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Special Angling Regulations
Angling regulations will change on nearly three dozen Minnesota waters this year. Some regulations for area lakes include:
On Clitherall Lake in Otter Tail County, smallmouth bass will have 14 to 20 inch protected slot limit with one longer than 20 inches allowed in a possession of six. This replaces the catch and release regulation that has been in place for the last 10 years.
On Sewell Lake in Otter Tail County, the regulation for largemouth and smallmouth basds has also been changed to a 14 to 20 inch protected slot limit. This replaces the 12 to 20 inch protected slot limit.
Both of the Otter Tail County lakes have quality populations of bass but managers believe these lakes can sustain quality fish while allowing additional harvest for bass shorter than 14 inches.
Star Lake in Otter Tail County has had experimental or temporary emergency regulations in place that will become permanent special regulations. The reduced bag limit of 10 sunfish has shown to have effectively maintained a quality population of sunfish.
Special or experimental regulations will be dropped on three area lakes and return to statewide waters regulations. Regulation objectives for improving northern pike in Big Birch Lake in Todd county; walleye and sunfish in Cottonwood Lake in Grant County were not achieved, so special or experimental restrictions will be lifted. For similar reasons, on Jewett and Pickeral lakes in Otter Tail County, bass regulations will return to statewide limits.

Habitat for Humanity Home Sale
The Fergus Falls Finance and Personnel Committee is recommending the city sell city-owned land to Habitat for Humanity.
City Finance Director Bill Sonmor says the property at 225 W. Bancroft Ave is city owned.
Sonmor says state law would allow the city to sell the property to Habitat for Humanity for $1.00. In return, Habitat for Humanity would build a single family home.
The city bought the home for $15,000. When demolition and cleanup is added in, the total was $28,582. The city would make back that money over time in taxes and city services.
City Charter requires two city council meetings before such a sale can take place. 

Pop Up Parks
If the four-county Partnership 4 Health is lucky and lands a $20,000 grant through Blue Cross/Blue Shield, some summer activities in Fergus Falls, Breckenridge and Detroit Lakes may include “Pop Up Parks.”
Patrick Hollister of Partnership 4 Health says “Pop Up Parks” have been popular in some downtown areas, where a temporary small park is manufactured in the horizontal parking lane along sidewalks. He told the Fergus Falls Finance and Personnel Committee that projects like that fall under the term “tactical urbanism”.
Hollister says the grants are supposed to be used to promote exercise and physical activity by making urban spaces more attractive for biking and walking.
The grant application is due February 11th. Hollister asked the committee to make a recommendation to the city council to offer a letter of support to be included with the application. The motion was approved and will be on the council’s next agenda.

Labor Day School Start
School in Fergus Falls may start before Labor Day. A resolution was passed by the Fergus Falls School Board that would allow all schools within the district to start on September 1st. The reasoning behind the early start is two-fold according to Superintendent Jerry Ness:
"There's a double whammy with Labor Day being really, really late. So we can't start school until September 8th. That really puts a crimp into our calendar. The other thing that's happening is the state football, or football period, has to be started a week earlier, and so our activities are starting a week earlier, so if we're not allowed to start after Labor Day, we could have up to 3 football games before school even starts."
Since the school board's resolution passed, the legislature would need to vote to give the district a one time, one year waiver. The district is working with State Representative Bud Nornes to assist in the waiver process. Ness also says that they may not know for a couple more months if it will be granted. In the meantime, the district is looking at having two tentative calendars for the upcoming school year. 
Also, in what is becoming an annual process, the board approved a resolution directing the administration to make reductions in programs and positions due to declining enrollment. 
The board also approved a resolution to apply for a $20,000 grant that would give the district the needed funding to upgrade and improve their security cameras and infrastructure.

Dog Rescued
Elizabeth Fire and Rescue came to the aid of man’s best friend at 10:41 am Sunday.
A gold-colored short-hair, medium size dog was in the Otter Tail River about one mile west of Schmidt’s Bridge, and was unable to crawl back on the ice.
The firefighters went out onto the ice and were able to pull the dog out of the water and to safety.
The dog belonged to a man who lives across the river from where the dog went into. No one was injured. The dog appeared fine after the rescue.

Bucket Theft
A Pelican Rapids resident contacted the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office to report that the bucket from a Bobcat Skidsteer Loader was stolen. The theft took place about nine p-m Friday. The bucket was taken from an area along Highway 108 just east of the Pelican Rapids city limits. The value of the bucket is estimated at $800.

Tires Slashed
Vandalism to a car was reported to Fergus Falls police Saturday morning in the 500 block of West Douglas Avenue.
The caller reported that sometime between 8 pm Friday and 7:45 am Saturday, someone slashed the driver and passenger tires on a Pontiac Bonneville.
Damage is estimated at $200. No one has been arrested or cited for the damage.

Klieman Contract Extension

Disaster Assistance
A flood aid package meant to assist more than half of Minnesota counties hit with severe flooding cleared the Minnesota Senate on Thursday. By a 65-0 vote, the Senate approved a bill providing $17 million in state assistance for cleanup and recovery costs stemming from June storms. The House is on course to vote on the companion bill Monday.
Forty-seven counties and three tribal governments were covered by a federal disaster declaration. While the federal government picks up 75 percent of the tab, the state usually foots the remaining bill. The state is also helping some counties left off the federal list.
Area counties included in the new legislation are: Grant, Todd, Wadena and West Otter Tail.
Part of the bill’s cost is a $3 million allotment to fix local roadways that weren’t covered by the federal order.

Local Physician Recommends Vaccination To Prevent Spread Of Measles

With recent news continuing to pour in of a measles outbreak at Disneyland, questions are being raised as to why there is resistance to getting children immunized. There aren't reported cases regionally yet, but Lake Region Healthcare's Dr. Jerry Handel says the biggest way to prevent measles is to just get immunized, and that a lot of the recent headlines are from segments of the population that did not:
"First off 75 percent of these people that come down with measles are un-immunized. There are a bunch of people who are against the immunizations for one reason or another, the biggest reason is they're afraid of autism. Someone in England, 15 years ago I think it was, did a study claiming that autism was increased in the kids who had the MMR shot, no one else was able to re-produce that data."
Measles was considered eliminated in the United States in 2000, though 2014 saw a record-breaking number of confirmed cases: 644 from 27 states, according to the CDC.

Moorhead Knife Attack Reported
Attempted murder charges are pending against a man following a knife attack Thursday at a home in Moorhead.

Police say 29-year-old Brandon Bush broke into his ex-girlfriend's residence and attacked a man while the victim was asleep in bed.

Lt. Tory Jacobson says police were contacted by hospital employees after the victim showed up at the emergency room.

Jacobson says Bush refused to allow the victim or the female to leave the residence for several hours.Bush was later arrested at a Moorhead motel.

Fergus Falls Burglary
A Fergus Falls resident reported to police Wednesday that someone stole a Stanley Max Tool Box from the front porch of his home.
The theft reportedly happened overnight Tuesday. The tool box contained many flooring and tiling hand tools valued at $400 to $500.

Hurley Appointed to Council
The Fergus Falls City Council appointed Wayne Hurley to fill the vacant third ward council seat of former council member Tim Rundquist.In a straw poll last night following presentations by six candidates for the position, the 41-year-old Hurley received the five council votes needed to get the nod.Hurley says he’s excited to provide input into the process of developing the regional treatment center. That’s one of three big issues he wants on his plate.Hurley says he probably would have run for the third-ward seat in last November’s election, if not for work demands at West Central Initiative, where he’s the planning director.He has been active in local government, serving boards for the historical society, planning commission, heritage preservation, Pedal Fergus Falls, Friends of the Kirkbride, school facilities committee and Safe Routes to School.

Parker’s Prairie Fire
A fire early this (Wednesday) morning caused exterior damage to a home east of Parker’s Prairie near Augusta Lake.
The fire, on county road 46, was called in by Nicole Dibley. She told authorities a resident in a basement bedroom awoke about 4:30 am to see sparks that looked like the Fourth of July outside the bedroom window.
Parker’s Prairie Fire Chief Joe Simonson says when his department arrived, the rental home’s occupants were standing outside on the deck. He says a father, his daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend live there. Simonson says the flames were centered next to the basement window.
There was extensive damage to the south wall of the home before Parker’s Prairie firefighters arrived an extinguished the blaze. The cause of the fire hasn’t been established. Simonson says the state fire marshal’s office has already investigated but has not reported findings to him.
No one was injured. The house was still habitable. 

AIS Testing
Beginning in July, a new boat trailer decal law goes into effect that will require anyone who trailers a boat or water-related equipment like docks or lifts, to pass a test on aquatic invasive species and place a decal on each trailer.
April Rust, DNR Aquatic Invasive Species Training Coordinator, says the test can be taken through the mail or on-line. It’s a 10-question quiz that you can pass by correctly answering at least seven questions.
On-line training is expected to be available this month. But it might be wise to hold off getting that done for now. The legislature may be having second thoughts. State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen says the DNR’s testing plan shook everyone up and made many lawmakers angry.
Ingebrigtsen says if the law isn’t totally repealed, it will at least be left more workable and less onerous.

Mental Health Care
A roundtable discussion Thursday in Fergus Falls explored the need for more mental health services in Minnesota.
Commissioner Lucinda Jessen of the Minnesota Department of Human Services says she learned that are mental health providers are doing a good job with mobile crisis teams, providers and collaborative.
The Department of Human Services says one in four adults and one in five children will experience a mental illness in a given year. But 70 to 90 percent of those who receive treatment for serious mental illness have a significant reduction of symptoms and improvement in their quality of life.

Second Home Study
A University of Minnesota Extension Service study shows that Otter Tail and Douglas and a few other Minnesota counties should prepare for an influx of new permanent residents in the next decade.
The extension service study of 573 second homeowners using a random sample shows that the social and economic impacts of second homeowners are significant, and their impact on Greater Minnesota’s civic and economic life could increase as they become permanent residents.
Regional Extension Educator Ryan Pesch says 56 percent of survey respondents said they plan to transition permanently to their second home in the future, bringing their skills and resources that could create a civic boon…  :19
“In Otter Tail, something like 26% of all the homes here in the county are second homes. If you have about half of those people looking to move here permanently, that’s a big influx of new people. And so it’s going to have a big impact on our communities – new folks, new wealth, new talent.”
The study asked second homeowners which issues most concern them. The quality of water and other natural resources held the most significant importance. When asked to rank amenities and services in their second homes, internet service received the poorest ranking.