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Editorial: Applause / A Pause

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APPLAUSE to Merle Meece and others in public works for resolving the odor issue at Perham's wastewater treatment ponds.

After weeks of dumping in chemicals and trying every other technique known to experts, the city ramped up its efforts in mid-June to try and get the problem under control before the height of tourism season. (Imagine how unpleasant the Turtle Races, fair and other outdoor community events would have been with that smell in the air.)

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Evidently, it worked. We at the Focus drive past the ponds multiple times a day, and haven't caught a whiff for weeks.

When last contacted, Meece said larger doses of chemical treatments did, in fact, seem to be getting the job done.

It would have been nice to see it happen sooner (maybe before the smell was the subject of complaints to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), but we'll take it. Better late than never.

A PAUSE to an apparent decline in sportsmanship at summer baseball games around the area.

The problem was first written about in the Focus in mid-July, but area sports writers say it's been going on longer than that. Not only are fans yelling expletives at players from the stands, but, worse, the players themselves are acting out.

Our own sports editor witnessed some bad behavior from amateur league baseball players, and then again at the Highway 10 Save A Life Initiative VFW tournament.

The latest example happened just this past weekend, with New York Mills' forfeit of the championship Minnesota Division II, District 9 American Legion game after another run-in for the team and coaching staff.

APPLAUSE to all the active volunteers, participants and financial supporters of the numerous summer events that took place in the area in July.

From the Relay for Life to the East Otter Tail County Fair, from Dent Daze to the Classic Car Show, and from the Phelps Mills Festival to Lund Mania (plus many others), there were so many great events in the last few weeks that we almost had trouble getting to them all.

It takes tons of effort, energy, drive and financial support to put events like these on successfully.

This recognition is admittedly a generic 'kudos' meant to encompass a huge group of people from area communities, but it's the best we can do in this space. If it were possible to applaud every single person involved individually, we would, because they each deserve it. Without their contributions, countless numbers of people and causes would be worse off, and our summers would have far fewer activities to offer.

A PAUSE to the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners for approving a drainage plan for Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul lakes while so many downstream residents still have concerns - and without conducting a more comprehensive study of the environmental impacts of the plan.

Approved by the county board last week, the plan still has some murky areas when it comes to downstream water quality and who will pay for the project.

Downstream residents say less risky and less expensive options are out there, but feel they're not being heard. Public meetings were held to hear concerns, yet questions remained unanswered even as the county board went ahead and gave its OK.

The board also bypassed what we feel is an important step in the environmental accountability process when it opted out of conducting an Environmental Impact Statement. This sets a dangerous precedent for any projects like this that come along again in the future.

In our view, the county acted too hastily. Commissioner's efforts to help Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul lakes are a positive thing, but they should have taken more time to fully examine the environmental impacts of this plan, and to hear and address all the concerns of those who will be impacted by it.

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