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Pictured in their new building on Highway 78/108 are Ottertail city staff members Lee Sherman, Shari Wheeler, and Linda Bjelland.

Ottertail city offices at new home

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By Friday afternoon, March 27, the phone lines were officially hooked up and the city of Ottertail received its first call at the new headquarters.

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The three city staff members spent the day setting up shop in what was once the 1st National Bank branch building in Ottertail. The spacious former bank building is significantly larger than the space the city was operating out of in the community center/ fire hall building.

When the Ottertail 1st National Bank branch moved to their new location at the corner of Highways 78 and 108 last year, they purchased all new office equipment. This allowed for all of the old office equipment and furniture to be sold to the city with the bank building.

The building, now home to the city offices, was constructed in 1981. It is located on the west side of Highway 78/108. The facility houses three offices, a large entrance area, two sizeable back rooms, and two restrooms.

After just one day in the new building, city personnel were already unpacking boxes full of files and papers--noting how nice it is to have all of the added space. One of the bank's back rooms will give the city room to spread out maps and will serve as a work area.

The decision to relocate the city offices came rather suddenly, and was spurred forward by an offer to check out the old bank this past December. Jim Espeland, Senior Vice President at 1st National Bank, first brought up the possibility to city officials. At a Jan. 22 meeting, the Ottertail City Council approved a proposal for the purchase of the building.

One of the more unique benefits of housing the city offices in a former bank building is that the city will get to utilize the vault. City files will be housed in the vault, providing what is likely the most secure records storage in the county.

In addition to the increased space and improved efficiency of the new building, the move could also be seen as an attempt to help connect what is sometimes viewed as a disjointed city. With the older portion of Ottertail city located about a mile east of Highway 78/108 and much of the newer development right on the highway, the city is essentially split into two sections.

The new highway location will give the city a presence in the "new" section of town, while still retaining a connection to the "old"-- with the fire hall and community center remaining at their current location. Having the city offices right on the highway should also give the growing city some more visibility.

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