County Land and Resources Director Bill Kalar told county commissioners on March 27 that 24 watercraft inspectors have been hired to work at county lake accesses during the summer of 2018. "Nine of these hires are returning from summer 2017, and 15 people will be new as watercraft inspectors," Kalar said. The 24 summer workers will work directly with Spencer McGrew, Otter Tail County's Aquatic Invasive Species task force specialist.
Sheriff deputies reported two fires in late March in Otter Tail County. During one fire, reported at 10:12 p.m. on March 29, one-quarter of a greenhouse was destroyed near the southwest side of Rush Lake, north of the town of Ottertail. Authorities said the cause of the fire at the greenhouse was determined to be a malfunction at a wood stove. Firefighters from Ottertail responded to the scene of the fire. A second fire, which led to destruction of a barn, was reported at 6:17 a.m. on March 31, near Highway 56, east of New York Mills.
Shareholders of Otter Tail Corporation were informed March 19 that customers of Otter Tail Power Company, including those in Otter Tail County, will likely see savings when they receive future bill statements. Those savings will likely reflect the federal tax cuts enacted earlier this year for both corporations and individuals. Comments came during a meeting of Minnesota Utility Investors (MUI) held at the American Legion in Fergus Falls.
Some of the money stolen by scammers from an 85-year-old female resident of Otter Tail County has been recovered. After an investigation took place, $29,000 was recovered. How much money was not recovered was not immediately available. On March 5 the victim received phone calls informing her that she would receive a Mercedes Benz if she sent money to the caller. "The victim sent packages containing cash to several locations in the United States,"said County Sheriff Administrative Lt. Keith Van Dyke.
Rick West will remain as the county public works director resulting in hiring a county engineer. The latter duties also had been held by West. "Mr. West has been busy with more and more issues relating to public works such as Phelps Mill restoration, the Pelican Rapids to Perham trail, McDonald Lake outlet, broadband, strategic planning and other issues," noted County Board Chairman Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids.
Otter Tail County Sheriff Brian Schlueter has informed the county board of commissioners that he plans to retire the end of this year, on Dec. 31, 2018. His career, in addition to Sheriff Department duties based in Fergus Falls, has included law enforcement work in East Lansing, Michigan, Burnsville south of the Twin Cities and in Belleview, Wash. Schlueter praised sheriff deputies and staff under his supervision who he says do an outstanding job in serving the residents of Otter Tail County.
Sheriff deputies heard from a Clitherall resident on March 13 who reported that someone used his Social Security number to obtain two cell phones that were charged to the account of the Clitherall resident. The total bill was $500 but Verizon said the Clitherall resident will not be responsible for the charges and will not be out any money. An investigation is continuing. Another scam averted A Dent resident told sheriff deputies on March 13 that he received a phone call from a person who said he was with the IRS.
County Engineer Rick West reviewed with county board members on March 13 a proposed fish passage project at Phelps Mill in central Otter Tail County. At the same time, West updated the five-person county board about plans for Phelps Mill structural and dam improvements Funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is available for dirt-moving activities that will directly provide for the fish passage.
Cyndi Abbott, License Center manager for Otter Tail County, told county commissioners on March 13 that she and her employees are doing their best to serve county residents. Their jobs are not easy these days. That's because county employees who assist vehicle owners have no control over the new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS). MNLARS debuted in July 2017. But since then, people in Otter Tail County and across the state have waited months to receive vehicle titles or weeks to receive new tabs.
A judge in Otter Tail County ordered Stays of Impositions on Feb. 26 for two Henning residents who had been charged with felonies. Under a Stay of Imposition, a person will have his or her felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor if the person stays law abiding during a probationary period. Jennifer Lee Austin, 33, was convicted in court on a felony charge of fifth degree drug possession. That conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor if she successfully completes five years of probation. The case dates back to Dec. 30, 2016. She pled guilty on Nov. 30, 2017.