Long-time physical plant manager honored by OT County

Contributed photo
Physical Plant Manager Terry Hoff announced his retirement from Otter Tail County, effective May 31, 2024, after 36 years of service, the last 13 as a department head.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

The county Solid Waste Department has received a $250,000 grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to purchase carts for the southeast quadrant and collection services for Battle Lake and Henning.

“This is for our single-sort recycling curbside project,” said Solid Waste Director Chris McConn to county commissioners on March 12. “The MPCA is asking us to sign an agreement so we can receive the money.”

  The agreement lays out Otter Tail County’s responsibility when using these grant dollars. 

Authorizing the Solid Waste Department to sign the grant agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency were County Board Chairman Kurt Mortenson of rural Underwood and Commissioners Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls, Dan Bucholz of Perham and Bob Lahman of Parkers Prairie. Unable to attend the meeting was Commissioner Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids.

Functions of the county Solid Waste Department are to:

• Provide convenient disposal options to all county residents through six solid waste transfer stations

• Provide a household hazardous waste program

• Coordinate recycling, composting and collection of agricultural plastic and boat wrap

• Reduce landfilling by sending waste to the Perham Resource Recovery Facility.

• Educate the public on waste reduction, recycling, composting and proper disposal through education and outreach programming.

Other news from county board meeting

Otter Tail County commissioners, on March 12, heard a report from County Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons about donations of Fire Suppression Tools (FST) from Masons organizations in Perham and Pelican Rapids.

The FST is a highly effective suppression tool. The simple pull of pins results in activation which can be used by not only sheriff personnel but also police officers, fire fighters and other first responders.

County commissioners approved a joint powers agreement to include county human services, the sheriff office and Fergus Falls Police Department. There is a need to implement a coordinated response to address increased law enforcement involvement in mental health related calls.

Social services will work closely with law enforcement personnel to provide follow-up and service coordination following a mental health crisis. Crisis follow up services will link residents to other short- and long-term support services.

Mark Sand and Gravel of Fergus Falls had the low bid among seven bidders for work along the Maplewood State Park segment of the Heart of the Lakes Regional Trail that runs from Pelican Rapids to Perham. County board members approved the low bid.

Terry Hoff, county Physical Plant Manager, will retire from county government later this spring after 36 years of service. He served as manager the past 13 years.

Hoff addressed county board members on March 12 and thanked them and previous county commissioners for the opportunity to work for them and the residents of Otter Tail County.

County Board Chairman Kurt Mortenson thanked Hoff for his “devotion to his work.” Commissioner Lee Rogness pointed out the many challenges which Hoff experienced while directing reconstruction of the county courthouse south of downtown Fergus Falls, a structure dating back 100 years.

Commissioner Dan Bucholz reminded board members that it was not easy for Hoff to house the Motor Vehicle/Driver License and Land and Resource offices at a temporary location. This took place while repairs were made for the two offices at the county Government Services Center on the northwest side of Fergus Falls.

County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Specialist Spencer McGrew reported to county commissioners that 23 watercraft inspectors were employed during the summer of 2023. Inspections over the summer months totaled 11,940.

“People with boats generally know what they need to do when using the waters here in Otter Tail County,” said McGrew who was hired as Otter Tail County’s first Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force Specialist in 2016.

McGrew was recently appointed to serve on the Minnesota DNR’s AIS Advisory Committee.

Highway Maintenance Supervisor Cristi Field called for and received approval from county commissioners for a seasonal supply of hot mix bituminous ($311,000) and a seasonal supply of right of way brush and weed control ($50,363).