County commissioners were informed on Feb. 6 that deconstruction (selective dismantlement) of the now-empty Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center (RTC) will commence this winter. The good news, according to Fergus Falls City Administrator Andrew Bremseth, is that the city plans to keep the main tower as a permanent reminder of the community's history. To the west of the landmark tower is the County Government Services Center. "We appreciate hearing first hand about your plans," said County Board Chairman Wayne Johnson to Bremseth.
Sheriff deputies reported that two vehicles crashed through thin ice on Otter Tail Lake Saturday evening. Feb. 3. One incident took place on the north side of the lake and the other on the south side. Occupants of both vehicles were able to escape, unharmed. The first incident took place near open water at 9:37 p.m. on the north side of Otter Tail Lake, near Walker Lake. The second incident took place at 11:11 p.m. near Balmoral and near the intersection of Highways 78 and 128. Alcohol was a factor in the vehicle incident on the north side of the lake.
County commissioners voted to to approve an agreement between the University of Minnesota and Otter Tail County to support an additional 4-H Program Coordinator position and a .2 full-time equivalent master gardener position. The resolution came from Commissioner Doug Huebsch of Perham and was seconded by Commissioner John Lindquist of Dalton. AIS funding requests approved Approved by county commissioners were two motions related to the fight against Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS).
The Otter Tail County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Task Force continues to take a proactive approach in stopping the spread of invasives throughout the county. The task force already is making plans for summer 2018. Two of the main enemies are Zebra Mussels which attach themselves to boats and Starry Stonewort which grows into dense mats than can cover surfaces of shallow water.
Each year Otter Tail County's Emergency Operations Plan is updated to reflect the most current information and to enhance existing information, documentation and practices. And each year the plan, through County Emergency Manager Patrick Waletzko, is brought to the county board's Internal Services Committee for review and later on to the full county board for approval.
A resident near New York Mills reported a stolen vehicle on Jan. 23. According to sheriff deputies, it appears someone close to the suspect forged a signature on the vehicle title during a sales transaction. In Minnesota, law requires that the original owner sign the title certificate over to the new owner. Charges were pending against the suspect who made the fraudulent sale. Scam averted A rural Pelican Rapids resident received an email with a threat that he would be harmed if a payment of $1,800 was not made.
A fight between two brothers who were traveling in a vehicle east of Pelican Rapids resulted in the vehicle entering the ditch. Arrested was the driver, 51-year-old Troy Mitchell Dahl, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who had reportedly pointed a handgun toward Tyler Dahl of Pelican Rapids. This resulted in a fight which resulted in the vehicle entering the ditch. The location was near Silent Lake at the intersection of Highways 108 and 41 at 5:06 p.m. on Jan. 13. Troy Dahl was arrested and charged with second degree assault in county court, Fergus Falls.
County commissioners voted to schedule a public hearing at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, for the issuance of general obligation bonds for the Perham refuse burner. The project will be coordinated by the Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority (PLMSWA) and consist of equipment improvements. The public hearing will be held during a regular county board meeting at the Government Services Center in Fergus Falls.
County commissioners agreed with Human Services Director Deb Sjostrom on Jan. 23 that Minnesota's mental health system does not have the capacity to consistently respond to the needs of individuals in crisis. "More appropriate treatment options are needed," said Sjostrom. To that end, commissioners voted to join other counties in asking the state legislature to provide funding for more regional behavioral health program facilities and permanent supportive housing for people with behavioral health needs.
The county government website is up for renewal in 2018, and on Jan. 9 the five-person county board of commissioners approved a contract for new web design with Alexandria-based CYBERsprout. "They build websites that are accessible and user friendly," said Nick Leonard, Otter Tail County Director of Communications and External Relations, who addressed county board members. "A person's ability to efficiently find information by accessing the county website is a top priority."