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Lake Region welcomes Dr. Mark Vukonich, as Family Medicine Physician

Underwood grad returns home to practice

Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) is pleased to welcome Dr. Mark Vukonich, a Family Medicine Physician in our Primary Care department to our medical staff.
Dr. Vukonich received his Doctor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He completed his Residency at the Sioux Falls Family Medicine Residency program where he served as Chief Resident.
His professional interests include family medicine, emergency medicine and pediatrics. Personal interests include hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, wood carving, music and spending time with family.  read entire story. . . .

COLA honors Neitzke with Volunteer of Year award

The Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) has honored Roger Neitzke, chairperson of the Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul Lakes Improvement District, as Volunteer of the Year for 2014.
The award was presented Thursday evening, Aug. 21, during COLA’s gathering at the community room in Otter Tail.
“Roger believes that volunteering makes a difference,” said COLA’s Jerry Horgen who heads the volunteer recognition program and who also is education committee chairman for the organization.
“Whether it be the lake association, lake improvement district or the county’s Invasive Species Task Force, Roger is committed to protecting and preserving lakes,” said Horgen. “He believes that his contributions will make a difference.”
Those comments were echoed by COLA President Dave Sethre, county commissioners Doug Huebsch and Wayne Johnson and State Rep. Bud Nornes. All were in attendance for the awards ceremony.
There are many high-water problems that face Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul lakes and Neitzke has been part of working to solve those problems.  read entire story. . . .

Dial-A-Ride offers safe transportation– ride for both rider and motorcycle

Providing a safe and free ride service to motorcyclists in Otter Tail County is a key component of Dial-A-Ride. Volunteers, when asked, will transport up to two passengers and a trailer to be used to transport an impaired cyclist’s motorcycle.
A motorcyclist in or near Pelican Rapids, Perham, New York Mills, Henning, Battle Lake, Parkers Prairie or other parts of Otter Tail County who feels he or she has had too much to drink can call the Dial-A-Ride toll-free number (1-888-342-5743).
A volunteer will pick up a trailer in Fergus Falls and head out to assist the cyclist and passenger with a safe ride home. They also will transport the cycle in a special trailer.
Motorcycle Dial-A-Ride is a statewide program. Its mission is to educate motorcyclists about the consequences of riding and drinking and to encourage the use of intervention methods to prevent impaired riders from riding.  read entire story. . . .

Construction equipment through the decades   will be in the spotlight in Rollag for annual reunion

The 61st annual Western Minnesota Steam Thresher Reunion is set for Aug. 29, through Sept. 1.
The annual event is held every Labor Day weekend just outside of the tiny town of Rollag, north of Pelican Rapids.
The Rollag event draws thousands of spectators and volunteers during the four-day run.  
Visitors looking for a weekend back in time will get exactly that as the feeling of yesteryears is created through hundreds of displays, exhibits, demonstrations and activities.
Every year the Steam Threshers Reunion features new events, and this year the showcase will center around steam shovels and construction equipment. For 2014, the  construction area will be in the spotlight. It will be home to possibly the largest collection of steam operated shovels in one location, and a number of other steam and gas powered construction equipment.  read entire story. . . .

Lobster feed  has become  Cormorant tradition

Minnesota walleye it isn’t, but it’s the next best food from the waters.  Each August for the past seven years, Cormorant serves up a saltwater delicacy from the east coast: Maine lobster.  
Pictured at the boiling “lobster pots” at the Cormorant Village Hall and community center August 22 are Milan Christianson and Bob and Libby Larson, above right. The annual lobster feed is a collaborative event between the Cormorant Show Team and Cormorant Township. Ticket sales are limited to 96, and the lobster are air-freighted into Fargo–live and ready for the pots. The Larsons, who have traveled in Maine,  have worked the pots all seven years.  They learned the culinary craft by trial under fire, when the scheduled chef was unable to make it the first year–and the Larsons were thrust into action.

Plea agreements come after DWI, drug charges

Three residents of Otter Tail County, charged with DWI or drug charges, reached plea agreements prior to official sentencing scheduled for Friday, Aug. 22.
Scheduled for court appearances were Antonio Delan-Johnny Parker, 31, of Fergus Falls; Dustin Maurice Schwartz, 34, of Underwood; and Joydell Ann Theisen, 22, of Henning.
Parker was charged with fifth degree drug charges in November 2013. In the plea agreement, the defendant agreed to, according to Court Administration, “presumptive guideline sentencing based upon the defendant’s criminal history.”
He will likely serve 30 days in the county jail, pay fines and surcharges as determined by the court, take part in a chemical use assessment and be placed on probation for five years.
Schwartz was charged in January 2014 with traffic DWI, neglect of a child and restricted driver’s license alcohol violation.
He will be sentenced to 180 days in the county jail. However, under the DWI Court program, Schwartz’s sentence will likely be staggered.
Theisen faced fourth degree drug charges after her arrest in May 2013.
Under the plea agreement, she will complete a chemical assessment, pay fines and fees determined by the court and provide DNA as determined by law. Jail time, if any, was scheduled  to be debated by the prosecutors and defense attorneys on Aug. 22.  read entire story. . . .

Otter Tail County part of regional health partnership

Partner SHIP4 Health is a health improvement program in the counties of Otter Tail, Becker, Clay and Wilkin. SHIP is a statewide program developed by the Minnesota State Legislature in 2008.
Goals of SHIP are to improve health and contain health care costs. Two programs include reducing the percentage of Minnesotans who use or are exposed to tobacco and reducing the percentage of Minnesotans who
are obese or overweight.
“Through this program, in all four counties here in west central Minnesota, we’re encouraging better nutrition and increased physical activity,” said Otter Tail County Health Director Diane Thorson.
Thorson told the county board of commissioners that a meeting of the Partnership4Health Joint Powers Board was held Aug 1 this year.  read entire story. . . .

Arts Council names board members from multiple counties, including Otter Tail

The Lake Region Arts Council welcomes Erin Gunderson, (Wilkin County), Gregory DeGier and Susan Scarborough, (Douglas County), Jamie V. Beyer (Traverse County), James Arvidson (Otter Tail County), and Beth Salvatore, (Clay County) to its Board of Directors:
James A. Arvidson, Parkers Prairie
James Arvidson attended U of MN, Crookston and obtained an Associate of Agriculture degree. In 2007, he completed the Regional Leadership Institute. His community leadership roles have earned him with medals and awards internationally as well as national and local recognition.  James held many executive positions through community service organizations, including the Lions, Jaycees, Lutheran Brotherhood, Church Council, and Lakeland Hospice. He has a lifetime of service in the region with the goal of making a difference in the lives of those who choose to live in West Central Minnesota.  He believes all art forms benefit our culture. He looks forward to the important work that lies ahead with LRAC.  read entire story. . . .

‘Food Hub’ for local growers will service schools, child care facilities under Bush Foundation grant

Lakes Country Service Cooperative (LCSC) has been awarded a Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant to start a food hub in its nine-county service region.
The Fresh Connect food hub will assemble fresh produce and fruit from multiple local growers and deliver it directly to schools, healthcare, and childcare centers that provide meals for students, residents, and visitors. Food hubs are emerging around the country as an answer to the need for support to bring fresh locally grown produce from the family farm to schools and other organizations interested in providing healthier meals.
According to LCSC Dietician Dana Rieth, “Local growers will diversify their market for sales, and students and residents will benefit from eating healthy foods. Schools and healthcare will be able to say they know where their produce is coming from and teach about the lifelong benefits of healthy eating.”
“We are pleased to move forward with a pilot program that we hope will become a model for other communities. This is truly an innovative project that has grown out of a year of planning. Thanks to our many community partners who have helped us realize this vision,” says Jeremy Kovash, LCSC Executive Director.

Trail issue likely on Otter Tail County bd. agenda for Sept. 9

September 9 is a red-letter date for the Otter Tail County Board; when the proposed Pelican Rapids to Maplewood State Park to Perham recreational trail is slated as an agenda item.
The board will likely be considering adopting the trail plan at the Sept. 9 session, according to Patrick Hollister, PartnerShip 4 Health, who serves on the trail task force committee.
Issues connected to the trail have moved to the forefront throughout Otter Tail County, as an opposition group has mobilized.  Among other issues, the group contends the trail will be too costly to justify relative to the potential  economic gain.
The trail has become a campaign issue in West Otter Tail, because incumbent commissioner Johnson has been consistently supportive of the trail.  His opponent in the upcoming November election, Everett Erickson, has gone on record as opposed to the county’s involvement in the trail project. He has questioned the cost, the economic benefit and the impact on the terrain and  private property owners.              
Some trail supporters are increasingly focusing on not only an economic factors and the tourism-related potential, but on health and safety.  read entire story. . . .