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Ottertail moves forward with building upgrades

Soon the Ottertail Community Center will glisten with brand new flooring and new toilets in the bathrooms.

At the Ottertail City Council's September 2 meeting, bids were approved for tile work and the installation of new toilets. "We got two quotes for the floor covering in the bathrooms and kitchen," reported Ottertail City Clerk Elaine Hanson. Both quotes include getting rid of the old tiles and installing the new ones.

A quote was also received for the installation of two high rise toilets and one standard height toilet. The council went with the lowest quotes received for the projects, approving a motion to go forward with the two repairs.

Other community center concerns the council discussed include a leak in the roof and the condition of the carpet. It was reported that the carpet in the building has not been professionally cleaned since it was installed. Hanson said she will provide the council with information on these maintenance issues at the next council meeting.

Another item the city is looking into is the possible addition of a warning siren for Ottertail. Hanson informed the council that a 2001 Series Siren, which is one of the largest rotating sirens available, would cost the city around $18,200 per siren. This cost includes the installation of the unit.

After looking at the results of a study Otter Tail County conducted five years ago, Hanson learned that a large siren would be able to cover most of the residents within Ottertail's city limits.

However, as the council discussed, this does not mean that a warning siren going off would be heard by all citizens. It was noted that these are outdoor warning sirens, and if a person was inside a structure, with some of the natural noises that occur indoors, the siren might not be audible.

This point led the council to discuss the possibility of providing residents with individual weather radios. The estimated cost per radio is around $40. Although the expense of these radios is relatively low, the city would be looking at spending approximately the same amount of money on them as the cost of the siren. The radios would be distributed to the city's estimated 350 to 400 households.

"Which would do the most good?" questioned councilmember Myron Lueders. He mentioned how during the summer more people are outside, but at night a warning device like the radios might be more helpful.

Hanson and Ottertail Mayor Raymond "Ole" Mounts both said they would look into this matter further, and question other cities to see what they are doing. At the council's request, a representative for the outdoor warning siren system will be asked to give a presentation to the council at an upcoming meeting.

City receives request for additional funds

At the Sept. 2 meeting, the council also revisited a request from the Ottertail Business Persons Association. Mitch Malcolm, president of the association, wrote a letter to the council asking the city for $5,000 to help cover pre-event advertising costs for next year's Smokin' Iron Truck and Tractor Pull held in Ottertail.

On August 5, the council voted to pay the utility costs at all of the city's parks--for community events. Last year, the council donated money to the Ottertail Business Persons Association after a request was received for funds to help support the annual Smokin' Iron event. Councilmember Heather Pollard clarified that the city didn't donate money to Smokin' Iron, but rather to the business association.

Councilmember Don Patrick urged the council to be cautious in how they spend the few dollars the city does have, reminding his fellow board members of the projected financial shortfalls all Minnesota cities will be facing in the upcoming years.

"I did an unofficial poll of the community, and of what I call the 'silent majority,' 100 percent were opposed to the city financially supporting Smokin' Iron," Patrick reported.

The council decided to draft a letter in response to the request from the Ottertail Business Persons Association asking for a cost breakdown of the city's various festivals.