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County seeking new tenant for Fergus Falls facility

Otter Tail County is seeking a long term tenant for a building it owns in northwest Fergus Falls, north of the Bigwood Event Center. Tom Hintgen/Perham Focus

Otter Tail County officials continue to seek a long-term tenant at a building referred to the Western Avenue Facility in northwest Fergus Falls.

The future of the building was discussed at the June 4 Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The former renter, the state of Minnesota, previously used the facility to operate the Community Addiction Recovery Enterprise (CARE) program.

For various reasons, CARE did not need all of the available space at the Western Avenue Facility and moved to a building formerly occupied by Catholic Charities, also in northwest Fergus Falls.

In the meantime, Otter Tail County has an agreement for a short-term lease for the Western Avenue Facility. Lakes Country Service Cooperative plans to use the building for its Emotional Behavioral Disorder (EBD) program for special needs, while its space in the former Fergus Falls Armory in the industrial park is remodeled.

The county sheriff office and Fergus Falls police department have said they would like to see the Western Avenue Facility be used for withdrawal management following the closing several months ago of a detox center in Fergus Falls.

The Western Avenue Facility was constructed following the closure of the Regional Treatment Center. Three sections of 16 beds each are part of the facility, and up to 60 total beds are possible.

The previous rental agreement with the state of Minnesota allowed for rent payments to Otter Tail County to be used to pay back construction bonds.

The state, after the CARE personnel left the facility, has assisted the county financially. The latest help comes in the form of a $500,000 lump fund related to the bond payments.

Other options for a long-term lease include making use of the facility as a place for troubled youth, for overflow from the county jail and for overflow from the multi-county juvenile facility in Moorhead, of which Otter Tail County is a contributing member.