its 100,000th acre in the state.
This voluntary program for farmers and landowners protects the state’s water resources. Since the program’s inception, nearly 200 farms have been certified. The 100,000th-acre enrollment goes to Dean Marshik and Clare Palmquist, and their son Daniel Maurer.
The family runs a 150-cow dairy and associated crop farm near Pierz in Morrison County. To date the program has kept more than 7.7 million pounds of sediment out of Minnesota rivers, while saving nearly 10.3 million pounds of soil and 4,795 pounds of phosphorous on farms, each year.
Those numbers will increase as more landowners enroll in the program. More than 391 new conservation practices have been implemented that protect Minnesota’s waters.

Theft reported near Lida

Taken from an unlocked pickup in Lida Township, east of Pelican Rapids, were a wallet, binocular and phone charger. Total value was estimated at close to $400.
The incident was reported to the sheriff’s office at 6:06 a.m. on Aug. 17.
Child endangerment
takes place near Fergus
Sheriff deputies arrested a man for DWI and child endangerment Aug. 16 south of Fergus Falls, near the intersection of Highway 1 and Silver Ridge Road.
The driver was arrested and taken to the county jail. The youth was released to the child’s uncle.

Area watershed updated on  flood water storage study

Chuck Fritz, Executive Director, International Water Institute (IWI), attended the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District meeting August 8, in Barnesville.  
He updated the Board regarding three projects that IWI is working on.  The first is the Prioritize, Target, and Measure Application (PTMApp) which is an innovative new tool that will help users with all aspects of water quality planning, from describing the watershed to developing implementation plans.
The second thing involves a runoff-drainage assessment geographic information systems (GIS) application.  The project will review and evaluate relevant literature and alternative assessment methods; investigate data layers and analyze criteria; draft a memo summarizing available data, methods, and proposed framework; and submit an outline to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and the Minnesota Drainage Work Group.  
Work items include review of alternative drainage assessment efforts, review cited and other pertinent literature, review applicable data layers and analyze criteria, and prepare a memo summarizing the literature review of available methods.  Task II includes development of a conceptual GIS application to assess drainage system benefits.  Task III is legal consultation to provide access to the information via Minnesota Drainage Law, Chapter 103E, and revisions necessary to enable a proposed GIS application and data products as a legal option.  Task IV is developing a GIS workflow/prototype.  read entire story. . . .

DNR offers tips to forest owners dealing with storm damage

The recent blowdown in northern Minnesota caused major damage to state lands, as well as private forest lands. While landowners are not required to clean up downed trees and debris, the Department of Natural Resources is encouraging private forest owners and homeowners to consider salvaging and replacing damaged areas.
“Salvage and cleanup will likely be necessary to regenerate the forest and reduce the potential for wildfires and outbreak of insects and diseases,” said John Carlson, DNR private forest management coordinator. “The first step is to assess the extent of the damage and determine whether a timber sale is needed.”
Working in storm-damaged areas is dangerous; so Carlson strongly recommends that only foresters, loggers or tree care companies do the work. Consider hiring a consulting forester to help assess, sell and replant damaged forests.  
For smaller properties, the damage may simply require removal of trees with broken tops or limbs and severely bent or fallen trees. Consider retaining a few storm-damaged trees for wildlife habitat.
For large forest stands, a salvage harvest may be the best option. Salvage harvests remove trees that have been damaged. Healthy, undamaged trees with full crowns are retained.
There are several considerations when considering a salvage harvest on private land:  read entire story. . . .

Good news for babies...More  Minnesota WIC moms are breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is important for infants, moms, dads, and families, and for society. More WIC moms and babies are breastfeeding, and WIC is celebrating. More dads and grandparents are excited about supporting this healthy start, and WIC is celebrating. More hospitals have adopted practices to improve breastfeeding support, and WIC is celebrating. The Fact Sheet Breastfeeding in Minnesota’s WIC Program, 2015 illustrates progress in supporting breastfeeding, and WIC is celebrating! Since this report was released, WIC continues to demonstrate progress, with over 80% of WIC infants initiating breastfeeding and almost half of these continuing to 3 months or more. In 2015, 85.3% of infants participating in the Otter Tail County WIC program initiated breastfeeding and 50.7% breastfed for 3 months or more (46.8% is the state of Minnesota rate).  read entire story. . . .

Otter Tail Awarded WCI Competitive Workforce Grant

Otter Tail County is one of six regional organizations to receive a West Central Initiative 2016 Competitive Workforce Grant award. Otter Tail County Tourism and Economic Development will use the $40,000 grant for its Rural Rebound Initiative. The countywide initiative will help recruit workers with needed skills to the region, facilitate collaboration between employers, educators and other entities with an interest in workforce development, and establish a Rural Youth Leadership Institute.
According to Nick Leonard, Otter Tail County Director of Tourism and Economic Development, “Our aging population will undoubtedly exacerbate an already tight labor market. However, existing research contradicts conventional wisdom that a loss of young talent must continue to plague rural Minnesota too.”  Otter Tail County’s grant proposal is focused on leveraging a research-based phenomenon known as the “rural rebound” or “brain gain,” which has documented an increase in 30 – 49 year olds returning or moving to rural communities.  read entire story. . . .