County Board Chairman Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids called a public hearing to order on June 5 to obtain comments regarding the proposed amendment to the current Dock and Riparian Use Ordinance. The public meeting was held at the county Government Services Center in Fergus Falls. Members of the County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Task Force were asked to regulate the movement of docks, lifts, rafts and associated equipment from lake to lake to avoid infestation of aquatic invasive species (AIS).
County lake association members, others from Otter Tail County and area county residents traveled to Detroit Lakes on June 8 to learn about initiatives developed by the University of Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. "Even with the best of intentions, we cannot solve the problems of today with the solutions from yesterday," said U of M AIS Research Center Director Nicholas Phelps. "Our center has been working to develop science-based solutions to reduce the impacts of AIS in Minnesota waters."
County Commissioner Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls reported on a meeting regarding the process for Otter Tail Power Company to relicense its five dams along the Otter Tail River. This is a long process and the scope of the project has input from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Minnesota DNR. Rogness said he will continue to attend the meetings and report back to the County Board. Most residents along the river want the dams and reservoirs to remain intact. They do support studies for fish passages and enhanced water testing.
Camper destroyed by fire Fire destroyed a camper at Sybil Lake, south of Vergas. The incident was reported to sheriff deputies on May 14. The Vergas fire chief, in communication with County Sheriff Administrative Lt. Keith Van Dyke, said the items lost inside the 8-by-24-foot camper totaled close to $20,000. "The camper was about 12 years old," said Van Dyke. "A neighbor heard a small explosion, saw smoke, and called authorities." Area firefighters responded to the scene of the fire. Scam averted
Chris LeClair has assumed duties as the new director for the County Land and Resources Office. He replaces the recently retired Bill Kalar. LeClair previously worked for Washington County, near St. Paul, as a senior environmental health specialist pertaining to septic inspections. His employment for the county, which includes the city of Stillwater, spanned 21.5 years. He and his family resided at nearby White Bear Lake.
A judge in Otter Tail County ordered a Stay of Imposition on March 30 for a Pelican Rapids man, 55-year-old William Donald Dayton. He will have a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor if the he remains law abiding during a five-year probationary period. Dayton had been convicted of a felony of receiving stolen property. The offense dates back to July 8, 2017. He had pled guilty on Feb. 5, 2018. Local confinement is 30 days. Fee totals for the defendant is $660. The judge also ordered a chemical assessment through Otter Tail County Human Services.
Thefts in rural Perham, Henning Appliances were taken from a vacant dairy farm north of Perham. The incident was reported to sheriff deputies on May 9. The location of the theft was along Highway 51, near Little Pine Lake. Two gopher traps were taken from a garage south of Ottertail city and northwest of Henning. This incident was reported to authorities on May 9. Otter Tail resident scammed out of $3,000 Sheriff deputies said on May 9 that a county resident, northeast of Pelican Rapids, was scammed and has lost $3,000.
This is the time of year when organizations in Otter Tail County and the surrounding area serve smelt. Three of them were held by the Parkers Prairie Lions Club, on April 7-8; the Fergus Falls Eagles Club, on April 28; and the Ashby American Legion, on May 5. Some first timers at smelt fries are surprised when they learn that good-eating smelt only weigh about three ounces and are three to four inches in length.
County residents who overcame addiction to alcohol, through the Otter Tail County DWI Court program, conveyed their success stories to county commissioners on May 1. This was part of the 10-year recognition of the county DWI Court. "When we started here in 2008, we were one of only three counties in the state of Minnesota with a DWI Court program," said administrator Tria Mann. "Now we have 16 counties in Minnesota that have similar programs." DWI Courts have provided counseling and positive reinforcement to people convicted of DWIs.
Two garages were destroyed by fires on May 6 in different parts of Otter Tail County. One fire took place at 1:13 p.m. southeast of New York Mills and the other fire was located northeast of Perham, The fire near New York Mills took place near Highway 76. Nothing of significance was destroyed in the unattached garage. Cause of the fire is believed to be due to an improperly extinguished fire from previous days. Coming to the scene were firefighters from New York Mills and Bluffton.