Assistant Solid Waste Director Zach Fjestad reported to county board members that a superheater at the Perham Resource Recovery Facility (PRRF) needs to be replaced with an evaporator bank. He discussed the benefits of the equipment replacement and requested that Otter Tail County, as the fiscal agent for the facility, bond for the estimated cost of $900,000 to $1 million.
A woman in rural Pelican Rapids was called by a scam artist saying he was employed with the state of Minnesota. He then ordered the woman to purchase iTunes and send them to a specific address. The woman contacted her son who in turn contacted the Otter Tail County sheriff's office on Oct. 31. "The red flag is raised when the caller asks someone to purchase iTunes," said County Sheriff Brian Schlueter.
It's time for counties across Minnesota, including Otter Tail County, to upgrade their voting equipment. "The last upgrades, with state assistance, took place back in 2006," said County Auditor-Treasurer Wayne Stein to county commissioners on Oct. 24. To that end, Otter Tail County is applying for a state grant totaling $403,326. If received, the county would need to kick in an additional $258,831 as a matching amount. The 2017 Minnesota State Legislature created a Voting Equipment Grant account totaling $7 million.
County commissioners and division (department) directors met on Oct. 24 to develop recommendations for Minnesota state legislators. The upcoming state legislative session that will take place during 2018 in St. Paul. Otter Tail County is a member of the Minnesota Inter-County Association (MICA) which has provided a list of issues for member counties to weigh in on. "We are among 14 counties as part of MICA that comprise a major portion of Minnesota's population and economy," said County Board Chairman Doug Huebsch of Perham.
Stephen Michael Halverson, 21, of Pelican Rapids, will have a felony charge of burglary in the second degree reduced to a misdemeanor if he remains law abiding. A county court order of a Stay of Imposition on Oct. 13 calls for the eventual conversion to a misdemeanor. This is dependent on Halverson staying crime free during supervised probation for 10 years. The defendant had pled guilty on June 5. The offense dated back to Dec. 22, 2016.
Starting Jan. 1, 2018, the county wheelage tax of $10 on vehicle license tab renewals will increase to $20 per license tab. State law allowed for Otter Tail County and other counties in Minnesota to enact fees of $10 per license tab for calendar years 2016 and 2017 and to raise the fee to $20 in 2018. The $20 per vehicle wheelage tax in Otter Tail County in 2018 is expected to add close to $1.2 million for roadway maintenance. In addition, proceeds to Otter Tail County from a one-half cent sales tax will yield close to $3.8 million annually for roadway maintenance.
County Public Works Director Rick West discussed with county board members a proposal for long-range planning in coordination with SRF Consulting Group, Inc. Discussion took place regarding changes in the contract with SRF that would facilitate the scope of long-range planning in Otter Tail County to align with priorities identified by county residents.
Sheriff deputies said a vandal used a shotgun to shoot at a Ford Explorer in the town of Ottertail. The incident was reported on Oct. 19. "A slug was found inside the vehicle," said County Sheriff Administrative Lt. Keith Van Dyke. "There were no immediate suspects." Van Dyke said the vehicle, which sustained close to $500 in damage, had been for sale next to a business establishment on Main Street in Ottertail. Chase takes place along Interstate 94
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.