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Ottertail FD to buy six-wheeler, generator

A new generator will soon be purchased for the Ottertail Fire Hall.

Fire Chief Stuart Fleischauer presented three quotes for installing an automatic backup generator at the April 18 meeting of the Ottertail City Council.

All three bids he received were in the range of $8,200-8,400.

“This 17-kilowatt generator would handle our lights, garage doors, plus some other needs at the fire hall,” Fleischauer said.

The council approved a motion to purchase the new generator. The fire department already planned to purchase a generator this year and the funds for the purchase were available in the budget.

The generator will run off of natural gas. In the event of a loss of power, this alternative source of power will ensure that the garage doors will function properly and the fire trucks will be able to leave the fire hall in a timely manner.

Fleischauer also informed the council that Carr’s Tree Service has offered its used six-wheeler and trailer to the Ottertail Fire Department for $2,500.

“It would be a great device for a department like ours with a minimum amount of people,” he said. “It would help us save some manpower when fighting grass fires.”

He estimated that each year the fire department responds to 20-25 grass fire calls.

The six-wheeler could also come in handy as a search vehicle when looking for people who are lost.

Fleischauer asked if the city would be willing to help the fire department outfit the six-wheeler to be used for grass fire calls. He estimated that this would cost between $4,000 and $5,000.

The relief association will donate money to the city for the actual purchase of the six-wheeler.

The council approved a motion to allow Fleischauer to move forward with the six-wheeler purchase from Carr’s Tree Service.

Federal funds available for safe rooms

Patrick Waletzko, emergency management director for Otter Tail County, attended the council meeting to talk about hazard mitigation and protecting the community.

“We’re putting together a good group countywide in terms of preparing for emergencies,” he said. “It came to my attention that you guys were looking at a potential community center. One idea I had was to consider adding a safe room. With this idea comes the potential for some federal level assistance.”

Federal funds are available for communities looking to provide a “safe room,” which would serve as a centralized facility where community members could seek shelter during emergency weather situations. These grants cover 75 percent of the cost, and require that 25 percent be paid for by local sources.

Safe rooms constructed with the grant funds can be used for other purposes throughout the year. The square footage approved for a safe room is dependent on the number of people the facility will serve.

The city of Ottertail presently uses the MIR3 notification system in order to warn residents of severe weather situations. In the past, the installation of sirens throughout the city was discussed. Waletzko said that sirens on their own are not an eligible project for the grant, but a siren in conjunction with a safe room would apply.

Council members decided to discuss the matter further at next month’s meeting. If a decision is made to pursue the construction of a safe room, Waletzko said he would be willing to assist the city with the project.

Joy Ride program to promote safe travel

Mayor Lueders updated the council on a newly established Joy Ride program.

“It’s essentially a safe ride program,” he explained.

Lueders, who serves on the committee for Joy Ride, said the program will run from Battle Lake to Perham.

“The goal of the program is to make our community safer, both for people leaving the bars and for people on the road,” he said.

Otter Tail County presently has one of the highest DWI rates in the state of Minnesota. Joy Ride is asking cities and townships for some one-time financial donations in order to help get the program started.

Ottertail City Clerk/Treasurer Elaine Hanson said she will look into whether or not the city of Ottertail is permitted to donate to this type of an organization.

Other business

-A ribbon cutting event is tentatively planned for the city’s bike path on June 29. Refreshments will be provided and residents will be encouraged to take a walk on the path.

-Family Dollar has expressed interest in putting in a store on Otter Drive. A conditional use hearing would need to be held for the property.

Heidi Kratzke, for the Focus