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Ottertail approves liquor license for restaurant

At its regular June meeting, the Ottertail City Council was presented with a copy of the new fire marshal's report for The Otter Supper Club and Lounge.

"Evidently there are six items that are still in violation over at The Otter," reported Ottertail City Clerk/Treasurer Elaine Hanson.

The council approved a combination on-sale/off-sale and Sunday liquor license for the new owner Dan Hurder, contingent on the repairs being done and approved by the fire marshal, the fee being paid and the paperwork being completed. The new ownership has until Friday, July 1 to have all of the repairs completed or else legal action may be taken.

Hanson said representatives of The Otter have said they will have the violations fixed by the end of the month.

One issue that might complicate this transition is the possible state shutdown on July 1. If the liquor license got stuck at the state level during the shutdown, the city wouldn't be able to do anything.

The current owner's liquor license will end on June 30 when the operation changes hands. The new owner's license will begin on July 1, if everything is approved.

In other business, an update was provided on the sewer surveys the city sent out to Ottertail residents.

"We got about a third of our surveys back," Hanson reported.

City staff recently met with a representative from the Minnesota Rural Water Association. The next plan of action is to work on compiling a spreadsheet that will detail all of the information gathered from the surveys.

After they are done with that task, the city will start working on its sewer ordinance. At some point, the city will schedule a public hearing on this.

Hanson did say that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently sent the city an email announcing that they were pushing back some of the new sewer requirements until 2014.

Councilmember Heather Rosenthal said she's had several people come to her with concerns and asking her why the city is looking at a city sewer. The city is not considering a city sewer, but at this time is looking to evaluate the condition of the individual sewer systems in the city.

This information will be used to help the city locate funding assistance that property owners can apply for that will help them bring their sewer systems up to the standards that will be required by the state in 2014.

Regarding discussions on emergency operations, the council was informed that the county approved the MIR3 Emergency Alert System upgrade. Councilmember Mike Windey said that he asked representatives from the county to keep the city of Ottertail informed about the system.

There is a possibility that joining up with the county's system might not be an option for the city any time in the near future. If this is the case, the council agreed that weather radios and sirens might once again be the best route for the city.

The recent USDA-UFAS (Accessibility) Compliance Review was briefly discussed. The assessment for the Ottertail City Hall building was performed during the first part of May.

Hanson said she discovered three corrections the city needs to make at city hall. These include putting in a wheelchair accessible threshold, pulling the sink skirt off in the bathroom, and insulating the hot water pipes. The council approved the transition plan to do updates for the building.

The city also approved the ordering of two automated external defibrillators (AEDs): one for the Ottertail Community Center and one for city hall. The cost of each AED, including tax, is $1,543. The city has already received several donations to help cover a significant portion of the costs associated with the approved purchase.

The city acknowledged donations from the Ottertail Lions Club for floor care ($100) and for the purchase of an AED for the community center ($600). Also acknowledged was a donation from the Ottertail Auction Committee for playground equipment for the community park valued at $4,537.38.

A third donation was acknowledged from T.I.P., Inc.--Ottertail Chapter for $3,000 for port 'o potties for the Smokin' Iron Truck and Tractor Pull event held last weekend in Ottertail.

The council also reviewed a report from the Ottertail Fire Department. The report covered department activity from January 2011 to the present. So far this year, there have been 36 rescue calls and 10 fire calls.

The council's consensus was to ask the fire department for more specific information on the training that is being done. Having the department keep records of each drill, specifying what they trained on each month and who attended the drill, will help to provide the council with a more detailed report.