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Veterans home is pride of Otter Tail County

Vets from Pearl Harbor to Korea to Vietnam call facility ‘home’

The Minnesota Veterans Home in Fergus Falls is the pride and joy for all residents of Otter Tail County. The home opened in 1998.
A major addition to the vets home was completed in April, 2011. This expanded the home from 66,000 square feet to one with 99,000 square feet.
Total residents are 106. Included are World War II veterans, Korean War veterans, Vietnam veterans, those who served during peacetime and spouses of veterans.  read entire story. . . .

Icy roads create choas on Otter Tail County, area roads

Icy roads, deer on roadways and other factors resulted in several vehicle accidents in recent days in Otter Tail County. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported.
Following is a summary:
• A driver, northeast of Pelican Rapids, lost control of a vehicle at the intersection of 430th Street and 210th Avenue. The accident took place at 4:19 p.m. on Jan. 14.
• Dead Lake Road was the location of a traffic mishap at 10:54 p.m. on Jan. 14. The driver lost control along a curve, entered the ditch and struck a fence. Alcohol was a factor in this incident.
• Shortly after midnight in the early morning of Jan. 14, a vehicle hit the ditch south of Parkers Prairire. The location of this mishap was at the intersection of Highway 29 and 108th Street.
• A Perham area accident, at East McDonald Drive and Highway 34, took place at 9:01 p.m. on Jan. 14. There were poor roads conditions at the time of the accident.  read entire story. . . .

Four guilty in deer poaching case

Four men pleaded guilty to a 2013 deer poaching case and had their hunting privileges revoked following an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Jacob L. Sandberg of Crystal, and Nathan C. Lindgren and Zachary W. Pike, both of McGregor, pleaded guilty to various gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor hunting charges.
Taylor N. Busse, also of McGregor, will pay joint restitution costs for the three does and one buck poached near McGregor. The four face fines and restitution totaling more than $10,000. They also had their hunting privileges revoked for three years.
Additionally, two vehicles, two rifles, and a spot light were confiscated for auction with proceeds going to the DNR’s Game and Fish Fund.  read entire story. . . .

County Human Services helps people in need

Human Services, as part of county government, serves the residents of Otter Tail County. The focus is to help fellow citizens who are most in need.
Many people in need of services often are children or the elderly, says Interim Human Services Director Deb Sjostrom.
The gross county tax levy for 2015 includes $7.6 million for human services. Other money for human services in Otter Tail County comes from state and federal grants.
Otter Tail County Human Services is working in conjunction with the Minnesota Association of County Social Services Administrators (MACSSA) in modernizing human services technology systems. This will, in turn, streamline assistance in areas such as housing and general assistance to needy individuals.  read entire story. . . .

Community Health Board wins UCare Foundation Grant

UCare’s UCare Foundation (formerly UCare Fund) awarded a $50,000 grant to the Clay-Wilkin Community Health Board.
The PartnerSHIP 4 Health programs work with food pantries and organizations accepting food donations in Becker, Clay, Otter Tail, and Wilkin counties. The program also helps assure a predominance of healthy options for low-income individuals and families through policies, practices, systems, partnerships, and environmental strategies.  read entire story. . . .

Drunk driving enforcement results in 2,537 DWI arrests

Woman arrested in driveway of Minnesota State Trooper

The view from the back seat of a squad car would not put anyone in the holiday mood, but for 2,537 motorists arrested for drunk driving in Minnesota over the past month, it was better than being involved in a serious crash. The arrests are part of an enhanced DWI enforcement campaign from Nov. 26 – Dec. 31.
The 2,537 DWI arrests compare to 2,453 during the same period in 2013, according to preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.  read entire story. . . .

Auditions for art center spring play set Jan. 24

A Center for the Arts is holding auditions for its spring play, “Out of Our Fathers’ House,” on Saturday, Jan. 24, at AC4TA’s Fergus Theatre, 124 W. Lincoln Ave., downtown Fergus Falls.
Audition times are 10 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4 p.m. Please stop by our box office or call us at 218-736-5453 to select a time slot. If you are not available on the Jan. 24, arrangements can be made to audition prior to this date.
“Out of Our Fathers’ House” in not a musical. Perusal scripts are available and can be checked out at our box office. It has between six and eight women in the cast. Performance dates are March 13, 14 and 15.
This moving play is drawn from the diaries, journals and letters of six women: a school girl, a founder of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement, an astronomer, a labor organizer, a minister, a doctor, and a woman from the Jewish ghetto. They are seen as they grow up, marry, bear children and face being ostracized for wanting careers.  read entire story. . . .

Fire deaths drop in 2014

Education will help save more lives this year

Despite four fire fatalities already this month in Minnesota, including one last week in Minneapolis, officials are encouraged by the continued downward trend in fire deaths over the past 30 years. The number of people killed in fires last year is down nearly 7 percent from 2013, according to preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD).
There were 41 fire fatalities in 2014 in Minnesota compared to 44 in 2013 and 50 in 2012. The state’s all-time low fire-death figure was 35 in 2009; the high was 134 in 1976.
“We are encouraged by the trend but these numbers are still too high,” State Fire Marshal Bruce West said. “Most fire deaths can be prevented by following some simple tips.”
Figures are preliminary because fatality reports from Minnesota burn centers and hospitals are not yet final and fire departments are still sending data to the SFMD to be compiled.
 read entire story. . . .

New wetland easement option available for area landowners

The West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District (SCWD) is seeking applicants for the 2015 Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Wetlands Conservation Easement Program.  Sign-up for the program began January 5, and will continue through January 30.
The RIM Wetlands program offers landowners competitive payment rates to restore wetlands and grasslands through permanent conservation easements. These conservation easements remain in private ownership and are not open to public hunting. Establishing native vegetation in environmentally sensitive areas reduces water pollution due to soil erosion, enhances wildlife habitat and reduces potential flood damage to property.
The program is funded through the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which was established after Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008.  read entire story. . . .

‘Best of West’  regional 4-H Quilt Retreat hosted in area

Best of the West Regional 4-H Quilt Retreat was held January 10-11 at Lake Geneva Christian Camp, led by 4-H Program Coordinators MaryAnn Anderson-Lac Qui Parle County and Jodi Hintzen-Douglas County.  
This retreat introduced the art of quilting to youth, fostered fellowship among 4-H members and introduced STEM concepts inherent in quilting along with building the sewing skills of the youth.  4-H members and adults attended from the following counties: Big Stone, Douglas, Grant, Lac Qui Parle, Pope, Stevens, and West Otter Tail.  read entire story. . . .

Farm Bill crops education seminar in Fergus Falls

Online education available for producers, landowners  
Due to high demand, University of Minnesota Extension and the Farm Service Agency will offer seven educational seminars to help crops producers choose options necessitated by the 2014 Farm Bill programs.
In addition, online instruction is available to guide both crops producers and landowners through decision-making required by the new farm bill. Visit http://farmbill.umn.edu/ for videos and printable materials.    
Registration is not required. Newly added programs, and phone contacts for more information, include Fergus Falls:
•9:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 5, Bigwood Event Center, Fergus Falls, (218) 739-2211  read entire story. . . .

Sewage sytem inspection program may change in Otter Tail County

Otter Tail County is responsible for inspections of mid-size sewage systems that use between 2,500 and 10,000 gallons of water per day.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) inspects systems that exceed 10,000 gallons per day. The Water Management District inspects systems of 2,500 or less gallons.
On Jan. 6 the county board of commissioners discussed a proposed agreement with the Water Management District which would authorize and fund these county inspections. Lengthy discussion took place regarding the proposed agreement.  read entire story. . . .

Road input sought again

Otter Tail County Engineer Rick West requested on Jan. 6, and county commissioners agreed, that additional public meetings should be held in spring 2015 to address a long-term plan for roadway maintenance in Otter Tail County.
Previous public meetings have been held in Pelican Rapids, Perham, Henning and Fergus Falls.
The Otter Tail County Highway Department has 1,052 miles of highway, all of which are bituminous. Maintaining those roads is costly.
The annual county highway department budget is approximately $12 million. Revenue sources include local, state and federal funds. Dollars are needed for not only roadways but also for county ditch work, winter snow removal and other projects.  read entire story. . . .

Multi-county health  partnership benefits realized

PartnerSHIP 4 Health is a collaboration of community and public health partners in Otter Tail, Becker, Clay and Wilkin counties. The goal is for the four counties to work cooperatively to prevent chronic disease through sustainable changes that increase physical activity, healthy eating and other heart-healthy endeavors.
Success stories were pointed out to county commissioners Jan. 6 by Otter Tail County Public Health Director Diane Thorson.
“Our mission, with the combined four counties, is to protect, maintain and improve the health of the people of Otter Tail County and the other three counties,” said Thorson. “Our vision is to achieve healthy lifestyles, healthy people, and healthy communities.”
SHIP benefits from various grants and from foundation contributions.
 read entire story. . . .

MNsure enrollment continues through Feb. 15

Minnesotans who want commercial health insurance coverage beginning January 1 have until noon Wednesday, December 31, to complete enrollment through MNsure.
“We extended the enrollment deadline to allow Minnesotans who are eligible for financial assistance ample time to get covered, and to align enrollment deadlines throughout the state,” said CEO Scott Leitz. “As time ticks down toward this deadline, we urge those consumers who still need coverage beginning January 1 to take action now.”
Minnesotans seeking assistance from the MNsure Contact Center on December 31 will experience a delay in reaching an agent. The Contact Center has received record numbers of calls during the open enrollment period, especially on deadline days. It is important to remember that if you have already enrolled and received an email confirmation from MNsure, your enrollment is complete and you do not need to call to confirm your enrollment or take any further action until you receive information from your insurance company.  read entire story. . . .

Area students learning about entrepreneurship

Learning the ins and outs of business

On weekdays, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., a group of area high school students meets at Thumper Pond in the community of Ottertail. They are part of CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities).
These students attend high schools in Perham, Henning and Battle Lake.
CEO is funded by businesses and individual investors with the West Central Initiative Fund, based in Fergus Falls, serving as the fiscal agent. No money for the program comes from the school districts. Nine adult members comprise the board of directors, three from each community.
Facilitator and student advisor is Jim Kraemer.
Perham students include Lauren Anderson, Mason Malikowski, Ryan DeConcini and Kanyon Edvall. From Henning are Brady Storo, Mason Truax and Josh Wojcik. Battle Lake students include Jess Lhotak, Ben Himmelspach and Nicolas Herrera.  read entire story. . . .

Income tax filing season to open

Minn. Department of Revenue urges swift legislative action to conform state with federal tax code

The Minnesota Department of Revenue announced that it will open state income tax filing season on January 20, 2015.  For the benefit and convenience of Minnesota taxpayers, Minnesota will open on the same day as the Internal Revenue Service.
With recent Congressional action extending several tax benefits for Minnesota teachers, college students, homeowners, and small businesses, the department is asking state lawmakers to take swift action to pass legislation conforming Minnesota’s tax codes to the updated federal provisions by January 20, 2015.  read entire story. . . .

Summit on zebra mussels, aquatic invaders Jan. 20-21

The battle to protect Minnesota's cherished lakes and rivers from aggressive aquatic invasive species (AIS) will gain a host of new allies Jan. 20-21,, when the Aquatic Invaders Summit gets under way at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.
  Minnesota agencies and local entities have for decades waged aquatic invasive species campaigns, and yet there is an established presence of the most widely known invaders--zebra mussels, spiny water fleas, eurasian watermilfoil--interfering with the natural balance in the state's waters. New species are threatening, so the time for statewide collaboration is now, said Don Hickman, vice president for community and economic development at the Initiative Foundation, host organization for the Aquatic Invaders Summit.  read entire story. . . .