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Ditch 48 hearing planned for Jan. 22

A public hearing for the redetermination of benefits for Ditch 48, in Otto Township west of New York Mills, will be held Jan. 22, 2018, at 7 p.m. at the County Law Enforcement Center in Ottertail City.

The meeting will be held for property owners within the Ditch 48 catchment basin and will provide information of what can be done moving forward regarding the ditch system.

On Nov. 28 the county board of commissioners continued the public hearing for Ditch 48.

County Ditch Inspector Kevin Fellbaum indicated that this hearing, at the County Government Services Center in Fergus Falls, was continued from Oct. 24, 2017. He said that county officials previously met with Otto Township officials about drainage work they completed about seven years ago.

"That work facilitated water flow into Ditch 48," said Fellbaum.

County commissioners discussed two options; 1) petitioning for the properties draining into the ditch to join the ditch, and 2) close the drainage ditch that had been dug and remove the properties from the Ditch 48 system and redetermination of benefits.

A motion by Commissioner Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls and seconded by Commissioner Roger Froemming of Parkers Prairie was unanimously carried to extend the public hearing to Jan. 22, 2018, at the Law Enforcement Center in Ottertail City.

Buffer compliance waivers reviewed

Otter Tail County, through the West and East Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), has a website and a process to assist county landowners in complying with the Buffer Ordinance.

There are about 150 compliance waivers that offer extension to landowners to June 1, 2018.

SWCD officials are working with the county on buffer strips around county ditches. The ordinance includes all public waters.

All developed lakes are in compliance. The SWCDs are responsible for ongoing inspections and compliance.

The West Otter Tail SWCD phone number in Fergus Falls is 218-739-4694 and the East SWCD phone number in Perham is 218-346-4260.

SWAT team grant sought by county

County commissioners authorize the Sheriff's Office to apply for a grant from the West Central Emergency Management Service for $500 for medical equipment for the SWAT team.

On another matter, the county board approve out-of-state travel for Deputy Jordan Anderson to attend a Life Savers Conference in San Antonio, Texas, from April 21 to April 24, 2018.

Options studied for land between Otter Tail and Blanche lakes

DNR officials met with the county board members to discuss the proposed sale of Otter Tail County land located between Otter Tail and Blanche lakes.

There has been interest expressed from surrounding landowners to keep this parcel in its natural state.

The county could facilitate a purchase by other conservation entities.

There was also a suggestion that this property be used as wetland credits for highway projects.

County board members requested that County Administrator John Dinsmore draft a letter to DNR Coordinator Amy Schwarz, indicating that Otter Tail County is interested in exploring options for the land between Otter Tail and Blanche lakes.

County website update given to county board

Otter Tail County Communications Director Nick Leonard and E-Government Administrator Scott Backstrom reviewed the analysis of the county's current website provided by OnSharp.

Included were 1) goal assessment and focus groups, 2) website peer comparison, 3) platform comparisons, and 4) review of findings and discussion of next steps with stakeholders.

Leonard indicated that the county's recommendation after thorough analysis is to pursue a WordPress format for the county's website.

A motion by Commissioner Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids and seconded by Commissioner Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls was unanimously carried to authorize Leonard to solicit formal proposals for developing a WordPress website for Otter Tail County.

Commissioner Johnson requested organizing a user group, including county residents and county employees alike, after the new site is developed to help keep it relevant to the consumers.

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