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Next Star Lake  Casino public  info meeting  June 9 in Dent

The Star Lake Resort and Casino will be the submject of an open house meeting Thursday, June 9, 2016, from 4-7 p.m. at the Dent Community Center.  
This session is another in a series of informational meetings aimed at gathering and distributing information about the proposal.
There is no formal presentation at this meeting. Rather, the open house format will enable anybody who would like to attend to ask questions throughout the time period of the open house.
Otter Tail County, in collaboration with the White Earth Nation, is working with SRF Consulting Group to complete a Limited Area Star Lake Comprehensive Plan.
The purpose is to better understand and plan for potential changes in transportation, utilities, land use, recreation, housing, and more. An outcome will be the identification of the concerns of Star Lake and Dead Lake Township residents and property owners relative to the White Earth Nation’s plans for a resort and casino development in Star Lake Township.

Fake $50 bills passed at  Fergus Falls area business

Two counterfeit $50 bills, used in purchases at Meadow Farm Foods near Fergus Falls, were later found to be counterfeit when examined by bank officials. This was reported on May 17.
Previously, counterfeit bills had reportedly been circulated in and near Elizabeth.
“It’s a real challenge for business owners and staff to detect counterfeit bills,” said Otter Tail County Sheriff Lt. Barry Fitzgibbons.
In some cases, security cameras may be used in tracking down those who are part of this illegal activity.

Most counties, including Otter Tail, have wheelage tax

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

In 2015 the County Board of Commissioners, after a public transportation hearing, approved a wheelage tax. This allowed for a charge of $10 added to vehicle license tab renewals, starting in calendar year 2016 in Otter Tail County.
Funds will go to specific county roadway improvements as part of a 25-year transportation plan also approved by county board members.
The wheelage tax will increase to an additional $20 per vehicle starting in calendar year 2018.
“Most counties in Minnesota are like our county and have instituted a wheelage tax of $10,” said Otter Tail County Engineer Rick West.
“This revenue goes directly to the individual counties for road and bridge construction and repair,” he added.
The additional tax will be added onto the vehicle license tabs each time the vehicle registration is renewed.
Otter Tail County is larger in size than the state of Rhode Island and paved roads total 1,062 miles.
“The backbone of the highway system in Otter Tail County requires lots of financial investment,” said County Engineer West.
He said a wheelage tax of $10 per vehicle, authorized for counties by the Minnesota State Legislature, adds close to $600,000 annually for roadway maintenance in Otter Tail County.
In addition, proceeds to Otter Tail County from a one-half cent sales tax will yield close to $4.3 million annually. This money also will be used for road repairs and maintenance.
Area counties which also have half-cent sales taxes for roadways include Becker, Douglas and Wadena counties.
West said the county sales tax applies to items already taxed as part of the state sales tax system. He said the tax does not include a tax on food, clothing or other items that are not taxable in Minnesota.
State guidelines call for the half-cent sales tax to end when revenues raised are sufficient to finance the defined roadway projects.
“County residents who attended public meetings have expressed their desire for their roadways to be maintained at the highest level,” said West.
The state of Minnesota has in place a gasoline tax but only a small percentage of those dollars are returned to Otter Tail County.
County commissioners point out that roads more heavily traveled will have priority over roads less traveled in Otter Tail County.

Drug arrest  near Red Horse Ranch

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

The manager of Red Horse Ranch Arena, northeast of Fergus Falls, contacted sheriff deputies on May 17 when he noticed suspicious activities in a parked vehicle near the ranch complex.
Later, sheriff deputies arrested 27-year-old Ashley Lynn Anderson of Fergus Falls for controlled substance and DWI. She also was found to be in violation of conditional release, according to County Sheriff Lt. Barry Fitzgibbons.  read entire story. . . .

Reminder: It is  illegal to uproot aquatic plants with hydraulic jets

Aquatic plants help keep lakes clean and support fish populations – reasons why each year the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds lakeshore property owners about a type of product that can damage lake bottoms.
These devices resemble a fan or trolling motor contained in a short tube and create strong currents of moving water. They can be used to push floating debris away from docks and shorelines but may not be used to move sediment or excavate the lake bottom or remove aquatic plants.
“People need to know that they can’t aim products that produce jets of water in such a way that they move the lake bottom,” said Steve Enger, aquatic plant management supervisor with the DNR. “In some cases, depending on water depth, it may be impossible to use these products legally. In all cases, if these products are kicking up sediment from the lake bottom the property owners could receive a citation.”
The products are not always illegal, but consumers should use caution before purchasing these devices. A quick test: If the intent is to move sediment or uproot aquatic plants, then the intended use is illegal.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen these products directed at the lake bottom, where they can uproot aquatic plants and cause clouds of sediment that can drift along the shoreline,” Enger said. “This can cloud other people’s enjoyment of the lake, and may cover fish spawning areas with a layer of sediment.”
Aquatic plants help maintain water clarity, prevent erosion, stabilize the bottom and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. While lakeshore property owners can legally remove some aquatic vegetation for access, it is illegal to use a hydraulic jet to do so. There are other options for legally removing aquatic vegetation. These may require a permit, depending on the control method, type of plant and size of the control area.
For more information about aquatic plant regulations visit www.mndnr.gov/shorelandplants.  

Dump water-holding containers: Prevention key to reducing mosquito-borne illnesses

With warmer weather right around the corner, officials with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District (MMCD) are encouraging Minnesotans to remove from their property any small water-holding containers that could fill with rainwater this spring and be used as breeding areas by mosquitoes that can carry disease.
All mosquitoes need water for their eggs. Mosquitoes that carry La Crosse encephalitis, a rare but potentially serious viral disease, commonly lay their eggs in stagnant water inside old tires, buckets, cans, tarps and anything else that can hold rainwater for several weeks. While the kinds of mosquitoes that carry Zika virus have not been found to live in Minnesota, they breed in the same kinds of small containers. Removing water-holding containers helps ensure that those mosquitoes would not get a foothold in Minnesota if they were to ever come here.
“When outdoors this spring, take time to look for water-holding containers on your property,” said Kirk Johnson, Vector Ecologist at the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District. “We still have several weeks before the mosquitoes developing in those containers become adults that can bite people. Containers are also much easier to spot now before tree leaves and growing vegetation come out.”
Containers that people wish to keep (for example, 5-gallon pails, wheelbarrows, children’s wading pools), can be turned over when not in use to prevent the collection of rainwater and any possible use as breeding sites by mosquitoes. Property owners can also look for water-holding holes or depressions in trees (often pockets form where two or more trunks meet near the ground) and fill these with soil or sand to prevent mosquito use.
La Crosse encephalitis can cause severe central nervous system problems in children. An average of between one and six cases are reported in Minnesota each year. Most cases occur in children who live near the wooded or shaded areas in southern Minnesota where the Tree Hole mosquito (the main carrier of this virus) lives.
Zika virus has been associated with severe birth defects in babies whose mothers were infected with the virus. The virus generally results in mild illness or no symptoms at all in children or adults. While 12 Minnesotans have been reported with Zika virus this year to date, all have traveled to countries in warmer regions (Caribbean, Central and South America, and Mexico) where local virus transmission is occurring. The two mosquito species known to carry this virus (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) are not currently found in Minnesota.
None of these container-breeding mosquitoes fly far from where they breed, so it is quite possible for people to keep them away from their homes and families by removing the water sources they require.
For more information on mosquito control in the metro area, visit the MMCD website.



Fire claims barn, animals

A fire near Highway 146, northeast of Perham, resulted in destruction of a barn and the loss of animals close to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3.
“A small barn, well shack and vehicle were destroyed by the fire,” said Otter Tail County Sheriff Brian Schlueter during a news media briefing on May 4. “In addition, a goat and five cats were killed in the fire. Other goats had burn injuries.”
The property owner was treated at the scene for possible smoke inhalation.
Responding to the fire were the Perham Fire Department and area fire departments. Possible cause of the fire is being investigated.

Caller reports road
rage near Dent
A call came into the sheriff’s office on May 3 with a report of road rage and a potentially dangerous situation on Highway 35 near Dent.
“A woman was attempting to make a turn when someone raced past her,” said Sheriff Brian Schlueter. “She said the other driver was driving erratically.”

Fire destroys two lake homes

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

A camp fire thought to be extinguished possibly reignited in the early morning hours May 8, at Swan Lake, south of Fergus Falls.
One cabin near the camp fire site caught fire and the blaze spread to a second cabin. Both cabins were total losses.
Fire departments from Fergus Falls, Dalton and Underwood responded to the scene at 5:04 a.m. One house was completely engulfed in flames when they arrived.
Siding on a third cabin was damaged due to extreme heat.
“All occupants of the house near the camp fire site (four adults and three children) made it out safely,” said County Sheriff Lt. Barry Fitzgibbons on Monday, May 9.
The location of the fire was West Swan View Road.

Three injured in road
accident near Dent
Three people received minor injuries in a traffic accident near Dead Lake on May 8.
A driver veered to avoid a deer, lost control and the vehicle entered a ditch. The accident took place near the intersection of Highway 35 and Brightwood Shore Drive.
The location is southwest of Dent.


A run of nice weather will raise the threat of wildfires

April had its share of rain, snow, clouds and freezing temperatures. This reduced wildfires throughout the state. But the extended weather forecast calls for clear skies and warmer temperatures that will dry out dead grass that can ignite and burn rapidly.
Still, some Minnesota swamps and woods have not yet ‘greened up.’ With an upcoming dry and sunny weather forecast on the way, wildfire risk will be higher during the next week to 10 days. High winds and low humidity are big factors in fire danger.
Learn about burning restrictions on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html
In Minnesota, 98 percent of wildfires are caused by people and most happen in spring. Of every five wildfires, one starts from a burning brush pile. Keep in mind that municipal compost sites are an alternative to dispose of leaves and brush.

Disposal of electronics plan supported by OTC

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 also had this recommendation as part of our priorities when we met 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.”

Otter Tail data tied to economic development

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

Otter Tail County has lots of data on issues such as population growth, housing needs, environmental protection and other topics.
The question for county commissioners, addressed at their May 3 meeting, is how best to use this data.
Otter Tail County is among counties all across Minnesota that look for ways to extract valuable insights from existing data. The next step is to make beneficial changes in policies and procedures for the well-being of county residents.
“To do this, it’s important that we as a county work with the various economic improvement commissions throughout the county,” said Nick Leonard, Otter Tail County’s director of economic development and tourism.
Data shows that in future years the northeast section of the county, which includes the Perham area, has the most growth potential for Otter Tail County. The southeast section, which includes the Fergus Falls area, has the second greatest growth potential.
In the past several months, job growth in Perham has been tied to KLN expansion, particularly with pet food manufacturing. Snack food and candy operations also are going strong in Perham.
At the same time, the city is addressing the needs for more housing units in the Perham area.
On the negative side for the southeastern section of the county, in the wake of the RTC closing, comes the news that in 2021 Otter Tail Power Company will close its Hoot Lake Plant east of Fergus Falls.
Otter Tail Power will, however, continue to keep its general office near downtown Fergus Falls.
“We need to better interpret the demographics,” said Leonard.
To that end, Leonard, county commissioners and county employees will work with community leaders throughout the county to discuss factors such as age, economic status, levels of education, income levels and employment opportunities.
Otter Tail County’s population as of 2015 was 58,182. Projections call for an increase to 59,315 county residents by 2020. In size, the county is larger than the state of Rhode Island.
Also addressing the county board on May 3 was Jeff Gaffaney, executive director of the county’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority. He and county board members addressed a recently completed county-wide housing study.
“Housing data is tied to the interpretation of demographics, addressed previously,” said Gaffaney.


Shooting takes place near Battle Lake bar

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

A Battle Lake man who survived a shooting early Sunday morning, May 15, near a bar in the community, was life-flighted to Fargo. As of Monday morning, the extent of his injuries were not known.
Sheriff Lt. Barry Fitzgibbons, on Monday, May 16, reported that the shooting took place at 1:37 a.m. outside the Rusty Nail bar in Battle Lake.
The shooting victim was 28-year-old Phillip Kaste of Battle Lake.
Fitzgibbons said that authorities arrested 48-year-old Michael Spilde of Battle Lake who was taken to the Otter Tail County jail in Fergus Falls where he was held on attempted murder charges.
“The suspect was arrested at his residence, without incidence,” said Fitzgibbons.
Responding to the scene were sheriff deputies and members of the Battle Lake Police Department.
The investigation was continuing, as of Monday morning. No information was available as to what may have caused a possible altercation.


I-94 bridge work near Fergus Falls underway

Motorists on Interstate 94 northwest of Fergus Falls will experience traffic shifts and lane closures beginning Monday, May 2, weather permitting.
Crews will reconstruct the bridge decks on I-94 over Otter Tail County Road 88.
For the first half of the project, all traffic on I-94 will shift to the westbound lanes while crews reconstruct the eastbound bridge. Traffic will be restricted to a single lane in each direction.
Crews will reconstruct the westbound bridge deck later in the summer.
Flaggers will control traffic on Otter Tail County Road 88, when necessary.
Work is expected to last through late October.
Speed limits on I-94 will be reduced to 60 mph through the work zone. Motorists are reminded that violators will be fined a minimum of $300.
This project re-uses the existing beams and bridge substructure. The new bridge decks will extend the life of the bridges and result in a smoother road surface. This project helps ensure MnDOT’s transportation system will continue to serve the state for many years.
For Minnesota statewide travel information, visit www.511mn.org, call 5-1-1 or log on to www.mndot.gov.

Cameras at public boat landings

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

In efforts to stop the spread of invasive species at area lakes, the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners is continuing its support of cameras at public boat accesses within the county.
“In place is a master agreement between Otter Tail County and Environmental Sentry Protection, LLC,” said County Land and Resource Director Bill Kalar. “Environmental Sentry Protection will provide the I-LIDS systems and the cameras at our public accesses.”
This is part of AIS prevention expenditures recommended by the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Task Force at its meeting on April 11. The county board agreed with the AIS Task Force.
“Boat tracking and camera use go hand in hand,” said Kalar.
Active with the AIS panel is Bernie Steeves of the Otter Tail Lake Property Owners Association who attended the county board meeting when the boat access cameras were approved.
In 2013 the newly formed Otter Tail County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Task Force received financial backing from the county board and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).


Lutzwick named probation director

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

Desta Lutzwick is the new probation director for Otter Tail County, taking over for new retiree Chuck Kitzman.
Otter Tail County Probation provides probation and parole services to all juvenile offenders and adult misdemeanor/gross misdemeanor offenders in Otter Tail County as directed by the district court judges.
The department currently operates two offices in Fergus Falls and New York Mills, with 14 employees.
Lutzwick has worked in the county probation office since 1981. Kitzman  joined county probation in 1984 and served as probation director since 1991.
Lutzwick, whose first month as director will be May 2016, has participated with many probation department programs over the years.
An example was in 2012 when Lutzwick worked with public schools in Battle Lake, Henning, Underwood, New York Mills, Parkers Prairie and Fergus Falls in coordination with Youth Health Day.
She and other adult leaders focused on giving ninth grade students in Otter Tail County the necessary tools to make good choices in their teen years.
County Probation worked in conjunction with Community Education, University of Minnesota Extension and AmeriCorps.
“The real-life experiences discussed in a number of seminars are sometimes able to reach kids more directly than a classroom lecture,” said Lutzwick.
Otter Tail County’s Probation Department assists offenders in identifying ways they can develop further competency through education, counseling, employment and other programs that are available in the communities.
On any given day the department deals with between 350 and 400 people who are on probation, the result of various offenses.
Repeat offenders can turn their lives around, for the better, by participating in programs offered through the DWI Court system in Otter Tail County. Included are effective treatment and support services with the goal to return sober, productive and law-abiding citizens to the community.

Cormorant Show Team, ‘Talk of Town’ schedule  kicks off May 19-20

The Village of Cormorant has unveiled its summer schedule of programs, speakers and concerts.
The events, at the Cormorant Township Hall and Community Center, will launch on May 19.
The Cormorant Show Team will present country and gospel singer-songwriter Red Johnson on Thursday, May 19, beginning at 7 p.m.
On May 20, Cormorant’s popular guest speaker series launches with a program on the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead.
The Friday morning speaker will be Maureen Kelly Jonason with “What’s new at the Hjemkomst Center.”
All “Talk of the Town” events are held in the Cormorant Community Center Friday’s from 9 to 10 a.m.  and are free and open to the public.

Cormorant Show Team programs
June 30 Monroe Crossing
Thursday, 7-9 p.m.
Dazzling audiences with an electrifying blend of
classic bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, and heartfelt
originals.
July 28 13th Annual Hidden Talent Show
Thursday, 7 p.m.
Presenting unique, musical, humorous and much
more talent from around the area.
Aug 26 8th Annual Lobster Dinner
Friday, starting at 6 p.m.
Fresh Maine lobster dinner with local corn on the cob,
clam chowder and more.
Cormorant ‘Talk of the Town’ schedule
June 10 Cormorant “Antique Roadshow”
Friday-Featuring Linda Kiehl from SuLaine’s Antique Mall and
“The Cat’s Pajamas Antiques” in New York Mills.
Bring one or two of your favorite collectibles or antique
items to be evaluated.
June 24 Daryl Ritcheson, Climatologist
Friday-From the NDSU Climate Center. Enjoy learning about
current weather and weather in the 1930s.
July 15 Ella Marie’s Café & Collectibles
Friday-Claudia Hanson - “No Regular Cup o’ Joe”
Learn how to make sitting down to a cup of coffee an
experience rather than just a break.
Aug 12 Verlyn Anderson
Friday-Retired college professor and authority on
Scandinavian immigration in America and in our area.

Illegal burning pollutes statewide

Illegal garbage burning—in open fires and burn barrels—is a persistent source of pollution in Minnesota, according to a feature story in the May–June Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine.
Burning garbage can release toxins into the surrounding air, soil and water, Henry Fisher of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) told the magazine. These toxins often include dioxin, a long-lasting carcinogen that can enter fish, wildlife, farm animals and ultimately humans as it works its way up the food chain. “The open burning of household waste … contributes to 50 percent of the known dioxins generated in the state,” Fisher said.
Small-scale backyard burning of household trash has a big cumulative impact, according to the story, “A Burning Problem” by managing editor Keith Goetzman. The modern waste stream contains chemicals, paints, coatings, foils and other compounds that make trash more toxic than it used to be, especially when burned. More than 33 percent of rural Minnesota residents said they burn trash in a 2010 MPCA survey.
Garbage fires also start many wildfires every year. Spring is fire season, and spring-cleaning may lead people to throw away and burn unwanted things. In the story, a DNR conservation officer and an MPCA inspector name some of the things they’ve found in illegal fires: plastics, rubber, furniture, mattresses, appliances, even a horse carcass.
Burning garbage has been illegal in Minnesota since the 1980s. Burn barrels built to legal specifications can be used to burn yard waste but never garbage. Minnesotans who suspect a potential burning violation can report it by calling the MPCA at 800-657-3864 or the TIP hotline at 800-652-9093.
Minnesota Conservation Volunteer is a reader-supported source of outdoor information and ideas. To subscribe to the print magazine, read it online, and peruse the online archive, go to www.mndnr.gov/mcvmagazine.

Otter Tail bd. holds meetings with city officials

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

On Tuesday, May 10, the county board of commissioners held a noon hour meeting with city officials from Fergus Falls. The meeting was held at the county Government Services Center in Fergus Falls.
“In future months we look forward to meeting with city officials representing communities such as Pelican Rapids, Perham, New York Mills, Henning, Battle Lake and Parkers Prairie,” said County Board Chairman Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls.
Topics on May 10 included roadway projects, recreational trail connections, recycling services, economic development, tourism opportunities, landfill permitting and plans for the new casino near Star Lake.
Rogness and County Engineer Rick West reminded Fergus Falls officials about Otter Tail County’s long-range transportation plan.  read entire story. . . .

DNR question: How to help DNR compile list of water springs in state

Q: I heard the DNR is gathering a list of springs across the state. How will I know a spring when I see one, and how can I report the location?
A: A spring is a focused natural discharge of flowing groundwater. Some telltale clues are: they usually remain unfrozen in winter, they can seem unusually cold in summer, and they are often associated with plants such as watercress and willows. Some springs appear to “boil” the surface of lakes and streams.
Historically, springs were important sources of drinking water. They also provide critical habitat for trout streams by regulating water temperature and providing base flows to streams throughout the year. An inventory of Minnesota’s springs is being prepared by combing through old records, and more will be added by searching likely areas of the state. To learn more about springs, or to share the location of a spring near you, visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/waters/groundwater_section/pilot/springshed.html
Greg Brick, DNR research analysis specialist


Deer fawns are being born; leave them alone, urges DNR

Deer fawns are being born now and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources asks that people avoid disturbing or picking them up.  
“Most fawns are born in late May and mid-June. Leaving them alone gives them the best chance for survival, even if they appear abandoned or fragile,” said Adam Murkowski, DNR big game program leader.
Fawns do not attempt to evade predators during their first few weeks of life. Instead, fawns remain still to avoid being seen, their white spots serving as camouflage. During these times fawns are learning critical survival skills from their mothers. Bringing fawns into human environments separates them from their mothers – and usually results in sad endings for the animals.  read entire story. . . .

Gallery seeking local artists for community supported art

The Kaddatz Galleries and Springboard for the Arts are seeking artists to participate in a C.S.A., or Community Supported Art.
Inspired by the marketing efforts of small farms, this C.S.A. will deliver not locally grown kale and carrots, but locally created works of art to customers.
“We are seeking artists of all disciplines to launch our inaugural Community Supported Art program,” said Kaddatz curator Gretchen Boyum. “Artists will be selected from a jury of local food and art luminaries to receive a stipend of $600, great connections to local collectors and promotional support.”
Starting this summer, Community Supported Art shares will be available for purchase by the general public, and CSA “Pick Up” events will take place in various locations around Fergus Falls.
The project is a partnership between the Kaddatz Gallery and Springboard for the Arts’ Lake Region office. Springboard for the Arts and mnartists.org launched the first Community Supported Art program in St. Paul in 2010. It has since been replicated in more than 30 cities in North America.
Submissions are open to artists in the following counties: Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse and Wilkin. Artists must submit resumes, work samples and an artist's statement via email to gretchen@kaddatzgalleries.org by May 5. All work must be completed by August 5. For more information, call 218-998-4405 or visit kaddatzgalleries.org/get-involved/community-supported-art/.
The Kaddatz Galleries' mission is to foster visual arts education and appreciation, and to maintain a gallery that celebrates the work of area artists and honors the legacy of Charles Beck.
Springboard for the Arts cultivates vibrant communities by connecting artists with the resources they need to make a living and a life. Springboard for the Arts is based in St. Paul and Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Learn more at www.springboardforthearts.org.

DNR: What is Arbor Month?

Q: What is Arbor Month?
A: While National Arbor Day is held on the last Friday in April, Minnesota is one of only a few states to also celebrate Arbor Month. May is Arbor Month in Minnesota, which gives us 31 days to celebrate trees, and it allows people in the northern part of our state to hold tree planting events once the ground has thawed.
This year’s Arbor Month theme, “Get your daily dose of trees for a healthy you and me,” celebrates the health benefits of trees. Urban neighborhoods with more trees have lower childhood asthma rates because trees absorb and trap air pollutants and particles. Trees also have a natural calming effect, which helps relax and restore the mind. If you are feeling crabby or stressed out, a walk in the woods might be all the medicine you need. In other words, plant a tree this Arbor Month because it’s good for your health. Visit www.mndnr.gov/arbormonth and watch our new video on how trees keep us healthy.

Jennifer Teegarden, DNR forestry outreach specialist

Pontoon stolen at area lake

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

Sheriff deputies reported the theft of a pontoon at Little Pine Lake, north of Perham. The call came in at 11:04 a.m. on May 11.
The owner said the pontoon has a blue crank wheel, brown carpet and was securely tied to posts. The theft took place sometime in the days preceding May 11.

Male with gun taken
into custody near rest stop
A male with mental health issues and who was armed with a firearm called authorities and asked for help from the Interstate 94 Hansel Lake rest stop near Dalton. The call came in close to noon on May 11.
The man was taken by law enforcement personnel to Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls where he received an evaluation. Assisting sheriff deputies were members of the Minnesota State Highway Patrol.

Burglaries reported
A theft took place along Highway 59 near Elizabeth and was reported on May 10.
Taken were two television sets, two blu-rays (disc data storage units), a printer and tattoo machine. One of the televisions was later found in a pawn shop.
Nine fishing rods were taken from a shed in central Otter Tail County, on the northeast side of Franklin Lake. The incident was reported on May 12.
Sheriff deputies said two of the fishing rods had names inscribed. Total value of the items taken was between $700 and $900.

Gas drive-off at
Dunvilla general store
A gas drive-off at Lakeland True Value in Dunvilla, north of Pelican Rapids, resulted in a loss of $28.69 to the business.  A license plate ID was not available for authorities.

Removing lake plants could require permit

Lakeshore property owners are reminded that a permit may be required to remove lake plants. Aquatic plant regulations are summarized at www.mndnr.gov/shorelandplants.
“Aquatic plants are essential to healthy lake ecosystems, a fact that bears repeating each year as people turn attention to outdoor recreation and their shorelines,” said Steve Enger, supervisor of the aquatic plant management program for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We remind property owners to check the regulations to see if they need a permit.”
Specific regulations govern what situations require permits for aquatic plant removal.
“We want to work with property owners to answer their questions about what plant removal is allowed and what requires a permit,” Enger said. “We love our lakes in Minnesota, and a healthy aquatic plant community is critical to maintaining the high quality lakes that Minnesotans enjoy.”
Aquatic plants provide food and shelter for fish, ducks and other wildlife. They stabilize the lake bottom, which helps maintain water clarity. These plants also protect shorelines from erosion by absorbing energy from waves and ice.
A guide to aquatic plants and information on aquatic plant regulations is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/shorelandplants, or by calling 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

DNR question: Which fish species spawn first?

Q: Which fish species are the first to spawn in Minnesota lakes during the spring?
A: Northern pike usually spawn first when water temperatures are in the low 40s. There is often still ice on the main lakes when pike run into tributary streams, rivers or wetlands to spawn. Walleye spawn a bit later, followed by yellow perch, muskellunge, bass and crappie/bluegill.

Henry Drewes, DNR regional fisheries manager

Franklin Lake burglaries solved

By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent

A 16-year-old male is being charged with close to 15 burglaries in the past several months on the east side of Franklin Lake, northeast of Pelican Rapids.
“Detectives have also linked this same juvenile to other burglaries in the Lida Shores Loop area on the north side of Lake Lida, also near Pelican Rapids,” said County Sheriff Brian Schlueter.
The Sheriff’s Office reminds county residents to always lock doors and windows on property and to be sure to lock vehicles.
Other thefts reported
Copper wire was stolen from a gravel pit May 5 near Elmo Road, north of Parkers Prairie. The wire was valued at approximately $1,600.
The wire was stretched approximately 200 feet and was reported to be new 4.4 copper wire.
Fireworks valued at close to $50 were stolen from a building northwest of Perham, on 505th Street. There was forced entry to the structure.
Sheriff deputies said a gazebo-type building also was entered but nothing was stolen.