Ottertail Fire seeks to update grass truck

By Jenna Baker


The Otter Tail River was of main discussion at the City of Ottertail’s regularly scheduled August Council Meeting.

Many members of the public were present to discuss what, if any, restoration should be done to the river, specifically between the outlets near County Highway 1 and River View Road. The council opened the discussion by noting that the problems arising have been ongoing and are serious, including stagnant water downstream. They noted that one option is to have a passive overflow system installed where the outlet near County Highway 1 is. This system is similar to a waterfall and would allow excess water back into the lake so the island part is not under water. 

Numerous members of the public expressed concern over this system as it would essentially close that outlet. Brought up by a number of community members was the idea of dredging the river as well as cleanup of the river in general as a first step.

After discussion between both the public and council, it was determined that this project is still in the exploratory stage and that meetings with professionals including the DNR, engineers and hydrologists are needed to make the best informed decision. 

Mayor Ron Grobeck noted that this is a critical issue and because the city council doesn’t want to kick the issue further down the road, meetings with experts and the public will be scheduled as soon as possible. Once solidified, dates and times of these meetings will be made known to the public.

Also present at the meeting was Bob Schlieman of Apex Engineering, who presented on various topics regarding the water tower. The first item was the quotes received for the water level alarm system. 

A motion was passed to approve the bid from Automatic Systems Company. The total cost of the project is $13,965, which includes the equipment, labor and one year of monitoring cost with a completion date of November 19, 2021. A $50 monthly fee will be required in order to have smartphone access to the water levels and alerts if high or low levels occur sent to Maintenance Coordinator Justin Lohse’s phone. Infrastructure for the system will be housed in the Fire Hall. 

Schlieman also provided details regarding the water tower inspection report. KLM Engineering Inc. inspected the tower in July and provided a detailed report noting items that need to be improved upon. The report noted that there are areas in both the wet and dry interior of the tower that need coating or “touch ups” and that the exterior will need to be completely redone, including sandblasting and painting. Additionally, there are also various structural and safety improvements that need to be made.

The council explained that the improvements KLM noted in the report are not optional and need to be done. Therefore, the council passed a motion for Schlieman and Apex Engineering to make a proposal to provide engineering services for the project, action that will move the upgrades forward.

The council also discussed the Water Contract with the City of Henning. On July 20th, the committees from the two cities met to discuss the contract. Out of that meeting came two options for how to proceed, the first being agreeing to a “settlement rate” under the existing contract and the second being agreeing to a new contract.

Due to the complex nature of the contract and the many variables, the council determined it best to hold a public informational meeting to inform Ottertail residents of the options. Also at the meeting there will be a review of the Preliminary Engineering Report created previously that outlines the estimated costs of Ottertail providing water to their residents rather than contracting through the City of Henning. 

At the August council meeting, the council scheduled an informational meeting to be held on Wednesday, September 8th at 7pm at the Community Center to discuss in more detail. Should that date change, notice would be given.

In other news

• After a public hearing, the council approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to move a two-car garage onto the currently vacant lot on 100 Thalman Road. A CUP is required to allow for an accessory structure exceeding 260 square feet and ten feet in height  to be built  on an empty lot if not being built simultaneously with a residential dwelling. 

• City staff informed the council of the stolen stop signs, poles and all, that were taken possibly on the afternoon of Monday, August 9th. Lohse worked to replace the signs and posts, which were back up on Tuesday, August 10th, while temporary signage was in place until then.

• Clerk Elaine Hanson notified the council of the recent DNR notice, prohibiting recreational campfires due to the extreme drought conditions which was in place at the time of the meeting. 

• The council was informed by city staff of two different funds the city has received or will be receiving. American Rescue Plans (ARPA) Funds given to the city will total approximately $77,000 and be split over two years. Hanson noted that she has done some research regarding what these funds can be used for and one project would include structural maintenance of the water tower. The other funds the city will receive are from the Small Cities Assistance Funds and totals $15,000 to be used for road work or improvements.

• A motion was passed for the planning committee to move forward with receiving quotes and seeking sponsorships for new pickleball courts in the park. Planning is still in the works, but the goal is to have two courts added and the committee would like to provide the option of having tennis and basketball played on one of them as well.