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LAKES RADIO FIRST NEWS
City Refuse Truck Down
The City of Fergus Falls has a refuse truck down which is affecting refuse and recycling routes the remainder of this week and possibly next week. Some of the routes will be picked up at normal times, while others will be picked up beginning extra early in the morning.
COMMERCIAL recycling will be picked up from midnight throughout the night. Garbage should be picked up at normal times. The City Of Fergus Falls asks for your cooperation and patience while they are awaiting the repair.
Missing Naytahwaush Woman
Mahnomen County authorities are asking for the public’s help in locating a missing Naytahwaush woman.
Twenty-five-year-old Leslie Wakemup was last seen on Sunday, September 27th, by friends. She is described as five feet, five inches tall, 165 pounds, brown eyes and dark hair.
An aerial and ground search was conducted on September 30th in southern Clearwater County where she was last seen.
Several agencies have been looking for Wakemup since September 27th as a person of interest in a theft in Clearwater County.
Anyone with information about Wakemup’s location is asked to call the Mahnomen County Sheriff’s Office.
Fake Bomb Update
The Detroit Lakes Police Department has identified and interviewed several individuals involved with the incident Thursday morning with a suspected explosive device in People’s Park. Chief Tim Eggebraaten says several tips came in from multiple sources and detectives followed up on the leads. He says they have identified the primary individuals responsible for making the device and for displaying the device in the park. Some of the suspects are juveniles and some are adults.
Eggebraaten says the department does not feel that the individuals involved are any threat to the general public so they were released after making voluntary statements.
Reports will be forwarded to the Becker County Sheriff’s Office and the City Attorney’s Office for possible charges.
Bus Driver Dies
The Kindred school bus driver who had both of her legs amputated after a crash last friday has died from her injuries. Cathy Jostad's daughter, Lisa, posted on her Caringbridge site saying, "Sadly after a courageous fight mom passed away today shortly after midnight. Words cannot express how much everyone's support has meant to us. Funeral arrangements will be made with Boulger Funeral Home in Fargo". Jostad was driving a bus involved in a crash with several semis on a foggy highway near Kindred. She was the only one seriously hurt. Family and friends say Jostad put her life on the line to protect more than 30 Fourth Graders on the bus.
Great Plains Rate Request
Great Plains Natural Gas has filed a rate increase request with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. If approved, it would increase a residential customer’s monthly bill by an average of about $3 per month for customers in the north district and about $5.25 per month for customers in the south district.
Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids, Vergas and Breckenridge are in the north district. Great Plains is proposing to combine the north and south rate districts as part of the rate case.
The company’s last rate increase was an overall 1.3 percent increase in January, 2007. The PUC has up to 10 months to issue a decision on Great Plains’ request.
County 111 Burglary
A Fergus Falls resident notified police Wednesday that a burglary at his residence three to four weeks ago.
The theft occurred from a storage shed on the property in the 1600 block of County Highway 111. An oak table and four chairs valued at $700 were taken.
The owner says about three to four weeks ago, he unlocked the shed and went to do errands. He locked the shed upon his return, not knowing that the table and chairs were missing. There are no suspects.
Beech Avenue Theft
A Fergus Falls resident in the 400 block of East Beech Avenue reported to police that a 42” Vizio TV and a Roads microphone were stolen from his residence on September 28th.
The TV is valued at $500. The microphone is valued at $2,000. Police do have a suspect, someone who had been at the residence that day.
Remodeled Home Burglary
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft of several items from a construction site southeast of New York Mills.
Sometime between September 21st and the 23rd, numerous construction-related power tools were taken from a home being remodeled including: saws, nailers, planers, and routers.
The exact value hasn’t been determined.
A man shot by a Fargo Police officer at the conclusion of a brief chase early Monday morning has been charged. Charges against 31 year-old Karmen Redshirt of Bismarck include terrorizing and theft. Redshirt was shot by Patrol Officer Patrick Thomas in a parking lot near the 13th avenue Walmart. A woman who was with Redshirt was charged with refusing to stop for police. Both ran from the car when it was stopped. Redshirt, who had a B-B gun that looked like a regular handgun, remains in a Fargo hospital. Officer Thomas fired three shots.
Chase and Arrest
A 16-year-old Alexandria boy is in custody after running from Fergus Falls police early this morning.
Police say they received driving complaints from semi operators on Interstate 94 and were told the suspect vehicle turned off on Otter Tail County Road One.
Police found the suspect vehicle traveling eastbound on Alcott Avenue from the roundabout and reportedly noticed the erratic driving. When police tried to pull over the suspect, a chase reaching 90 miles per hour ensued. The vehicle crashed into a house in the 1100 block of South Mill Street and the driver fled on foot.
A K-9 unit was brought to the scene but could not locate the suspect. Shortly before 6:00 am, the suspect was reportedly at the Holiday Gas Station. But he fled again before police arrived.
Police continued checking the area and at about 7:30 am, he was spotted in the 500 block of Cavour Avenue between two houses. A foot pursuit began and the suspect was found hiding in a porta potty at the corner of Broadway and Summit.
He was taken into custody on probable cause charges of fleeing in a motor vehicle, fleeing on foot, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle crash and criminal damage to property.
The boy’s mother has been contacted. The suspect’s vehicle was identified as belonging to a Sauk Centre resident. The suspect will be taken to the Moorhead Juvenile Detention Facility and is expected to appear in Otter Tail County District Court Wednesday.
If the vehicle is found to have been stolen, the youth is expected to be charged with an additional crime.
Fergus Falls Man Killed In Friday Crash
The Todd County Sheriff’s Office received a call at approximately 5pm on Friday of a two-car collision. Johnny Peasley Jr. was driving west on Todd County Road 63, crossing Todd County Road 21 to continue on County Road 20. Peasley was broadsided by Lavonne Vanzee, 68, of Willmar, authorities said. Both drivers were taken to Long Prairie Hospital. Vanzee was transported by helicopter to Hennepin County Medical Center for continued treatment. Peasley was pronounced dead at Long Prairie Hospital. Both vehicles were a total loss. Browerville Ambulance, Browerville Fire/Rescue, Long Prairie Ambulance, and the Minnesota State Patrol assisted at the scene.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner has ruled that a Fergus Falls man who was shot by police officers early Sunday morning actually died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Fifty-two-year-old Richard David Blondeau was sought by authorities after he fired three shots at his estranged wife’s vehicle on Interstate 94, striking it at least twice.
Law enforcement tracked Blondeau to a field northwest of Fergus Falls. When confronted, he pointed a shotgun at Fergus Falls police officers, forcing three of them to fire at Blondeau. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Four Fergus Falls police officers were placed on administrative leave. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the shooting. The sheriff’s office is investigating the incident which led up to the police shooting.
Wadena Drug Arrests
Several people are in custody in Wadena County on drug charges following actions Friday.
The West Central Drug and Violent Offenders Task Force have been investigating individuals at a residence on Wadena’s west side who have been involved in methamphetamine sales and use. In connection with the residence, a vehicle was stopped on September 25th in Wadena and Jared Schwab was arrested for fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance.
A short while later, deputies and officers executed a search warrant at the residence. They found about eight grams of methamphetamine and six grams of marijuana. Pedro Guevara Junior of Wadena was arrested for second-degree possession of a controlled substance and third-degree possession of a controlled substance in a school zone. Heidi Ann Brunkow of Wadena was arrested for two counts of third-degree possession in a school zone. And Paul Harne of Wadena was arrested on an outstanding warrant. Those arrested are jailed awaiting formal charges.
Fergus Falls School Board Approves Levy
The Fergus Falls School Board adopted the initial maximum levy which was approved in a voter approved referendum. Business Manager Mark Masten explained how the taxes will go up due in part to property vaules increasing.A public meeting will be held on December 14th at 6pm on the finalized version of the proprty tax levy.
In other board news, Debra Danielson, a longtime para with the district submitted her resignation, to be effective October 5th.
Local Option Sales Tax To Be Implemented For Road Improvements
A Local Option Sales Tax to help pay for road improvements in the county was given final approval last Tuesday by the Otter Tail County Board Of Commissioners. It is a ½ cent sales tax that will be assessed, along with a wheelage tax that has already been implemented.
Although at this point it is a 10 year plan, West said the tax would be in effect until all the needed projects are completed. The entire plan is available on the county website for residents to view.
Star Lake Casino
Shooting Star Casino is expanding. The White Earth Tribal Council has confirmed that it plans a third casino on star lake in Otter Tail County near Dent, Minnesota. Construction is scheduled to get underway next year with work completed in 2017. Shooting Star General Manager Bill Marsh says the casino should attact people from the southern part of the region who have no closer gambling and entertainment options. The casino-complex will also feature a gift shop, deli, hotel and R-V park. Some people living near the planned casino say they're concerned about increased traffic and other issues the development may bring. The Tribe already owns a casino in Mahnomen and is building another casino near Bagley, Minnesota
Roughly 70 percent of the septic systems in Foxhome are non-compliant. And that is leading city officials to explore ways to handle the city’s wastewater.
One proposal, the apparently cheapest alternative for residents, would be to pump Foxhome’s wastewater eight miles to Fergus Falls.
Senior Project Manager Joel Paulsen of Bolton & Menk, Inc. of Fargo. Paulsen says other alternatives would be have individual households put in new mound-type septic tanks, the city construct a centralized lagoon system or the city construct a treatment plant. All three of those are expensive.
For Fergus Falls’ part, their staff will work with Bolton & Menk to provide costs the city would charge. Then funding agencies would be approached with the preliminary design. If the connection to Fergus Falls is recommended, work could begin next summer to contruct a holding area in Foxhome and lay the piping along Highway 210.
New LRHC COO
Lake Region Healthcare has announced a new Chief Operating Officer. She is Lucia Anderson, who also has the role of Chief Nursing Officer.
Anderson has served as the Senior Vice President of Operations and Chief Nurse Executive since 1999. She has served as an LPN and RN on the medical floor, RN in obstetrics, house supervisor, and Director of OB. Anderson is a certified nurse in in-patient obstetrics. She received her LPN degree from M-State, her BSN from Minnesota State University and her MBA from the University of St. Thomas.
Lake Region Healthcare CEO Larry Schulz says Anderson has demonstrated the leadership qualities needed to manage the operational systems at Lake Region. He says her experience in patient care, quality improvement, and systems development are a great fit for the operational leadership needed within the executive team.
Anderson says Lake Region Healthcare has an exceptional team committed to helping people in the region improve their health. She says, “I consider it an honor and a calling to accept this leadership position in an organization that is so passionately committed to developing the workforce and partnerships and making the investments needed to build a healthier community.”
Property Fraud Alert Update
A program recently offered by the Otter Tail County Recorder’s Office appears to be working as planned.
Recorder Carol Schmaltz says the Property Fraud Alert System notifies people who sign up when property transactions with their names on them are made in the recorder’s office.
Schmaltz says people who have already signed up for the fraud alerts are calling her to say the system works as advertised.
Schmaltz says according to the FBI, property fraud is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes in the U.S.
To sign up, you can go to the Otter Tail County Recorder’s Office website or call the toll free number 1-800-728-3858.
Honor Rewards Program
The Otter Tail County Recorder’s Office is out with another new internet-enabled program. The program, called “Honor Rewards,” seeks to connect veterans to businesses willing to offer special veteran discounts.
Recorder Carol Schmaltz says interested businesses and veterans can go to the same website to register. It’s HonorRewards.com.
Schmaltz says the registration process takes just minutes. The program is for all veterans, regardless of location. Otter Tail is the third county in Minnesota and the only one in this area to offer the program. If you need more information, you’re asked to call the Otter Tail County Recorder’s Office.
Highway 108 Detour
The Highway 108 detour between Pelican Rapids and Dent is scheduled to be lifted today. That also means the Highway 108 detour between Ottertail and Henning will be today.
Crews will replace four culverts within the north-south section of Highway 108 north of Henning. Traffic will detour to County Road 52 and County Road 67.
Residents who live within the road closure will be allowed to use Highway 108 during the project. However, the road may be impassable while individual culverts are replaced.
Library Work Sessions
At least two Fergus Falls City Council members say they’ve had many calls from constituents with concerns about the price of a new public library. And they’re concerned enough that the council put the brakes on the plan for 60 days so they can try to alleviate those concerns.
Alderman Rod Spidahl says the project’s almost $10 million cost is a deal-breaker for some of his constituents.
The council will use upcoming work sessions to explore all the ways to pay for the library and even make sure the site chosen is the best choice.
Right now, the project cost is pegged at $9.9 million. Since the local option sales tax that’s paying for the community ice arena will be done at the end of 2016, a new half-cent sales tax could be implemented to pay for the library. However, that plan would need a public vote, and then the Minnesota legislature would need to sign off.
Work sessions to discuss the library project will be held on September 28th, October 12th and October 26th. They’ll be held at the library and are open to the public.
Fergus Falls City Administrator Mark Sievert resigned from his job at Monday night’s city council meeting.
The council held a closed door session and reopened the meeting to announce that council members and Sievert had signed a separation agreement.
As part of the separation agreement, both sides agreed to not make disparaging statements about the separation.
Sievert says he’s exploring other employment opportunities, but did not offer specifics.
He has been with the city since 2000. His last day on the job is December 31st. The agreement puts Sievert on paid leave from January 1st through his final employment date of March 31st.
Highway 108 Detour
Motorists on Highway 108 between Ottertail and Henning will encounter a two-week detour when culvert replacement work begins this week. The work will not begin until crews lift the detour on Highway 108 between Dent and Pelican Rapids. That could happen as soon as today. Crews will replace four culverts within the north-south section of Highway 108 north of Henning. Traffic will detour to County Road 52 and County Road 67.
Residents who live within the road closure will be allowed to use Highway 108 during the project. However, the road may be impassable while individual culverts are replaced.
Roadside Salvage Burglary
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a reported burglary at Roadside Salvage south of Erhard on Highway 59.
Suspects broke a window to gain entrance and went into the office area. About $400 in cash was taken.
The burglary happened Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office.
Trevola Construction Theft
A theft was reported southwest of New York Mills Thursday evening. Ken Trevola Construction reported to the sheriff’s office that five construction ladders were stolen overnight Wednesday.
The value of the ladders is $500. There are no suspects.
A 53-year-old Fergus Falls man was arrested late Thursday morning for driving drunk on his lawn tractor on downtown sidewalks.
Darrel Eugene Olson was seen driving his tractor on a Washington Avenue sidewalk. After leaving the liquor store, he pulled into Holiday gas station.
He was arrested for first-degree DWI and Driving After Cancellation – Inimical to Public Safety.
His lawn tractor was impounded.
New Teacher Requirements May Affect Smaller Districts Like Fergus Falls
Local school districts including Fergus Falls are closely looking at new regulations for what are referred to as "concurrent enrollment classes", or basically college level courses taught in high schools that allow students to receive dual credit. The Higher Learning Commission adopted a policy in June requiring those instructors who teach these types of courses to hold a master's degree in their area of instruction or in another area, plus 18 graduate level credits in their area of instruction. Superintendent Jerry Ness says they are keeping an eye on the situation at last night's board meeting.
Critics of the new regulations say it would hurt smaller districts, and also could force districts like Fergus Falls or the teachers themselves to have to finance additional education costs. The Higher Learning Commission represents 19 states including Minnesota and accredits many of the state's colleges.
Area School Enrollment
School districts in Otter Tail County seem to be doing pretty well with this year’s enrollment figures compared to last year.
The Underwood School District reports 602 students for their 2015-15 school year enrollment. That’s 17 more students than last school year.
The Henning School District reports an opening enrollment of 399. That’s 19 more students than last year.
The West Central Area District reports an opening enrollment of 724, up five from last year.
New York Mills reports an opening K-12 enrollment of 741. That’s 46 more than last year.
Perham/Dent School District had 1,416 students at the start of this year, 56 more than the start of last year and 71 more compared to the end of last year.
Rothsay School District will put their new school to good use. Their enrollment this fall is 291, 25 more students than last year.
Pelican Rapids School District
Parker’s Prairie School District shows an increase in enrollment from last year. This year, enrollment is at 555, 36 more students than last school year.
As we reported earlier, the Fergus Falls School District enrollment this year is at 2,697, 52 more than at this time last year.
Fergus Falls Budget
The City of Fergus Falls’ proposed 2016 budget calls for a half million dollar levy increase from 2015, or 10.52 percent. The levy proposal calls for a 2016 levy of $5.4 million. Increases show up in the general fund, library fund and tax abatement fund.
The increase from last year, if the budget isn’t changed before final approval, will mean a 7.67 percent increase to city taxpayers.
While the tax levy committee still has another meeting before city council action, those numbers aren’t expected to change much. Alderman Rod Spidahl says the council needs to keep in mind the overall impact to taxpayers. As proposed, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an extra $29 next year. The owner of a $200,000 home would pay an extra $73. The owner of a $1 million business would pay an extra $782, while the owner of a $2 million business would pay $1,595 more.
Final action on the budget is expected at the council’s September 21 meeting.
County Sales Tax
Only a few people testified to the Otter Tail County Board Tuesday during a hearing on a proposed local option sales tax the board is considering to pay for future road maintenance projects.
One member of the public was all for the half cent sales tax, feeling that it was the best option for raising money for county road repairs. An Erhard resident, Dean Nelson, said he’d rather see a gasoline tax than a sales tax. He says the two businesses he owns would be negatively affected by a sales tax, causing customers to shop elsewhere.
Les Duenow of Fergus Falls says visitors to the county will purposely not shop and pay the extra sales tax, which leaves the burden on captive residents.
The sales tax, if eventually approved, would raise an estimated $4.3 million a year. Items to be taxed include what’s already taxable by the state.
The county board has decided they’ll vote on the tax at their September 22nd meeting.
A legendary area radio broadcaster will be inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame on Saturday, September 12th. Odis “Oats” LeGrand, in his 40 years of broadcasting, called more than 4,400 lakes area sporting events on four different Fergus Falls radio stations: KGDE, KOTE, KBRF AND KJJK. When he started in 1952, at age 36, he was paid $2.50 per game.
In 1978, he was named the Minnesota Sportscaster of the Year. In 1985, Sports Illustrated recognized him as the “Voice of Small Town America.”
He called his last game on his 77th birthday on September 2, 1993. Governor Arne Carlson proclaimed it “Odis ‘Oats’ LeGrand Day.” Odis LeGrand passed away August 28, 2012, just five days shy of his 96th birthday. The public is invited to attend the ceremony at the Sheraton West Hotel in Minnetonka. Tickets are $150 each, $100 of which is a tax-deductible donation to the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office will be hosting its annual Citizens Academy on Wednesday evenings from October 14th to December 9th. The academy consists of eight sessions ranging from 2.5 to 3 hours. Each session will have representatives presenting from various departments and specialty units.