Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners Chairman Doug Huebsch of Perham is among those who would like to see a county DWI rehabilitation program, currently referred to as the DWI Court, expanded to also assist those with drug and mental health issues. "A name change from DWI Court to something else seems to be in order," Huebsch said. "The key word is rehabilitation." His comments followed a report to the county board by DWI Court rehabilitation program coordinator Tria Mann.
Sheriff deputies reported the arrest of Joshua Fearing, north of Dent, on a charge of negligent fire damage of more than $2,500. On May 8 Fearing was in a verbal argument with a female acquaintance at her residence in rural Dent. He became upset in a garage and kicked a plastic gas can out of anger. He was holding a cigarette at 5:25 a.m. The spout broke from the gas can, causing gas to spray out the spout. The gas immediately lit on fire.
County commissioners heard from County Human Services Director Deb Sjostrom who presented the Human Services 2018 Annual Report summary. A video provided an overview of the various programs offered through County Human Services as well as the number of individuals receiving services through each of the programs in 2018. This video, along with a two-page document summarizing the data, will be available through the county's website.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer, speaking April 30 in Fergus Falls, praise new organizations such as the Otter Tail County Community Development Agency (CDA). The CDA has a goal to strengthen the communities of Otter Tail County by expanding affordable housing opportunities, promoting economic development, and fostering coordination of public and private resources. "Change is here and we need to push forward with not only challenges but also positive choices," Schierer said.
Sheriff deputies reported that a garage fire near Star Lake, on May 2, resulted in the loss of not only the garage but also two vehicles and household items inside the structure. Fire departments were called to the scene, west of Dent, at 6:44 a.m. The Minnesota state fire marshal conducted a scene investigation after the fire was extinguished. Due to the severity of the damage a cause of the fire could not be determined. However, as of May 3 the fire was not considered to be suspicious.
County Human Services Director Deb Sjostrom explained to county board members the agreement between Human Services and school districts to provide transportation of children who are in foster care placement in Otter Tail County. Children in placement may be in a foster care home outside of their school of origin. The agreements with the schools are to provide transportation services to those children when it is determined that it is in their best interests to remain in their school of origin. "This gives them school stability and educational continuity," Sjostrom said.
Sheriff deputies reported that a burglar, just seconds from breaking into a house with a two-by-four board in hand, fled from the scene when a neighbor interrupted the attempt east of Underwood. The incident took place at Turtle Shore Lane near South Turtle Lake. An eye witness said the suspect was wearing a gray sweatshirt and dark pants. Sheriff deputies were called at 2:08 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23. The investigation continued the following day. Jeep topper stolen
Sheriff deputies, on April 17, reported several phone call scam attempts in various places of Otter Tail County the previous day. One county resident, unfortunately, took the bait and became a scam victim after providing some financial information over the phone. The resident resides at East Spirit Lake, southwest of Vergas. A Deer Creek resident avoided the scam. This person received a call on April 16. The caller said he was with a collection agency and said the Deer Creek resident needed to pay for a medical procedure.
County Commissioner Doug Huebsch of Perham reported to fellow board members that he testified at the state legislature in support of Senate File 1227, a Solid Waste Management Tax Revenue Allocation Modification. This proposed legislation is co-authored by State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen who represents Otter Tail County. If passed, counties would see their current SCORE grant dollars increased. This would help further local recycling goals. The county board is in full support of this legislation and keeping these dollars local.
The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners approved a recommendation from County Ditch Inspector Kevin Fellbaum to repair Ditch 58 located in Otto Township, southeast of Perham. A section of this ditch also is located in nearby Pine Lake Township. Fellbaum agreed with area landowners who said the ditch was designed to outlet into the Otter Tail River, but does not. For that reason, Fellbaum and county commissioners agreed that ditch repairs are warranted. Ditch 58 was established May 20, 1916.