Felony convictions for two residents of Otter Tail County will be reduced to misdemeanors if they stay law abiding during their probationary periods. They are Weston Ross Espitia, 26, of Underwood, and Tana Marlene Mulcahy, 45, of Perham. Espitia was convicted on June 18 of a felony charge of burglary in the third degree. A judge issued the stay of imposition in county court, Fergus Falls, the same day. The original offense dates back to Jan. 4, 2017. He pled guilty on Oct. 5, 2017.
Three county sheriff candidates, one of who will replace the retiring Otter Tail County Sheriff Brian Schlueter, addressed future challenges Tuesday evening, June 19, during a sheriff forum at the American Legion, Fergus Falls. The three candidates are Jason Hoaby who has served as Perham police chief since 2010, Barry Fitzgibbons who has worked as county sheriff chief deputy the past two years and Kile Bergren who has served as Fergus Falls police chief for eight years.
Mojo, a Dutch Shepherd and part of the county k-9 unit under the direction of Sheriff Office Deputy Zach Eifert, sniffed out drug paraphernalia in a vehicle along Interstate 94 at 5:09 a.m. on June 21. This traffic stop took place in southwestern Otter Tail County. Dutch Shepherds, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois and Labrador retriever breeds have impressive senses of smell. Mojo is used in Otter Tail County when deputies engage in narcotics and evidence detection. They also assist in pursuit of fugitives and search for missing people.
Lake association volunteers throughout Otter Tail County, by collecting lake water samples, provide the necessary data to state agencies which help county officials maintain the well-being of area lakes. "What you do for lake stewardship is invaluable," said Moriya Rufer, environmental services director for RMB Labs, Detroit Lakes, while speaking to lake association members June 21 in the Ottertail Community Room.
Kevin Fellbaum, county ditch inspector, informed county board members about clean-out work completed in Ditch 25 from Highway 35 to the outlet of Wendt Lake, southeast of Vergas. Bill and Elaine Schepper spoke to the board about standing water on their property which they believe is a result of a culvert under Highway 35 that had been changed in the year 2000 from a 20-inch culvert to two 18-inch culverts at a higher elevation than the original culvert. The Scheppers indicated that the culvert under Highway 35 is not working.
High water at Spitzer Lake, southeast of Battle Lake and west of Parkers Prairie, has resulted in the county board of commissioners contracting with an engineering firm to see what can be done to alleviate the situation. "The lake has risen more than a foot and a half since last fall," said County Commissioner John Lindquist of Dalton. Lindquist represents Leaf Mountain Township, where Spitzer Lake is located.
The driver of a motorcycle sustained a broken leg in a cycle-deer accident south of New York Mills at 5:46 p.m. on June 12. The victim, who was taken to the Perham hospital, also sustained other lacerations. Sheriff deputies said the location of the accident was near the intersection of Highway 67 and 535th Avenue. Resort employee's paychecks stolen An employee at a resort on Pelican Lake, north of Pelican Rapids, reported to the sheriff office on June 12 that paychecks were stolen at the resort on June 7 or June 8.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office reminds county residents to be aware of a person making telephone calls and claiming to be from the IRS regarding delinquent taxes. A county resident recently received a voicemail from a person claiming to be Mary Ann Robinson. She asked the county resident to call her back and use a code of 03034. "This is a scam, since the IRS does not call people to try to collect taxes," says County Sheriff Administrative Lt. Keith Van Dyke.
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."