The county government website is up for renewal in 2018, and on Jan. 9 the five-person county board of commissioners approved a contract for new web design with Alexandria-based CYBERsprout. "They build websites that are accessible and user friendly," said Nick Leonard, Otter Tail County Director of Communications and External Relations, who addressed county board members. "A person's ability to efficiently find information by accessing the county website is a top priority."
The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners has an ongoing commitment to help fund the east and west county fairs, in Perham and Fergus Falls, respectively. However, in return for the ongoing financial assistance to the summer fairs is the county board's request for financial information about overall operations from the east and west county fair boards. County board members say this is necessary in order for continued taxpayer funding assistance to take place. State funds county programs for county child assistance
A rural Dent resident who left the scene of a single-vehicle traffic accident on the south side of Dent, without contacting authorities, was arrested on Jan. 9. Don Eugene Forrett, 38, was arrested by sheriff deputies for failure to report damage to property and failure of reporting an injury. He also was cited for having inattentive driving. The accident took place close to 10 p.m. on Jan. 8. The driver lost control of his vehicle and struck an electrical pole owned by Pelican Rapids-based Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC).
County commissioners, on Jan. 2, convened two public meetings on feedlot expansions, on behalf of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). County board members reminded attendees that testimony summaries are sent to the MPCA in St. Paul, with final decisions made at the state level and not the county level. The MPCA is responsible for issuing permits for proposed feedlot expansions.
Sheriff deputies reported that five John Deere tractors were destroyed Dec. 31 in a fire on the north side of Prairie Lake, north of Pelican Rapids. The location was close to 450th Street and the time of the fire was 11:41 a.m. "Our office and first responders received a report of a shed on fire. The owner had a tractor block heater plugged in and when he went outside to start a tractor he noticed flames," said County Sheriff Administrative Lt. Keith Van Dyke. Attempts to get other tractors out of the shed were unsuccessful and the fire consumed the shed.
The year 2018 will be very special for Otter Tail County as residents celebrate the county's 150th anniversary, dating back to 1868. An exhibit will open on Feb. 9 at the Otter Tail County museum (historical society) on the west side of Fergus Falls. The first group of non-Native American settlers, Cutlerites, came to Clitherall Lake in the spring of 1865 to become permanent settlers. About 35 men, women and children made the trip from Manti, Iowa, on May 6. A second group arrived on July 31.
Otter Tail County commissioners have responded to opposition to proposed wind and solar projects in Scambler and Dunn townships, north of Pelican Rapids. Commissioners expressed disappointment in seeing opposition to the projects from townships, lake property owners and lake associations. The concerns of county board members will be addressed by the County Public Works Committee.
A Perham area resident was scammed and lost $9,000, thinking there would be a large inheritance. Sheriff deputies on Dec. 29 said they have suspects in mind. Authorities warn residents of Otter Tail County to beware of people who contact you posing as attorneys or banking personnel, saying you are entitled to a large inheritance from a distant relative or wealthy individual. A county resident could be provided with fake bank statements, birth certificates and other fake documents if one questions the legitimacy of the offer.
Sheriff deputies again warn county residents not to fall for what's widely known as "the grandparent scam." The potential scam starts when a caller calls a county resident to say his or her grandchild is in trouble, and possibly in jail," says County Sheriff Administrative Lt. Keith Van Dyke. "The next thing the caller says is that your grandchild needs money. This should raise a red flag," says Van Dyke. Because most grandparents have tender hearts when it comes to their beloved grandchildren, a first tendency is to help.
Residents of Otter Tail County, and those who live farther away, can and should take advantage of winter travels to Maplewood State Park east of Pelican Rapids and to Glendalough State Park northeast of Battle Lake. The trips are well worth it, whether it's just for drives through these state parks to admire winter beauty or stopping to take part in many winter activities. These locations are popular for hikers, cross-country skiers and others.