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Sharing workload with adjoining counties is philosophy of new board

It's a new year with new officers for the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners.

The new chairman is Doug Huebsch of Perham and the new vice chairman is Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids.

Other members of the five-person county board are outgoing chairman Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls, Roger Froemming of Parkers Prairie and John Lindquist of Dalton.

The county board, as it moves forward, pledged at its Jan. 8 meeting to continue its philosophy of combining functions within departments, pursuing joint efforts with neighboring counties and working in conjunction with county employees to adhere to smaller government and more efficiency.

At the meeting, Community Services Director John Dinsmore said his department is developing a caseworkers management system in conjunction with Clay and Becker counties. Also working in conjunction with nearby counties (Becker and Wilkin), is Otter Tail Public Health, headed by Director Diane Thorson.

"Department heads, the county board and employees realize that change is needed," said County Coordinator Larry Krohn. "Otter Tail County is not alone in this endeavor. We're seeing lots of changes among Minnesota's 87 counties."

Otter Tail County Solid Waste Director Mike Hanan also heads similar operations in Wadena and Todd counties, with all three counties sharing in Hanan's salary.

The Perham Resource Recovery Facility (refuse burner) is operated by the Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority through a joint powers agreement between Becker, Otter Tail, Todd and Wadena counties. The authority is proposing to add an additional waste heat boiler, additional air pollution control equipment and a material-recovery facility.

The expansion would increase the municipal solid waste processing capacity of the facility from 116 to 200 tons per day.

The facility generates steam that is used by businesses located nearby.

"Collaboration is the key word as we strive to share workload with adjoining counties, on similar projects," said Huebsch.