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Community Mourns Loss Of Local Business Leader Dennis Tuel Sr
Fergus Falls and Otter Tail County are remembering the life and accomplishments of prominent local business leader Dennis Tuel Sr.
In addition to starting Shoremaster from the ground up, he was involved in so many other enterprises. Former Economic Development Director Harold Stanislawski told us how great his impact was on the economy of Fergus Falls as well as his attitude toward people and business…

Former Economic Development Director Harold Stanislawski:

“It wasn’t just Shoremaster, he was involved in wind turbines, he became one of the biggest bison producers of buffalo meat in Minnesota and he was very much a leader in those areas as well. A very warm personable fellow that put you at ease right away and a very entrepreneurial man that kind of in many ways ‘boot-strapped’ his way to success and he wanted to bring that ‘boot-strapping’ type of mentality and share it with others and it was very gratifying to know him."

Tuel was born in a log cabin in 1935 near Vining and grew up on the family farm in the Brandon/Evansville area. One motto that stayed with him was: “He who does not plan ahead will remain behind.” He joined the National Guard at age 17 with the goal of a college education. Along the way, he developed a passion for aviation and pursued his natural gift of salesmanship.
Memorials are preferred to the Leukemia Research Foundation or 544 Foundation. A Memorial Service is scheduled for Tuesday April 28th.

LRH's Move It To Maui Winners Announced

Lake Region Healthcare’s Move It to Maui participants surpassed the original goal by more than 150,000 minutes. Beginning Jan. 30, LRH challenged the community to move a collective 1 million minutes in 12 weeks. More than 570 participants moved a collective 1,158,282 minutes between Jan. 30 and April 23.
Since the goal was met, a trip for two to Maui was given away at the commencement of the event held last night at the Health Expo at M State. Jody Pederson of Underwood was the lucky winner. She logged over 2,500 minutes of walking during the challenge after what she called “a change in her lifestyle to become healthier” that started last October. Pederson said she has never been to Hawaii, but it’s on her bucket list.
The winner’s name was drawn at random from all participants. In addition to the trip, FitBits were won by Dory Knutson, Katie Hennen and Mariah Seidel and a Service Food Fresh Produce Gift Certificate went to Ione Hanson. Participants were also given rewards for reaching 500 minutes, 1,000 minutes, 1,500 minutes and 2,000 minutes throughout the course of the event.
“The success of our second community health challenge is so encouraging. We hoped to repeat and build on the success of last year’s Walk to Waikiki and are thrilled that the community pulled together to do just that ,” Larry Schulz, CEO of LRH, said. “It speaks great lengths to our community as a whole and the value we put in living healthy and active lifestyles.”
The event was created to get people moving during the cold winter months as part of Lake Region Healthcare’s Community Wellness initiative. Participants recorded minutes weekly and the total was reported weekly to registrants through email, social media and on the LRH website. Group exercise activities were also offered throughout the challenge for free in partnership with community health & wellness businesses and organizations.
The final totals and grand prize winner were announced at the Community Health Expo held on April 23. For more information on Move It to Maui, please visit

Distracted Driving Enforcement
While many traffic stops were made in Otter Tail County during the recent distracted driving enforcement effort, only a handful of drivers were caught on their cell phone or texting.
And that’s not surprising to Sgt. Jesse Grabow of the State Patrol, who says distracted driving is hard to witness unless a vehicle is swerving around in the roadway. But he says people were caught texting while driving. There was even a case of a driver face timing while driving, or conversing visually with another.
Still, Grabow says it was never about racking up a large amount of distracted driving tickets.
Grabow says some preliminary information about the special enforcement results could come as early as Friday.
But he says safe driving is extremely easy if you remember four basics: pay attention, slow down, don’t drink and drive and wear your seatbelt.

House Democrats Education Plan
Minnesota House Democrats are outlining their education plan today. Democrats want to spend $800 million of the state’s $2 billion surplus on education. The Republican proposal is for $157 million.
While House Republicans want to increase per pupil funding by $66 per pupil per year of the biennium, House Democrats want to increase spending $234 per pupil per year.
State Representative Paul Marquart of Glyndon says there are benefits with the level of spending Democrats are calling for.
One other comparison of Democrat and Republican Education plans is that democrats want to spend $174 million on early education, while republicans wants to spend $44 million.
In addition, the democrats’ plan would spend $39 million for special education, $20 million for teacher development and $63 million for rural school buildings.
Republicans say that the state surplus is money from Minnesota residents and businesses, and that as much of their money as possible should be returned to them, rather than spending it all.

Franson – House Transportation Bill
Following more than seven hours of debate Tuesday night, the Minnesota House passed its first budget bill of the 2015 session. The omnibus Transportation Finance bill would allocate $7 billion over the next 10 years for a number of road and bridge projects across the state.
State Representative Mary Franson of Alexandria says many people drive long distances to get to their destinations. She says they can’t afford to pay more in gasoline taxes as Governor Dayton has suggested in his transportation plan. She says the republican proposal gets the job done without raising taxes.
The republican plan would fund more than 15,000 lane miles of highway repairs or re-building projects, more than 300 bridge projects – new and repaired – provide county state-aid highway funds and add a new small cities transportation aid program for cities of less than 5,000 population.

Butler Charged
A Fergus Falls man has been charged in Otter Tail County District Court with a fifth-degree controlled substance crime.
Thirty-six-year-old Brandon David Butler was pulled over on April 20th for having a missing headlight on his vehicle. He was found to be in possession of methamphetamine.
Bond without conditions was set at $25,000. Bail is $2,500 cash. Bond with conditions is $20,000 and bail is $2,000 cash.

Jorgenson Charged
A woman arrested in Erhard on an Otter Tail County warrant April 20th faces additional charges.
Twenty-two-year-old Kayla Dawn Jorgenson, formerly of Breezy Point, was wanted for failure to appear on a charge of financial transaction card fraud. She allegedly had used her mother’s credit card to rack up $522 of purchases at various Fergus Falls businesses.
While being arrested on the warrant, authorities allegedly found drugs. She is now charged with three counts of fifth-degree controlled substance crime. Authorities allegedly found methamphetamine, Adderall and alprazolam.
Jorgenson was appointed a public defender. Bail and bond are set at $25,000 without conditions of release or $10,000 bond or $2,500 cash with conditions.

Hussein Charged
An Elizabeth man has been charged in Otter Tail County District Court with receiving stolen property and a fifth-degree controlled substance crime.
Twenty-four-year-old Abshir Mohamed Hussein is accused, along with two other Somali men, of robbing a Fergus Falls man at gunpoint and of stealing the victim’s shotgun on April 9th.
While investigating, authorities armed with a search warrant, discovered a marijuana growing operation at Hussein’s home.

Maki First Court Appearance
A teacher in the Wadena/Deer Creek school system made his first appearance in Otter Tail County District Court on a charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, involving a student.
Fifty-seven-year-old Brian Kenneth Maki is accused of touching the female student under her clothing at his residence April 16th. According to a court complaint, Maki had offered the victim a job cleaning cabins for him. But when she showed up at his home, she was told the job no longer existed, because he had sold his portion of the business. He allegedly insinuated there were other ways she could make some money before touching her.
Maki, according to the complaint, has been a social studies teacher with the district for 22 years. Wadena Superintendent Lee Westrum says the district will do its own investigation of the complaint. Meanwhile, they’ve placed Maki on administrative leave with pay.
Judge Barbara Hanson set bond without conditions without conditions at $25,000 and cash bail at $2,500. With conditions, bond is $20,000 and bail is $2,000. Conditions are that he have no contact with the victim, individuals under 18 years old or vulnerable adults. He is allowed supervised contact with family members.
An omnibus hearing is set for June 8th.

RTC Negotiations Update
Negotiations between Fergus Falls and the Historic Kirkbride development group continue advancing. A report by city council member Anthony Hicks last night was that Historic Kirkbride will get some additional information to the city by the end of this week. The developer’s negotiating team will make an additional visit to Fergus Falls and are hoping to wrap up negotiations by the end of May.

Jim Fish Ward Change
What happens when a Fergus Falls city councilman moves out of the ward he represents into a new ward, still in the city? That question was answered at last night’s city council meeting in reference to Ward Two alderman Jim Fish. Even though Fish has moved into a different ward, city charter allows him to continue representing his original ward until his term is up in January, 2017. Then, if he wants to run for re-election, it would be in the ward he currently lives in.

Drug Overdose
An unidentified Fergus Falls man was lucky. He was unconscious and not breathing due to a drug overdose when authorities were called to a residence in the 600 block of West Cavour Avenue shortly before 2:30 Sunday morning. He was resuscitated at Lake Region Healthcare. Fergus Falls police are investigating.

Boat Rescue
A man, woman and three small children were rescued from Fish Lake northeast of Fergus Falls shortly before 6:00 pm Sunday.
The family was stuck in a boat in the middle of the lake when the boat motor died. They had only one paddle.
The boat drifted to the lake’s south shore. The Fergus Falls Fire Department assisted the family by helping them up a steep slope, then removed water from the boat and towed it back to the public access.
No one was injured.

Cabin Break-in
The owner of a lake cabin on West Battle Lake reported to the sheriff’s department that their cabin was broken into with some damage. The break-in happened sometime during the winter.
A window on the door was broken. The heat had been turned on and several cigarette butts were found throughout the cabin. The electricity used amounted to $157. There are no suspects.

Pole Barn Fire
A grass fire ignited a pole shed Saturday afternoon at a residence west of Parker’s Prairie. The fire was close to a barn with steers, sheep and llamas.
Two males, 24 and 17, tried to put out the fire, but it was firefighters from Parker’s Prarie and Miltona to put out he blaze and save the barn.
The pole shed was a total loss.

Wilkin County Fires
Wilkin County firefighters were busy over the weekend. A barn fire was reported Friday night near Tintah. The property belongs to Todd Jay Callenius. The 30x60 barn and a small building along side the barn were a total loss. Several goats, rabbits and cats, along with over 100 bales of hay were also lost. The fire is believed to have started at an electrical box inside the barn. A grass fire was reported about 4:30 am Saturday along Interstate 94 along the eastbound lanes between mile markers 28 and 30. That fire appears to have started next to the interstate. The cause is undetermined but could have been started by a cigarette butt or sparks from a vehicle.

Boston Marathon First Timer
Its the first time running in the boston marathon for Minnesota State-University President Anne Blackhurst, and probably the last.  Blackhurst is in Boston where she'll take part in her 10th marathon. Blackhurst, who's 54, qualified for Boston during last year's Fargo Marathon.  She'll skip Fargo this year and instead take part in the Twin Cities Marathon in October.  With the trial of one of the 2013 bombing defendants still fresh on the city's mind, Blackhurst says there's a lot of emotion in Boston.  

Thumper Pond Collapse Update
Thumper Pond Resort in Ottertail is working with forensic engineers to find the cause of the collapse of the roof over their 12,000 square foot water park. But the results of the investigation aren’t expected for several weeks.
Thumper Pond General Manager Brad Stevens says the guest rooms, restaurant, pro shop and conference center were not damaged in the collapse, but areas adjoining the waterpark suffered significant water damage.
The resort was closed Wednesday as a precautionary measure so the integrity of the undamaged portions of the resort could be verified. The resort opened again Thursday after being cleared by the Minnesota Health Department and the State Fire Marshal.
All amenities are expected to be operating at full capacity by this weekend except the waterpark and Serene Woods Spa. Stevens says they will remain closed until further notice.
Rebuilding of the waterpark area will begin as soon as possible. Stevens says the company is committed to keeping all team members working throughout the rebuilding process.

Wildfire In Beltrami Island State Forest
Firefighters continue to battle a large wildfire in the Beltrami Island State Forest in Northwestern Minnesota.   Dnr Spokesman Jeff Edmonds says the fire started Wednesday 20 miles south of Warroad and has blackened about 5,000 acres of state owned land, most of it dense pine forest.
Edmonds says the Palsburg (pals-burg) Fire is 30% contained.  More than 100 firefighters with assistance from two Minnesota National Guard helicopters are battling the blaze.

Caveat Emptor

While it may seem like a good deal at the time, buying used child or infant car seats either online or at upcoming spring rummage sales can be very dangerous. Even if the car seat is in like new condition, a prospective buyer may not know the age of the seat or worse. Not only are used seats unlikely to come with the manufacturer's instructions which are vital for correct installation, but they could be missing important parts. The other factor may be if there was a manufacturer recall for the seat.

Town Hall Meeting
State Representative Bud Nornes and State Senator Bill Ingebritsen will be holding another town hall meeting in Otter Tail County. This time it will be at Lakes Café in Perham this Saturday beginning at 10:00 am.
This is one more opportunity for residents to weigh in on the issues as the legislature hits the final stretch of the session and faces this year’s biggest decisions.
Issues raised at previous town hall meetings in Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids and Battle Lake include: agriculture property taxes, transportation, school funding, buffer zones and trapping.

Pedal Fergus Falls proposals
The group “Pedal Fergus Falls” is encouraging changes to make bicycling in the city, especially downtown, safer.
The group asked the Public Works & Safety Committee to consider putting up “Walk Bikes on Sidewalk” signs along the entrances to the Lincoln Avenue corridor near Union and Cascade, as well as on Mill and Court Streets both north and south of Lincoln. The signs would be affixed to existing posts.
In addition to the signs, the group would like to have what are called sharrows painted on the street on Lincoln, Mill and Court. Sharrows are shared lane markings that direct bicyclists to position themselves safely in lanes too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to comfortably travel side by side within the same traffic lane. Sharrows require no additional street space and do not impact existing on-street parking as a bike lane would.
A separate issue for the “Pedal Fergus Falls” group is to get a portion of city ordinance changed. City ordinance currently requires that bicyclists ride single file on the streets. The group would like that ordinance to allow riding up to two abreast. Fergus Falls Police Chief Kile Bergren says he’d like to keep the single file language in effect for the downtown area. City staff will do research on the costs for the signage and get proposed language changes to the ordinance for the full city council to consider at a future meeting.