Assistant County Highway Engineer Chuck Grotte and representatives from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spoke to county board members regarding a DNR public meeting held May 5, 2017, when a proposed Phelps Mill fish passage project was discussed. Board members called for a transparent process to inform the public about project options, history of the project, condition of current structures, past meeting summaries, funding sources, and timeline.
County Veterans Service Officer Charlie Kampa briefed the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners on various veterans programs including legal assistance clinics and town hall meetings. Otter Tail County was eighth in the state during fiscal year 2016-17 in receiving $211,315 of federal compensation and pension benefits, which does not include education, insurance or medical care. Kampa is in the process of developing a Veterans Advisory Panel consisting of about 15 stakeholders. He requested permission to begin a feasibility study for a Veterans Court in Fergus Falls.
Lake Region Electric Cooperative CEO Tim Thompson announced during the Thursday evening, June 1, annual meeting that LREC is expanding into the natural gas business as Lake Region Energy Service (LRES). The partnership is with Greater Minnesota Gas, Inc., based in Le Sueur, Minnesota. Franchise agreements with the cities of Deer Creek and Parkers Prairie are in place. "We have a $1.6 million investment in the Deer Creek and Parkers Prairie areas of eastern Otter Tail County," said Thompson.
Sheriff deputies reported that on May 30 a resident of East Wymer Lake Road, northeast of Vergas, informed them of a theft that took place between May 27 and May 30. Stolen was a flat-screen TV valued at $114. "The back door had been kicked in," said County Sheriff Brian Schlueter. "We have possible suspects and we are continuing the investigation." Dead raccoon thrown into area hot tub Someone put a dead raccoon into a hot tub causing damage northeast of Pelican Rapids.
Sheriff deputies reported that a driver lost control of his vehicle which entered a ditch at the intersection of Highway 13 and 500th Street, north of Perham and north of Big Pine Lake. The driver swerved to avoid hitting a deer on May 9. His injuries were minor, according to sheriff deputies. Stolen trailer found in Pelican Rapids A 20-foot enclosed trailer that had been stolen in Brooklyn Center, near the Twin Cities, was identified and recovered in Pelican Rapids.
Otter Tail County, in partnership with the Otter Tail County Historical Society, is forming a Sesquicentennial Celebration Committee charged with planning and implementing a series of events and activities commemorating Otter Tail County's 150th anniversary in 2018. The plan received county board approval on May 9. "This distinctive milestone provides an opportunity to reflect on the history and accomplishments of the past, as well as celebrate our culture and the success that Otter Tail County has enjoyed," said Nick Leonard, county economic development director.
Environmental reviews are still taking place related to a proposed casino submitted by the White Earth Nation on the southwest side of Star Lake in central Otter Tail County. This past fall the county board of commissioners voted to table a Conditional Use Permit request regarding a proposed parking lot and driveway for the casino and hotel. The board's decision is tied to completion of the environmental review process. The county board has control over non-tribal land that includes the area for the proposed parking lot and driveway.
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, always looking for new ways to help fulfill its goal to limit the spread of AIS in Otter Tail County, is looking to expand its effort with decontamination of boats, motors, trailers and other water-related equipment.
The county board of commissioners, on May 9, accepted as complete the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) reviewed by a third party, Houston Engineering. The voluntary Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) process was put into motion by the White Earth Nation for the proposed Star Lake casino project. The EAW will now be forwarded to the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB). The EQB and Otter Tail County will publish the EAW on their respective websites. A public comment period will run from May 19 to June 21.
During a public meeting held March 28, the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners, gave its approval for the issuance of capital improvement bonds for a county jail remodeling project adjacent to the courthouse, south of downtown Fergus Falls.