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Otter Tail, other counties review Ebola preparedness

Even though health officials say the Ebola risk in Minnesota is extremely low, governmental officials in Otter Tail County and in the other 86 counties throughout the state are prepared to deal with any Ebola emergency.
“Emergency measures would immediately take hold, here in Otter Tail County and in other areas throughout the state,” said County Public Health Director Diane Thorson to county commissioners on Tuesday, Oct. 7. “Here and elsewhere in Minnesota the public health system would be ready to deploy quarantines and other safety measures to halt the spread of the virus.”
Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said Thursday, Oct. 9, that the Ebola case in Dallas put every hospital and public health agency on guard.
State health officials, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, are confident they could contain any Ebola outbreak in Minnesota.
Unlike seasonal influenza viruses, the current Ebola virus cannot spread through the air. Instead, Ebola is transmitted by physical contact with saliva, blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person.
Fever and other prominent symptoms typically appear before an Ebola patient becomes contagious.
“This gives hospitals and clinics the opportunity to isolate Ebola patients,” said Thorson.
Thorson reviews health information exchange
On another health-related topic on Oct.7, County Public Health Director Diane Thorson informed the five members of the county board about a $483,565 grant.  read entire story. . . .

Assistance available to  address erosion issues

The area experienced a very wet spring and early summer this year; and some Otter Tail County farmers experienced rainfall events that they had not seen before in their life.
Due to the time of the year that these rainfall events occurred, some areas of the county experienced greater than normal soil erosion throughout their fields.  
The West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District is offering assistance to anyone that is willing to work towards controlling future erosion problems.  
The West Otter Tail SWCD can offer technical expertise on what programs and practices could benefit each specific site, along with financial assistance to install and maintain erosion control practices.
As crops are harvested this fall, the SWCD encourages farmers  to document areas of concern and contact our office so the agency can assist in controlling erosion on your farm.  
The West Otter Tail SWCD can be contacted  at (218)-739-4694 ext. 4 or you can stop at our office at 506 Western Ave. N in Fergus Falls.    

Two  sentenced in district court cases

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

A Fergus Falls man and Fargo man were sentenced Friday, Oct. 10, in district court, Fergus Falls.
Jeffrey Allen Wilson, 28, of Fergus Falls, was sentenced following a conviction of assault in the fifth degree. He was sentenced to 90 jays in the county jail, with over half of those days waived for time already served. The judge also ordered Wilson to be on unsupervised probation for one year.
Myrone Berry Bell, 20, of Fargo, was sentenced following a conviction of burglary in the first degree and assault with a dangerous weapon. This relates to an incident in Fergus Falls on July 9, 2013.
Bell was sentenced to four years in the correctional facility in St. Cloud. His sentence could be reduced for good behavior during his incarceration. He will pay court fees of $698 and also will pay restitution to the victim.

Reception, new exhibit set at Lake Region art gallery

The public is invited to attend a free Artist Reception at Lake Region Arts Council, 133 S. Mill Street, Fergus Falls on October 21, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Michael Weatherly's 2013 and 2014 works are featured in the LRAC Solo Gallery through November 25.
Weatherly's exhibited work features a printing process of mono-printing and currently incorporates this printmaking technique with manipulated digital images. His art is characterized by vibrant colors, material elements and stark black lines. His work has been featured in a recent "Altered Esthetics" show in Minneapolis, The Giles Gallery, Richmond Kentucky, and Minneapolis Institute for the Arts, Minneapolis, and other renowned galleries in Minnesota.
The reception will also feature a collection of pieces on loan from The Rourke Gallery, Moorhead, Minnesota.
For more information about upcoming exhibits, call the LRAC office (toll free in MN) at 1-800-262-2787 or 218-739-5780.

Departure of Straw bring change in leadership at West Central Initiative

West Central Initiative (WCI) Board Chair David Nelson announced that Nancy Straw has resigned her position as WCI president/CEO to accept a position in Oregon with The Ford Family Foundation to work in the areas of community and economic development. Vice President of Operations Sandra King has been named interim CEO.
“Because of Nancy’s great leadership skills, and with a succession plan already in place, West Central Initiative will be able to move forward in the search process in a confident and transparent manner,” said Nelson. “In the meantime, we have full confidence in Sandy King to keep things running very smoothly throughout the transition.”
“One of my goals has been to ensure that WCI would continue to grow and prosper long after my departure. While it was a difficult decision to make, the timing is right. There are strong leadership teams in place on both the board and the staff,” Straw said.  read entire story. . . .

Erhard-Elizabeth culvert work a joint state-OT County effort

Much-needed culvert replacement took place the week of Oct. 6 between Elizabeth and Erhard in western Otter Tail County. The work included four borings and installation of four new concrete culverts along Highway 59.
Coordinating the work were officials of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).
Highway 59 is known as a CSAH roadway, an acronym used often during meetings of the County Board of Commissioners. The acronym refers to County State Aid Highway.
Close to 90 percent of the highways in Otter Tail County are CSAH. For that reason, culvert replacement funding comes from the state of Minnesota, through MnDOT.
Two of the culverts underneath Highway 59 are 36-inch diameter culverts and two are 24-inch diameter culverts.  read entire story. . . .

Unprecedented elk demand  targets Minnesota breeders

Association debuts new website to attract producers
The Minnesota Elk Breeders Association (MNEBA) represents the elk farming industry by creating awareness about elk production, promotion and consumption. The association is excited to announce a new web site, http://mneba.org/ sponsored in part by Minnesota Grown. The 2012 Census on Agriculture shows Minnesota stands atop the nation in farmed elk production and is home to 141 elk farms raising more than 4,200 elk.
One of the most interesting aspects of the new site showcases the fact that elk produce a new set of antlers annually and velvet antler is a global commodity. The wholesale price for velvet antler has nearly doubled in the past five years, from $20 per pound in 2010, to $38 per pound in 2014. MNEBA President Mark Lucas said harvesting velvet antler helps to increase the bottom line, “At these prices, bulls can pay for their own overhead expense by their yearly velvet production. Velvet antler is an annual, renewable resource and bulls increase from 3-5 pounds in size every year.”  read entire story. . . .

Whiskey Creek pilot project certifies area farm in ag water quality program

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program added a certified farm from the Whiskey Creek pilot area administered by the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD).
The Whiskey Creek watershed, under coordination of the BRRWD was selected as a pilot for this program, working in partnership with the West Ottertail County SWCD, the Wilkin County SWCD, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Matthew Wohlman presented Rick Drevlow with his certification sign and contract. Wohlman said, “This program demonstrates that in Minnesota we can have a strong ag economy while protecting our water resources. Rick’s certified farm shows his leadership in conservation, and I am pleased to give him the recognition he deserves.”  read entire story. . . .

Humane Society of Otter Tail launches ‘PAWS for Our Cause’ renovation project

The Humane Society of Otter Tail County, in Fergus Falls, is announcing the start of a facility renovation project PAWS for Our Cause to target essential repairs to aging kennels, floor drains and the air exchange system. Completion is on schedule for the end of November.
Annually more than 1,100 dogs, cats and other animals enter the HSOTC shelter where they receive 365 days a year care, medical assessment, treatment, comfort and a fresh start. HSOTC reunites owners with lost pets, places companion animals in new forever homes, and works with law enforcement and the county’s 62 townships. Sheltering so many animals has taken a toll on the dog and cat adoption rooms.  read entire story. . . .

Balmoral golf course vandalized

The Sheriff’s Department, on Wednesday, Sept. 24, reported that vandalism took place at the Balmoral Golf Course on the southeast side of Otter Tail Lake. The incident was reported to the sheriff’s office the previous day.
“Several hole marker poles were taken or misplaced, benches were knocked over and damaged and garbage cans were destroyed,” said County Sheriff Brian Schlueter. “There also was reportedly a similar incident at a nearby golf course.”
Schlueter said there were no suspects in the Balmoral case. Financial damage, however, was minimal, between $200 and $300.  read entire story. . . .

Commissioners weigh in on courthouse remodeling

On Sept. 30 county commissioners toured the jail section of the County Courthouse complex, currently under renovation on the south side of Fergus Falls.
Major work, as part of Phase One, included first floor work for sheriff’s offices, including dispatch and jail administration. The remodeling also called for south side second floor renovations for court administration and the addition of a new courtroom.
Phase Two of county courthouse remodeling, on the north side, has focused on courthouse renovations including exterior improvements and significant remodeling of the second and third floors.  read entire story. . . .

Freeport artist wins 2015 duck stamp contest

Freeport artist Scot Storm has won the 2015 Minnesota Migratory Waterfowl Stamp contest with his painting of a Harlequin duck.
The painting will be featured on the 2015 Minnesota Migratory Waterfowl Stamp and was chosen from among 23 entries in the stamp contest sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Storm previously won the contest in 2004 with his depiction of a common merganser, and 2009 when the stamp featured the common goldeneye.  read entire story. . . .

Dr. Nicole Welle joins Psychiatry Department  at Lake Region

Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) has welcomed Dr. Nicole Welle to their medical staff in the Psychiatry department.
Dr. Welle received her Doctor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth and completed her undergraduate degree in Nutritional Science at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She is also a graduate of Fergus Falls High School and the Minnesota State Community & Technical College in Fergus Falls.
Welle served as a research assistant at the U of M in a study of Soy Consumption and Prevention of Prostate Cancer.  She also completed a summer internship in Medicine at Lake Region Healthcare in 2007.  read entire story. . . .