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Islamic Center permit OK’d at bowling alley

Pelican Rapids is building on its reputation as a welcoming, multi-cultural community–with news that a regional mosque and Islamic community center will be established here.
“It makes me feel so good at how welcome we are in this town,” said Nidal Omar, speaking to the Pelican Rapids City Council April 27. “I’m impressed so much with your beautiful town.”
So pleased with the longstanding relationship between Pelican and its ethnic residents–including the many Muslims who have resettled here–the Islamic Society of Fargo-Moorhead bought the former bowling alley.  
Extensive renovations are underway–inside and out. It is likely to become one of the largest Islamic community centers in the region.
The city council gave the project its full blessing, including a special use permit to operate worship and event center in the commercial zone.  The former bowling lanes are on the north end of town, near the intersection of County Road 9 and Highway 59.  read entire story. . . .

"Have I got a deal for you!"

An offer to buy a small, lake country gas station 40 years ago evolved into diversified Lakeland General Store complex for Robin, Carla Johnson family.

By Brenda Brand
Special Correspondent

The year is 1976.  The people, engaged couple Robin Johnson and Carla Seifert.   Robin is a History and Political Science teacher in Wyndmere, North Dakota;Carla, a Business Administration graduate, working in the Pharmacy of St. Francis Hospital in Breckenridge.  
Busy planning their wedding, Carla’s dad Milton Seifert said to them, “Have I got a deal for you!”  
John McDunn, owner of Mac’s Service in Dunvilla wanted to sell his business and Milton thought his daughter and future son-in-law would be perfect owners.  
Johnson’s Store 1976  read entire story. . . .

Speaker to recount tragedy of infant son’s death after drunk driving crash

Public invited to school program May 6, 10 a.m.

A man who suffered the tragic loss of a five-month-old son in a drunk-driving accident will speak in Pelican Rapids May 6.
The Pelican Rapids High School Student Lighthouse Team and Students Against Destructive Decisions will present Southwest Minnesota State University’s men’s basketball coach, Brad Bigler at a a student assembly.  
The talk will begin at 10 a.m. in the Legends Gymnasium. The general public is encouraged to attend.
SLT and SADD leadership groups would like to extend an invitation to the general public to come listen to Coach Bigler’s message. (Visitors are asked to enter through the main office entry on the east side of building. Door #1)  read entire story. . . .

Who will fight future fires?

Though Pelican Fire Department’s ranks are stable for now–recruiting volunteer firefighters among Generations X, Y, Z and beyond is a concern throughout rural America

By Louis Hoglund

Finding volunteer firefighters in rural Minnesota is a challenge that, thankfully, Pelican Rapids hasn’t experienced–at least not yet.
Four fire departments in rural Minnesota literally closed up the firehall last year because of lack of recruits.  One department was down to seven guys–at an average age of 65.  read entire story. . . .

‘Feral Cat Friends’ win city support

Feline-friendly Pelican Rapids becoming known as humane cat control community.

By Louis Hoglund

Pelican Rapids might have become known as “The City of Tens of Thousands of Cats,” along with its “World’s Largest Pelican” claim.
Even cat fanciers would agree–Pelican Pete is probably a preferable mascot, over marauding alleycats. Instead, Pelican has quietly become a unique example for humane control of the unwanted cat population.
It may not be known or obvious to the average onlooker, but Pelican Rapids is a “model” city in its handling of “stray” cats.  read entire story. . . .

Renaissance At the Pelican schools

Renovate, renew, refurbish, rebirth, reinvigorate...All of these could apply to the expansion and rebuilding of the Pelican Rapids High School campus–after touring the facilities as a work in progress.

The newest–and among the finest–performance theaters and gymnasiums in the region, were toured by the Pelican Rapids School Board April 18.
The walk-through of the school’s approximate $26 million renovation expansion also included a glimpse of three science labs and classrooms that will be among the most modern and high tech in the area.
The construction areas are bustling, with as many as 50 workers per day on the site, noted Trevor Steeves, buildings and facilities  superintendent–who led the school board on the tour.  
Some of the highlights of the tour:
 read entire story. . . .

Lowering value, property taxes is goal of West Central Turkeys petition

$50,000 in annual tax revenue losses a concern for Pelican Rapids City Council

By Louis Hoglund

Jennie-O Turkeys is seeking a reduction in the taxable property value at its Pelican Rapids West Central Turkeys plant, which could slash its taxes–and also reduce revenue to the city of Pelican Rapids by nearly $50,000 a year.
The company filed a petition with the St. Paul-based tax court, which would reduce its current per square foot value of about $25 down to $15.
The current total value of the industrial complex is at  about $8.9 million, according to Otter Tail County assessor Doug Walvatne.  Under the preliminary agreement, which is awaiting final action in tax court, the value of the Jennie-O industrial property in Pelican Rapids would be reduced to about $5.5 million.
“We’re seeing a lot more filings on larger industrial operations, along with big box retailers like Target, Lowes and Menards,” said Walvatne. Petitions have been filed at both Otter Tail County retail locations of Shopko–Fergus Falls and Perham.  read entire story. . . .

Islamic center planned at  former Pelican bowling lanes

One of the largest Islamic community center and mosque complexes in the state of Minnesota may replace the old bowling lanes in Pelican Rapids.
The Islamic Society of Fargo-Moorhead has purchased the former bowling center on the north end of Pelican Rapids.
Details are still unfolding, but the city’s planning and zoning commission learned about the plans at the April 21 meeting at Pelican city hall.
Attending the session was Nidal Omar, a leader of the Islamic Society.  The group requested a special use permit for an Islamic worship and event center at the site–which is zoned commercial.
The former bowling facility is in the process of being renovated and remodeled.  read entire story. . . .

Interest rates under 2 percent benefit Pelican school taxpayers

Board OK’s bond issues to refinance debt; bring in new maintenance money

By Louis Hoglund

Taxpayers will save up to $190,000 as a result of the refinancing of about $1.7 million in Pelican Rapids school debt.  
Highly competitive interest rates produced the savings.  The winning bid on the general obligation bonds was only 1.72 percent.  
As recently as 2014, the rate for building bonds for institutions like schools was 3.4 percent, said Kelly Smith, the Pelican school’s financial advisor for the transaction.  
The debt dates to 2009, for improvements and updates primarily at Pelican’s Viking Elementary School–including heating, ventilation and air-handling.
Superintendent Deb Wanek explained that the decision to refinance the debt does not bring more dollars to the school district.  It is actually property tax relief, because it lowers the bond payback over the life of the bonds–which will mature in 2029.  While the savings for each individual taxpayer will be a relatively small sum  when amortized–it is still a $190,000 total savings over the life of the bonds.  read entire story. . . .