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Mills Dream Team first in EOT to reach Sapphire level

For the first time in the East Otter Tail Relay for Life 21-year history, a team has reached the Sapphire Level. Mills Dream Team raised more than $15,000, qualifying them for the Sapphire status.
The American Cancer Society recognizes teams for their fundraising efforts in the following levels: Rising Star, Bronze, Gold, Platinum, Jade, Sapphire, Emerald, Ruby, Purple, Turquoise, Titanium and Cure Club. Until this year, the highest level teams involved in the East Otter Tail Relay have achieved was the Jade Level.
“It is unbelievably awesome,” said Jan Parta, a co-chair of the Mills Dream Team. “Never in our wildest dreams did we expect to make that. We just have great support in NY Mills. It’s because of everyone here that we reached that goal. We have 20 sponsors for our team, which is really a lot compared to other teams.”
With more than 30 active team members, Mills Dream Team has been fundraising since April. Team members held a plant sale, weekly meat raffles at the NY Mills VFW and collected loose change from customers shopping at area businesses. Members also sold hundreds of luminaries. Of the 5,000 luminaries that circled the Perham High School track on July 8, the NY Mills team sold an estimated 500-600, said Parta.  read entire story. . . .

A century of life on the farm

After three generations of farming, Larry and Renee Helmrichs have officially become members of the century farms club. Farms that have qualified for this honor have had continuous family ownership for at least 100 years and farm at least 50 acres or more.
In 1916, Mary Horn and Richlef Helmrichs were married in Ryan, Iowa, 40 miles west of Waterloo. Shortly after being married they purchased a farm and moved from Iowa to rural Deer Creek.
The couple was followed to Minnesota by Richlef’s parents and his five siblings, but one brother remained in Iowa. Four of Mary’s siblings also moved from Iowa to the Deer Creek area. Soon Mary and Richlef were surrounded by their families.
Mary and Richlef had one son, Edwin who helped on the family farm. With his help the family raised small grain, hay, potatoes and peas plus of course a garden. In 1942 Edwin married Stella Wendorf. They decided to stay on the farm with their three children, Ronald, Larry and Nancy and raised small grain, hay and they dairied.
After graduating from college, Larry purchased a neighboring farm. In 1976, he married Renee Klein and in 1978 they decided to purchase the family farm. Larry and Renee had three daughters, Danielle, Nicole and Andrea, and they dairied until 1988. From 1987 to 2008 they farrowed and finished hogs and also raised corn, soybeans, sunflowers and edible beans.
Today, Larry and Renee continue to farm the land, but have leased a majority of the farm to their daughter and son-in law Andrea and Justin Honebrink. Currently, Larry and Renee farm 200 acres, while Justin farms another 500 acres.  read entire story. . . .

Thumper Pond rebuilds waterpark after cave-in

Brad Stevens can’t help but smile as he watches the final touches being completed on the new Thumper Pond water park in Ottertail. Just 16 months after the roof collapsed above the Northern Hideaway Indoor Water Park, Stevens sits atop the new deck that overlooks the water park area and waits for the start of a new beginning for one of the biggest attractions in the Ottertail area.
“We were given that opportunity to start over,” said Stevens, who is the general manager at Thumper Pond. “We really view it as that (second chance).”
Just before midnight on April 14, 2015, the roof above the water park at Thumper Pond collapsed. Due to the time of night, no one was in the pool area at the time the roof collapsed.
“We still say it was a blessing it happened when it did,” said Stevens.  read entire story. . . .

New leader at  Elders’ Home

With more than 20 years in the nursing home sector, Lyn Sebenaler is the new administrator at the Elders’ Home in New York Mills. Her first day was July 11.
About six months ago, Sebenaler moved to the NY Mills area to take the job as the administrator for Fair Oaks Lodge in Wadena. Before that, Sebenaler worked all over the state in nursing homes and assisted livings.
Sebenaler began her career in the nursing home sector in the 90s as a social worker. In 2011, she decided to go back to school for a license in administration. Since obtaining this license in 2012 , Sebenaler has worked for four different facilities in Thief River Falls, Minn., New Richland, Minn., Willmar, Minn. and Wadena.
“Most of my career has been in nonprofit organizations. I also worked with hospice and community based service for mentally ill,” said Sebenaler, in an interview last week.  read entire story. . . .

After 725 houses, Kraft says enough  for the birds


After more than three years, New York Mills resident Harry Kraft made his last birdhouse.
Kraft started manufacturing red birdhouses and hanging them up around NY Mills back in 2013. Instead of spending hours in his workshop in his garage, the 85-year-old decided his talents could be better used elsewhere, even if it meant stopping short of his 1,000 birdhouse goal.
“I just made up my mind that 725 is enough,” said Kraft, who held onto the last birdhouse he made.
Most of the barn red birdhouses have been hung on trees and posts in a 30-mile radius of NY Mills on both public and private property. Some of Kraft’s houses shelter birds as far away as Florida, thanks to family and friends. Although the first few hundred birdhouses Kraft posted himself, the last couple hundred have been distributed by Larry Jacobson, who owns a NY Mills sewer business.  read entire story. . . .

Fight for rights on Otter’s tail

Permanent buildings could soon be constructed on an area of land known as the Otter’s Tail in Ottertail—provided it meets the proper setbacks set forth by the Minnesota DNR.
During its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday night, the Ottertail City Council heard from a number of landowners who have property on the Otter’s Tail about a new ordinance that would replace a covenant on the island that had expired in 2014. That covenant, along with another similar covenant, which the city recently learned was never properly filed, restricted permanent structures from being built on the Otter’s Tail.
City Clerk/Treasurer Elaine Hanson said her understanding of the intent of the council when the original covenant was established was to keep the Otter’s Tail as pristine as possible. The small strip of land is located between the Otter River and Otter Tail Lake.
In order to keep those restrictions in place, and have them be the same for the entire island in the city limits, the city established a new ordinance to restrict constructing structures on the island.  read entire story. . . .