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Otter Tail County Water Patrol concludes successful summer

In 2022, Deputies Dave Weiss, Jeff Moon, Brian Hovland, Ethan Soland, Derek Meyer and Jared Hotakainen, were teachers or retired teachers. Now, they enjoy educating county residents and visitors on boat and water safety.

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Otter Tail County Water Patrol recently concluded their summer work.
Contributed / Otter Tail County
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FERGUS FALLS — The Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol deputies wrapped up another season on the 1,048 lakes of Otter Tail County. May through September water patrol deputies are on duty to promote safety on the lakes and rivers in the county.

Water patrol deputies are on the water every day in the summer. An additional 230 hours are provided by a yearly federal boating grant in which deputies work overtime hours on the weekends. The water patrol deputies are not licensed peace officers. However, deputies receive boat and water regulation training, first aid and CPR certification, as well as search and rescue training. Deputies also participate in the Public Safety Dive Team operations and training events.

Troy Lee, a teacher and member of the water patrol team for 16 years, gives this advice to those on the water. “With so many lakes in our county, we have a lot of ground to cover. So, the sooner you make the call about any issue on the lakes, the better. We do our best to respond to all issues that involve our lakes.”

Otter Tail County Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons shared the importance of water patrol on local lakes. “Their presence on the water is key to keeping all water activities safe. They will respond to any watercraft emergencies including accidents and any complaints or issues that occur on the water.”

The goal of the program is to make sure those that use the lakes can enjoy them, regardless of the water activity. In 2022, Deputies Dave Weiss, Jeff Moon, Brian Hovland, Ethan Soland, Derek Meyer and Jared Hotakainen, were teachers or retired teachers. Now, they enjoy educating county residents and visitors on boat and water safety.

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Lee shared a memorable moment from his work. “A few years ago, we had a call from a pontoon on a large lake after dark. The boat's motor had quit and there were three elderly couples on board. With no lights on the boat, it was not easy to locate, but after a while, we found the pontoon and they were so appreciative. We towed the boat back to their cabin and everyone was okay.”

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