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.
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.