County Commissioners review EMS concerns

Photo by Tom Hintgen
Addressing the county board January 2 is Otter Tail County Auditor-Treasurer Wayne Stein. Back, from left, new county board vice chair Lee Rogness, Dan Bucholz, outgoing chairperson Wayne Johnson and new county board chairman Kurt Mortenson.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

The new chairman of the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners for 2024 is Kurt Mortenson of rural Underwood, taking over from outgoing chairman Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids. The new vice chair for 2024 is Commissioner Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls.

The other two county commissioners are Dan Bucholz of Perham and Bob Lahman of Parkers Prairie.

County commissioners, along with approving new officers on Jan. 2, also addressed new business at the start of the new year.

“We thank Wayne for his leadership in 2023,” Mortenson said, “and I pledge to seek guidance from Wayne and my other fellow commissioners in 2024. All five of us want to do our best as we serve the residents of Otter Tail County.”

The first order of business came in coordination with County Auditor-Treasurer Wayne Stein.

Stein reminded county commissioners that Minnesota’s presidential primary will take place Tuesday, March 5. He and county commissioners discussed absentee ballot board membership.

Each member of the ballot board will receive training on the procedures for opening absentee ballot envelopes, procedures for counting absentee ballots and procedures for reporting absentee ballot totals.

Stein also discussed with county board members the authorized use of his office to make electronic fund transfers as stated in Minnesota statutes. 

County board reviews concerns about EMS

County commissioners, on Jan. 2, addressed concerns about Emergency Medical Services (EMS) operations in Otter Tail County. Two of the major concerns include funding shortages and staffing, also concerns in other rural counties throughout Minnesota.

Board members voiced plans to attend an EMS Task Force listening session from 2 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 9, in Elbow Lake at the Grant County Government Center. This session is coordinated by State Sen. Jordan Rasmusson and State Rep. Jeff Backer.

The task force will hear from area residents on ways to improve the life-saving services provided by EMS personnel. This meeting is a listening session to gather public input from western Minnesota. Subsequent hearings will take place in other regions of the state.

To sign up to testify, contact the Task Force Administrator at by noon on Monday, Jan. 8.

County board praises Lakes Country Association

County commissioners, on Jan. 2, renewed their service agreement with Otter Tail Lakes Country Association.

Membership is comprised of a wide range of businesses, organizations including Otter Tail County and area communities. The association relies on the collaboration and collective action of members to promote Otter Tail County and adjoining areas as a “premier destination to play, stay, dine, live and work.”

County Deputy Administrator Nick Leonard told county board members that Otter Tail County government contributes 20 percent to the overall budget of Otter Tail Lakes Country Association.

“Lakes Country does an excellent job in marketing Otter Tail County,” said County Commissioner Lee Rogness. “Our county population oftentimes doubles during the summer months and the association has a lot to do with this.”

New county Board chairman Kurt Mortenson said the work of Lakes Country, in attracting visitors to Otter Tail County, helps lay the groundwork for future residents moving to this area of west central Minnesota.

“We have competition for tourists from other counties, and this is another reason for Otter Tail County to renew our service agreement with Otter Tail Lakes Country Association,” said County Commissioner Wayne Johnson. “I wholeheartedly agree with others that Lakes Country does an excellent job.”