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PELICAN RAPIDS PRESS
For information on how area businesses can participate, phone Pelican Rapids Press advertising representative CINDY HENSCH at 218-863-1421
Abatement [uh-beyt-muh nt]
...an amount deducted or subtracted, as from the usual price or the full tax...
Pelican city, Otter Tail County deploying tax abatement to foster affordable housing; spur economic development
By Louis Hoglund
Housing is one of the top priorities for Pelican Rapids city officials, who are preparing to roll up their sleeves–and roll out the incentives–to bring a 32-unit apartment complex to town.
The $3.6 million project was discussed at the Oct. 11 city council meeting, with developer Skip Duchesneau, of DW Jones Inc., based in Walker.
The site is west on Highway 108, just west of the former Soberg construction shops. Proposed are one to three-bedroom units, with rents ranging from $735 to $1,045 per month.
The apartments would be “market rate” as opposed to subsidized rental units.
Legwork has been happening behind the scenes for several months, including meetings with the developer, Mayor Brent Frazier, City Adm read entire story. . . .
OT County sets policy for tax abatements
By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent
The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners, on Tuesday, Oct. 11, agreed to an amended county tax abatement policy. Passed unanimously were tax abatement minimum requirements.
Abatements may be either permanent forgiveness or temporary deferral of property taxes.
“Tax abatement is one technique to encourage private development projects,” said County Economic Development Director Nick Leonard.
He said the county, through adoption of minimum requirements, can allow the rebate of property taxes to an owner, reallocate taxes to pay for public infrastructure costs or defer the property taxes and rebate the interest penalty.
“At the time an application for an economic development tax abatement is submitted, all current and past due property taxes must be paid in full,” said Leonard.
The use of abatements can serve similar purposes to Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a widely used economic development tool. TIF enables cities to use additional property taxes generated by a new development to pay for certain development expenses. read entire story. . . .
Packing 17,000 lunches in one evening...
Assembly line volunteer crew of 100 forms for ‘Kids Against Hunger’ at Cormorant Lutheran
By Louis Hoglund
“Wow” was the one word reaction from church volunteer Carol Erickson as she scanned the troops amassing in the Cormorant Lutheran Fellowship Hall Oct. 12.
A one-hundred-volunteer force had gathered for an intense couple hours of food packaging. By the time the job was done, about 17,000 meals were packaged–all for the “Kids Against Hunger” program. The packaged meals are headed for food pantries as nearby as the Pelican Rapids Area Food Shelf–and as far afield as Haiti, and beyond.
About 50 volunteers were expected for the evening of assembly line-style food packaging. Instead, an estimated team of 100 showed up.
“Wow” was Erickson’s response to the turnout. Of course, an impressive, yet traditional, Lutheran church potluck may have been a factor in enticing the large crew. Everybody was fed a home-cooked meal of casseroles, hot dishes, baked goods, fruits and vegetables–and there was still food to spare.
More than $4,000 was raised through various fundraising efforts at Cormorant Lutheran, said Erickson, who is a member of the church’s Global Missions Committee. read entire story. . . .
‘Kids Against Hunger’ plans to expand capacity to produce a billion meals per year
Kids Against Hunger packages highly nutritious, life-saving meals for starving children and malnourished children and their families in developing countries and the United States.
The goal of the organization is for its meals to provide a stable nutritional base from which recipient families can move their families from starvation to self-sufficiency. Kids Against Hunger accomplishes this by mobilizing the energy and caring of American children, teens, and adults on behalf of hungry children around the world.
Fulfilling Kids Against Hunger’s mission requires a vast food packaging capacity to meet an endless demand for food. Because physical constraints of the International Headquarters facility initially prevented further growth in production, the organization began expanding its operations by setting up food packaging “satellites” including the facility in Nisswa.
Kids Against Hunger believes that the best way to engage the largest number of people is through a decentralized, locally-based network of food packaging satellites that are active in their community.
It is Kids Against Hunger’s goal to develop this food packaging network, over the next ten years, with a two-tiered approach of local packaging satellites and regional divisions. Through this structure, Kids Against Hunger expects to generate the capacity to produce over one billion meals per year.
Legislative candidates agree road repairs crucial in state
By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail Correspondent
Candidates for Minnesota Senate District 8 and State House District 8A all agree that maintaining roadways in Otter Tail County and across the state needs to be addressed.
Incumbent State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, opposed by Shawn Olson, and incumbent State Rep. Bud Nornes, opposed by C.J. Holl, addressed transportation and roadway maintenance Friday, Oct. 14, during a noon candidate forum at A Center for the Arts, Fergus Falls.
The gathering was sponsored and organized by the Fergus Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.
Incumbents Ingebrigtsen and Nornes, both Republicans, prefer to supply transportation dollars from the state general fund. They both oppose increasing the state gasoline tax.
The current state tax on gasoline is 28.5 cents. A proposal by Senate Democrats to raise the tax by 16 cents, to 44.5 cents in order to fund more road projects, was turned down by legislators.
House Republicans, in turn, proposed that roadway projects come from the general fund and using bonding and initiation of new license tab fees.
“Otter Tail County has 1,017 miles of roads read entire story. . . .
Pelican Rapids site eyed for new OT County centralized road crew facility
By Louis Hoglund
Pelican Rapids may become the regional hub for the Otter Tail County highway department road crews.
A new garage facility, which would combine scattered county garages in Erhard, Vergas and Pelican, may be constructed in or near the city of Pelican.
That was the word from Otter Tail County Commissioner Wayne Johnson, at the Oct. 11 Pelican Rapids City Council meeting.
It could mean that all six county workers, now scattered at three locations, will now base out of Pelican Rapids–in a brand new facility.
Present facilities in Pelican, Erhard and Vergas are antiquated, said Johnson.
Pelican is attractive to county officials, including Otter Tail Highway Engineer Rick West, because of its central location. Also, the county would prefer city sewer and water service–though it wouldn’t be an absolute criteria, said Johnson.
Engineer West has also had discussions with Pelican city administrator Don Solga on a site for the new garage. read entire story. . . .
A vexing vandalism at Dunvilla
Parking lot spree at Lakeland General Store resulted in damaged sign post; tipped diesel pump; torched truck
By Louis Hoglund
A bizarre case of vandalism has been a head-scratcher for the small community of Dunvilla–and a headache of about $30,000 in damages to a local business.
The neighborhood is collectively baffled why a young man would pull into the Lakeland General Store lot in the wee hours of the morning–and proceed to smash a stolen truck into a light post and also rammed it into a diesel pump.
The incident occurred at 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 25. And, like many businesses today, security cameras are installed–so the destructive spree was on video–and potentially incriminating.
The 21-year-old suspect has been a customer at the Dunvilla hardware and convenience store for several years, said store owner Robin Johnson.
“We have no idea why he would do this,” said Robin. The suspect lived northwest of Dunvilla, and visited the store about twice a week, said Johnson. “All of us, including our customers, are just shaking our heads.”
When Robin Johnson and his crew came to work Sunday morning, they found a light fixture and sign lying in the driveway. Nearby, the diesel fuel pump was knocked off its foundation. read entire story. . . .
A natural touch on Prairie Lake
From preparation in June to blooms, growth by September, native plantings take root through shoreline restoration project
By Louis Hoglund
Two-hundred feet of Prairie Lake shoreline has been transformed into a 12-foot-deep “garden” of native plants, grasses and flowers.
“It will be beautiful...but you have to be willing to weed,” said Kathy Evenson, who signed on with the Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District for a cost-sharing project aimed at restoring natural shoreline.
Even though summer gave way to autumn and winter is soon upon us, there were splashes of color along the lake–in sharp contrast to other lots around Prairie Lake. Instead of sand beach, rip rap and manicured lawn up to the water’s edge–the Evenson site is a refuge for insects, pollinators, amphibians and other shoreline life.
“It’s a great program, and there is money to fund it,” said Amy Zimmerman, OTSWCD, who led a crew of at least eight staff, apprentices and Conservation Corps workers to Prairie Lake in June. The strip of shoreland was prepped and planted over the course of several days.
In less than three months, the growth of the native plants was impressive. read entire story. . . .
Growing interest in natural shoreline reflected at ‘Going Wild’ community ed class in Pelican
Interest in shoreline restoration is gaining in the greater Pelican Rapids lakes area.
The trend toward native plantings and sustainable landscapes was reflected at a recent “Going Wild in Your Backyard” Pelican community education class. All eight of the participants in the evening class specifically mentioned natural shoreline as a reason for attending.
From Lida to Prairie to Rose and other lakes, property owners are taking advantage of the West Otter Tail County Soil Conservation District’s “Restore Your Shore” initiative, which includes up to 75 percent reimbursement of costs associated with natural shoreline projects for approved projects.
Teaching the Pelican community ed class Oct. 4 were Lori McGillbray, Franklin Lake, and Mary Bookman, Floyd Lake area, who are master gardener interns in Otter Tail and Becker Counties.
Listed as advantages in native plants and grasses:
• Drought tolerant
• Disease resistant
• Pest resistant
• Deep root systems, which help prevent erosion–especially in lakeshore situations
• Provide habitat and cover for insects and other wildlife
“Lakescaping” promotes a natural buffer between the water’s read entire story. . . .
Scam artists target Otter Tail County, Pelican Rapids area
By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent
County sheriff deputies continue to alert Otter Tail County residents to beware of scam artists.
Scam attempts have also been reported in Pelican Rapids, according to Police Chief Jeff Stadum–who has responded to numerous scam related calls that appear to have escalated in recent years–and months.
While most county residents do not take the bait from these illegal contacts via phone, e-mail and letters, every now and then a county resident makes a wrong decision. The result is oftentimes loss of a substantial amount of money and possibly identity theft.
A case in point was Oct. 6 when a resident east of Fergus Falls wrongly sent three money grams to a location in Jamaica, totaling $3,250.
“In many instances, those scammed are senior citizens who are vulnerable and kind hearted,” said Sheriff Office Administrative Lt. Keith Van Dyke. “Scammers talk a good line and, unfortunately, some seniors fall into a trap.”
Van Dyke said that oftentimes the sheriff’s department works in conjunction with area banks to persuade family members to become conservators for people no longer able to properly handle their financial affairs. read entire story. . . .
County officials present Otter Tail transportation picture
Bleak picture painted for future of area roads
Otter Tail County officials, including Board Chair Lee Rogness, Pelican Rapids area commissioner Wayne Johnson and Rick West, county engineer, presented at the regional Transportation Alliance meeting at Moorhead’s Hjemkomst Center October 5.
The goal was to present funding needs and the current state of transportation funding. MDOT, Clay County as well as local area transit providers including Moorhead Area Transit and Transit Alternatives of Otter Tail County participated as well.
The last legislative session ended without a transportation bill and West said the need is dire. Because funding has been held up in legislative wrangling, Otter Tail County has implemented a ranking system, in cooperation with MNDOT, to assess the greatest need.
West said there are 1,070 miles of roads and 76 bridges in Otter Tail County and currently 33% of roads are ranked as poor and 17% are very poor. Together, that is 50% of roads that are in immediate need of repair or replacement. The other 50% are ranked as fair (31%), good (4%) and very good (16%). The cost for road repair and replacement is $1 million a mile for 2 lane rural roads and $400,000 a mile for pavement reconditioning. read entire story. . . .