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Native wasps may point way to new  emerald ash borer finds in Minn.

Wasps native to Minnesota may help researchers in the fight against emerald ash borer (EAB).
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and University of Minnesota (U of M) Extension are collaborating on the Wasp Watchers program, which uses volunteers to look for and monitor the smoky winged beetle bandits (Cerceris fumipennis).
The beetle bandits are ground nesting wasps that are docile and do not sting humans. Female wasps collect wood boring beetles, including EAB, to feed their young.
“Early detection of emerald ash borer is difficult,” said Jonathan Osthus, EAB Biocontrol Coordinator at the MDA. “By monitoring the wasps and collecting beetles they may have gathered, we can locate new EAB finds and gather more information to guide EAB management.”  read entire story. . . .

West Otter Tail Fair results

Non-livestock 4-H events included food, fashion, crafts

Prior to the West Otter Tail County Fair are two 4-H judging days. The first is Food Review and Demonstrations Day which was held Tuesday, June 30 at PioneerCare in Fergus Falls.
The second is the Clothing Fashion Revue. It was held Tuesday, July 7 at Kennedy Secondary School in Fergus Falls. The Performing Arts and Share the Fun competitions were also held throughout the evening with champions announced. Including the pre-fair activities, 325 4-H’ers exhibited 2,039 projects earning 240 Champion and Reserve Champion ribbons and 1,799 blue, red, white, and participation ribbons at the West Otter Tail County Fair which was held July 15-18 at the West Otter Tail County Fairgrounds in Fergus Falls.
Following are Champion and Reserve Champion winners in the Non-livestock competitions at the fairgrounds.

Champion: Mallory Bergem, Fergus 4-H  read entire story. . . .

Recent severe weather reminder for  Otter Tail County to register for CodeRED

Since the last week of June, Otter Tail County experienced no less than thirteen (13) severe weather warnings. Are you receiving timely notice of these potentially damaging storms?
If not, Otter Tail County Emergency Management encourages the public  to register with CodeRED, the countywide emergency notification system that alerts people to both weather warnings and community-specific emergency information.
“CodeRED is a great tool for us to have locally,” said County Emergency Manager Patrick Waletzko. “It has worked very well for our communities in recent storms, and we continue to identify ways in which we can continue to use it in the future – power outages, evacuations, chemical spills, suspicious activity, or missing children.”
All residents registered in the system automatically receive community emergency notifications. They can also select if they want to be alerted to thunderstorm, tornado, flash flood, and winter weather warnings directly from the National Weather Service. Residents also choose how they want to be contacted – by telephone, text message, email and/or mobile app.  read entire story. . . .

Know your insurance in stormy weather

Minn. Department of Commerce offers information and assistance for storm damage claims

Summer storms have arrived in Minnesota.  Once they’re gone, they often leave damaged homes and vehicles in their wake.
If you have suffered property damage from a severe storm, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman urges you to document the damage, review your homeowners and auto insurance policies, and contact your insurance agent.
“After a severe storm strikes, people often have many questions about their insurance coverage, including how to file a claim and make repairs,” said Rothman. “The Commerce Department is here to help.”
Rothman encourages Minnesotans to check out the Commerce Department’s Disaster Informati  read entire story. . . .

Otter Tail recorder’s office offers new property fraud alert system

Property fraud occurs when someone files a fraudulent document in the Recorder’s Office against your property. According to the FBI, this is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes in the United States, reported Carol Schmaltz, Otter Tail County Recorder.
The residents of Otter Tail County may now take advantage of a new, free service being offered by the Otter Tail County Recorder’s Office to help protect against property fraud.
People can sign up through the county’s website to receive Property Fraud Alerts. This is an automated database that monitors activity involving land records files in Otter Tail County. The Property Fraud Alert notifies individuals when transactions involving their property are recorded. Participants can choose whether to receive their alerts via email or by phone.  read entire story. . . .

USDA meat, poultry Hotline  celebrates 30 years of service

Many millennials will turn 30 years old this year. Rather than lament this milestone, the experts of the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline revel in the celebration. July marks the 30th anniversary of the hotline, and to commemorate, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is highlighting the Hotline’s accomplishments.
Hotline experts keep the public safe from foodborne illness when they answer calls on all sorts of food safety topics. Routinely they answer consumers’ questions about recalls and safe internal cooking temperatures. In fact, since its inception in 1985, the Hotline has handled more than 3 million calls from the public.  read entire story. . . .

West Otter Tail Soil-Water District offers update on Buffer Legislation

In June of this year, Governor Dayton signed into law a new buffer initiative aimed at enhancing protection of Minnesota’s waters.  The buffer initiative will help protect the state’s water resources from erosion and runoff pollution.
The new law generated a significant amount of interest, and landowners likely have many questions about how it will impact their property.  The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, which will oversee the process, is working to get program details underway.  The new law specifies November 2017 as the deadline for establishment of 50-foot wide buffers on public waters and November 2018 for 16.5-foot wide buffers on public drainage systems.  read entire story. . . .

County Recycling Center improves its operations

County Recycling Manager Rick Denzel and Assistant Solid Waste Director Zach Fjestad presented bids to the county board of commissioners for skid steers for the Recycling Center in Fergus Falls.
A motion by Commissioner Wayne Johnson and seconded by Commissioner Doug Huebsch was unanimously carried to approve the purchase of two Caterpillar 242D Skid Steers for the low bid of $41,480 each as recommended by Solid Waste officils.
The old skid steers will still be used by other county departments.
Other recycling news
County residents who participate in recycling help keep materials out of landfills, reduce the amount of garbage burned at the incinerator in Perham, help provide recycling jobs and help ensure a better environment.  read entire story. . . .

County board takes look at septic system regulations

County Land and Resource Management Director Bill Kalar met with the County Board of Commissioners to discuss issues with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Sanitation Code regulations (purple book).  
Kalar provided background information dealing with how septic system drain fields have been approved and certified as an acceptable operating system.  In the past, a septic drain field inspection was determined on the Ordinary High Water Level (OHWL) and the presence of three feet of soil above the restricted layer.  
“This has changed to reviewing the characterization of the surrounding soils,” said Kalar.
He pointed out that MPCA regulations indicate a failed drain field if the soil borings show red or gray in the soil.  read entire story. . . .

Increased payment rates, general signup is highlight for 30th anniversary of CRP

USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program has been keeping sensitive land out of agricultural production since 1985. This year it celebrates a milestone birthday, and coinciding with it, USDA announced increased soil rental rates and a new CRP signup.
In Otter Tail County soil rental rates increased 10% on average. This change in soil rental rates increases the payment rates for CRP to a range of $76 to $186 per acre which brings CRP payments more in line with cash rent for those same soils making CRP more competitive within Otter Tail County.
“We believe this increase in CRP payment rates brings them closer to cash rent, and feel producers will look at their less productive, frequently flooded lands, lands along Minnesota’s public waters and will consider enrolling” stated Leon Johnson, West Otter Tail FSA County Executive Director. “Our partnership team here at the USDA Service Center is ready and willing to help you understand options on your land with CRP.”  
USDA also announced that the new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up will run December 1, 2015 through February 26, 2016. Farmers and ranchers interested in removing sensitive land from agricultural production and planting grasses or trees to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and restore wildlife habitat are encouraged to enroll.  read entire story. . . .

Summer kids event to be hosted at Lake Eunice church

Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church, Detroit Lakes, invites children to “Everest VBS: ‘Conquering Challenges with God’s Mighty Power!’”
A summer kid’s event called “Everest” Vacation Bible School will be hosted at Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church from Sunday, August 2 to Thursday, August 6 beginning at 6:30 p.m. At “Everest,” kids participate in memorable Bible-learning activities, sing catchy songs, play teamwork-building games, make and dig into yummy treats, experience one-of-a-kind Bible adventures, collect Bible Memory Buddies to remind them of God’s love, and test out Sciency-Fun Gizmos they’ll take home and play with all summer long. Each day concludes with a Summit Celebration that gets everyone involved in living what they’ve learned.
Kids at Everest VBS will join an international mission effort to provide Thai-language children’s Bibles to kids in Thailand.
Everest VBS is for kids from ages 4 to 13 and will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. each evening. For more information and rides, call 218-439-3255. Lake Eunice Evangelical Free Church is located at 12986 County Highway 15 in rural Detroit Lakes.

Women’s Leadership Council promotes summer reading

School is out for the summer, and students across the county are in the full swing of summer. While lake days and water slides are lots of fun, the “summer slide” is not.  Studies have shown that kids lose two or more months of academic skills each summer, with low-income students losing even more. When school begins again, the fall is spent re-teaching math and literacy skills to get students back on track, using up time that might be spent developing new skills and pursuing new interests.
The “summer slide” doesn’t have to be so steep, however. The California Library Association says that reading just five books over the summer can prevent summer learning loss. The Women’s Leadership Council (WLC), run through United Way of Otter Tail County, holds the goal of getting books into the hands of every Otter Tail County child through a variety of programs and a community of dynamic educators and community members. Check out these three WLC-sponsored projects that can benefit any child regardless of family income:  read entire story. . . .