Sloan Connor Thurston, 22, of Richville, was sentenced Oct. 2 in county court after pleading guilty for a felony charge of damage to property in the first degree and risk of bodily harm. His guilty plea was made on July 21. The original charge dates back to Oct. 15, 2016. A 15-month sentence to the correctional facility in St. Cloud was stayed for five years. Local confinement in the county jail is six months with credit for time served amounting to 13 days.
Fire destroyed a detached garage, which contained living quarters, Saturday afternoon, Oct. 7, at Buchanan Lake north of Ottertail city. "The adjacent home did not catch fire, but there was significant heat damage to the exterior of the house," said County Sheriff Administrative Lt. Keith Van Dyke. "The occupants of the house, an adult and young child, were able to safely evacuate the dwelling." Firefighters from Ottertail and Perham were called to the scene at 2:30 p.m. The garage was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived.
A net county preliminary property tax levy of $39.1 million for 2018 was adopted Sept. 26 by the county board of commissioners. This represents a proposed 4.9 percent increase compared to the 2017 budget. "The board, in its final decision in December, can decrease the amount of the levy but cannot increase it above the $39.1 million as part of the preliminary adoption," said County Auditor-Treasurer Wayne Stein.
With the deer hunting firearm season less than a month away, county residents should beware of more deer on roadways, especially at dawn and dusk. At least five deer-vehicle accidents took place on county roads from Oct, 10 to Oct. 12. Fortunately, no driver or pedestrian injuries were reported. A car hit a deer at 6:32 a,m. on Oct. 10 at Jolly Fisherman Road, at Long Lake and near Vergas. That same day, at 8:46 p.m., there was a car-vehicle accident south of Bluffton at the intersection of Highways 75 and 29.
Reflections of renowned Otter Tail County artist Charles Beck, 94, who died on Sept. 12, come from a former student of Beck at Fergus Falls Community College, now part of M State. "He taught more than art. Mr. Beck taught us how to truly see things," said Gail Onstad, an Underwood High School graduate who attended the community college from 1977 to 1979. Onstad said she is grateful and honored to have studied under Beck while at the community college where he mentored generations of students like her to explore, develop and master their own styles.
Minor injuries took place when two motorcycles crashed, north of Clitherall, at 6:26 p.m. on Oct. 4. "Two drivers were on individual cycles and traveling east on Highway 16. They turned south onto Highway 5 when the crash took place," said County Sheriff Brian Schlueter. Only one of the riders needed to be transported to Lake Region Healthcare, Fergus Falls. The driver was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Assisting sheriff deputies were members of the Henning Ambulance crew.
County Attorney David Hauser will retire in January 2018. His replacement will be Chief County Attorney Deputy Michelle Eldien. "We thank David for his many years of service to Otter Tail County," said County Board Chairman Doug Huebsch of Perham during the commissioners' regular board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26. Hauser has served as county attorney for 20 years. The county board named Eldien as Hauser's replacement. She will serve as an appointee until the next election.
A 32-year-old Richville man, Kenneth Dean Betts, was injured Sept. 27 when the potato truck he was driving was struck by a train in the city of Ottertail. The accident took place on Elevator Drive at 10:42 a.m. According to the county sheriff report, multiple witnesses said the truck driver crossed the railroad tracks in front of the train without yielding. "The truck was then pushed along the tracks in a northwesterly direction," said County Sheriff Administrative Lt. Keith Van Dyke.
Joe Hauer's first time as a walleye fisherman went well on Friday afternoon, Sept. 22, at Otter Tail Lake. Temperatures were in the low 80s with a slight breeze. Hauer, youth pastor for Church of the Zazarene in Fergus Falls, who has previously fished for panfish, enjoyed walleye fishing with this reporter (Tom Hintgen) and Richard Tomhave, led by professional fishing guide Ross Hagemeister. "Fall is a great time of year for walleye fishing," said Hagemeister. "You can find walleye in shallow, deep or mid-depths this time of year."
Members who comprise the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners mourn the passing of County Solid Waste Director Mike Hanan, 59, who died Sept. 15 after a courageous battle with cancer. "Mike was an awesome employee and person and who will be missed," said County Board Chairman Doug Huebsch of Perham. "Mike was kind, knowledgeable and hardworking. I really enjoyed working with him. I'm sad for Mike's family because he left us way too early."