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Fair opens Thursday

Whether it’s the food or the rides, the animals or the entertainment, the East Otter Tail County Fair is the must stop event of the summer.
The EOT County Fair will roll into Perham this week, setting up for four days of summer fun. Gates open on Thursday and swing shut Sunday evening.
Admission to the fair is free, with on-site parking available  read entire story. . . .

Riding for kid's dreams

The stereotypical biker is leather bound and rough around the edges. And though bikers with Dreams for Kids may don leather this Saturday, the fact that they are riding for kids blows these stereotypical ideas out of the water.
The ninth annual Dreams for Kids Bike Run has moved to the VFW in New York Mills for the first time this year and will be held on Saturday, July 26. Dreams for Kids is a local organization that has helped  read entire story. . . .

Visiting artist captures stories from NY Mills

The Cultural Center has brought another guest to the Art Retreat House in New York Mills.  As a photographer/videographer/journalist, Karen Kopacz has spent part of her time in NY Mills visiting with people around town for her documentary.
During her first week, Kopacz was excited to experience the town’s summer celebration and meet a few people, some of which agreed to interviews. She had the opportunity to talk to Tim and Heather Cassidy, Zona McGahn at the bakery, yoga instructor Melissa Lepper, and artist Troy Helget during the Fish House Festival.
“I wanted to tell authentic inspirational stories about people in varied cultural, social and economic situations. And to show that stories that inspire can be from anyone, anywhere.” said Kopacz.
A collection of Kopacz’s stories can be found at www.publicfieldguide.com, her work in progress tells stories in a variety of formats—written, pictures and videos. Majoring in fine art in college, with a minor in fiction, Kopacz started “Public Field Guide” a year ago.
“‘Public Field Guide’ is a project that I started to tell stories about people rethinking how they live and work. I launched it earlier this year and have been interviewing various people where I live, and when I travel. It is a photo documentary blog with some short videos. Part of what I’m working on here in New York Mills is to refine the format. So now, I’m working on a documentary film short, so that I can tell a story with more depth,” said Kopacz.
Kopacz said the hardest part about telling people’s stories is trying not to sugar coat and trying to find a bal The Cultural Center has brought another guest to the Art Retreat House in New York Mills.  As a photographer/videographer/journalist, Karen Kopacz has spent part of her time in NY Mills visiting with people around town for her documentary.
During her first week, Kopacz was excited to experience the town’s summer celebration and meet a few people, some of which agreed to interviews. She had the opportunity to talk to Tim and Heather Cassidy, Zona McGahn at the bakery, yoga instructor Melissa Lepper, and artist Troy Helget during the Fish House Festival.
“I wanted to tell authentic inspirational stories about people in varied cultural, social and economic situations. And to show that stories that inspire can be from anyone, anywhere.” said Kopacz.
A collection of Kopacz’s stories can be found at www.publicfieldguide.com, her work in progress tells stories in a variety of formats—written, pictures and videos. Majoring in fine art in college, with a minor in fiction, Kopacz started “Public Field Guide” a year ago.
“‘Public Field Guide’ is a project that I started to tell stories about people rethinking how they live and work. I launched it earlier this year and have been interviewing various people where I live, and when I travel. It is a photo documentary blog with some short videos. Part of what I’m working on here in New York Mills is to refine the format. So now, I’m working on a documentary film short, so that I can tell a story with more depth,” said Kopacz.
Kopacz said the hardest part about telling people’s stories is trying not to sugar coat and trying to find a bal  read entire story. . . .

Ottertail City revokes permit on Sanda house

The Ottertail City Council unanimously agreed to revoke the most recent building permit issued for the large blue house on the corner of State Highway 108 and Park Circle in Ottertail.
During the Ottertail City Council meeting last week, the council once again discussed Steve Sanda’s unusual looking home. The home has received community criticism in the past.
The city recently learned that the bright blue beams jutting out of the large multilevel yellow house are in violation of setback regulations and city ordinances. They are too close to State Highway 108.
Since the structure is in violation, the city has the authority to revoke the permit and direct the owner to remove the offending parts of the structure. If the beams are not removed, City Attorney Terry Karkela said the next step would be to sue and have the district court tell Sanda to remove the beams.
According to the permit the beams are meant to be a carport, catwalk and breezeway. From the roadway, the project in question looks to be a system of beams and does not appear to be complete.
Sanda’s home first came into discussion last fall, when the city received verbal complaints from neighbors on its looks. At that time, the city council held a special meeting at the Sanda residence, in order to tour the grounds. During that meeting Sanda was not present, however his parents Richard and Kris were. Following the special meeting, the council gave authority to City Maintenance Supervisor Lee Sherman to work with Sanda’s parents on beautifying the house.
Moving forward the council decided to follow the advice of the city attorney and take a more formal action. Specific deadlines were not addressed during the meeting.

In other news:
-The council approved the hiring of Lorin Hawes for the Maintenance/Zoning Coordinator. Lee Sherman plans to retire in the next couple of months. The entire council interviewed four people during meetings held on July 9-10. Using scoring criteria, Hawes was determined to be the best fit for the position and was offered the job.
-The Ottertail Rod and Gun Club purchased 30 nylon flags, poles and hardware to be placed  read entire story. . . .

Lakes, rivers reach  record high levels

Heavy rainfall this spring and summer has a number of area lakes approaching their highest recorded levels of all-time.
Blanche Lake’s last reading read 1,329.07 ft on July 1. This is just .13 feet below its highest recorded mark set on July 2, 2001. Ordinarily, the elevation in this area in 1,328.24 feet, so the water levels in this area have really risen.
East Battle is also suffering the same problem. The highest recorded levels were also in 2001 at 1334.95 feet. The last updated reading was on June 17, reading just .66 feet below the highest recorded mark.
In July of 1998, Middle Leaf was recorded at 1,320.16 feet high.  This May it was recorded at 1319.19ft. This is substantially high compared to the last 10 years of the lake being one to two feet lower on average, with some years being many more feet lower.
The highest recorded total for Otter Tail Lake was set in 2011. This year the highest recorded total was just .27 feet behind this years reading. The lowest recorded total is 5 feet below today’s water levels.
Rush Lake is another lake that is cutting it close. Today’s levels are just .1 feet off the highest recorded level. The lowest for this lake is 4 feet below this summer’s readings.
West Battle Lake is 1.5 feet below its highest recorded level, but 2 ft higher than late 2012 levels. It is also 9 feet above the lowest recorded level.
West Leaf is also just .41 feet below the highest recorded level. This spring, the lake read 1,320.03 feet.
At Big Pine Lake, the water level from this spring was recorded at 1333.13 feet high. The highest recorded level was set in 1993 at 1334.34 feet. The lowest point the lake has been recorded at is 1334.34 feet.
Little Pine Lake read 1334.21 feet this spring. The highest recorded water level is 1335.78 feet back in the summer of 1993.
 read entire story. . . .

Deer Trail days ahead

By Brooke Rehm
Summer Intern

It’s time, once again for the 24th annual Deer Trails Day celebration. This day of fun will take place on Saturday, July 26.
This year’s festivities will feature many activities returning from last year along with a few new exciting ones.
The day will beginwith the 5K Registration at 7 a.m. with the race kicking off at 8 a.m. The Methodist Quilt and Bake Sale with coffee and rolls will start at 9 a.m.
The 2014 Deer Trails Day Parade will start at 11 a.m. Just half an hour after the start of the parade, is the Morning Glories Flower Show and Sale. At 12 p.m., The medallion clues will be posted at the community center. Also at this time, guess the pennies is located in the museum, kid games and petting zoo, Bingo, and registration for the volleyball and bean bag tournaments. Make sure to check out Eric’s Dance Band playing on Main Street and the photo booth by Photo Magic.
The volleyball tournament kicks off at 1 p.m. behind Red’s Bar and Grill. At 2 p.m., the Bean bag toss for the age groups of 8-12 and 13-17 starts. A little later, there will be music on Main Street by AC Entertainment will play some great music.
At 3 p.m., the youth volleyball tournament will begin by the post office. The beer tasting competition will commence at 5 p.m. along with the all cchool reunion registration. The bean bag tournament and all school reunion will start at 6 p.m.
The day will come to a close with a street dance with the band Copperhead Creek in downtown Deer Creek.  read entire story. . . .

Following clues in NYM Amazing Race

The third annual New York Mills Amazing Game was held last Saturday afternoon in various locations around town. Fourteen teams (seven new, seven returning) followed 22 clues and completed nine challenges.
Ryan Brasel and Lucas Heeter with spotter Jodi Malcom won first place, receiving $100, ten 100-Grand candy bars (making it one million dollars). They also received a gnome and lottery tickets. Tim Fresonke and Maggie Carlson with spotter Jeremy Saewert won second place, which was $30 cash. The team that came in last place received a “booby” prize, which included “booby” whistles and lottery tickets.  
Amazing Game coordinator Vicki Olson said, “We do not award a huge grand prize for first place on purpose to try to stop teams from driving too fast, or sabotaging other teams. Instead we do a ton of prizes at the end of the night that we draw for. We try to keep it to a day dedicated to having a good time not about winning a big money prize.”
Team’s joined the competition for $45, which included three t-shirts, three lunches, a portion of the supplies and random tickets for the prize drawings.
Olson said, “The expenses out weigh the entry fee by far and this is why we need sponsors for the game.” This year was the first time the committee broke even for expenses.
 read entire story. . . .

Summer school projects underway

Maintenance projects estimating $74,000 are underway at the New York Mills School.
This summer there are three different projects, none of which would be considered major. The projects are being completed because of efficiency reasons, safety requirements and general upkeep. The three projects include lighting upgrades, fire marshal required changes and the parking lot.
First off, the costs for the lighting project will be almost completely reimbursed through rebates and energy savings.  In an interview with Maintenance Manager Jeff Preuss and Superintendent Blaine Novak last week, Novak said, “There are lots of rebates attached to light projects and the 20-year savings is incredible.”
The outdoor light fixtures are being replaced with LED lights that are more energy efficient and brighter. The exterior light project will cost an estimated $17,000. Upon completion, the school will qualify for nearly $6,000 in rebates through Otter Tail Power. The lighting changes are estimated to save the school $4,100 annually on electricity.
The second part of the lighting project is indoors. Energy efficient light switches will replace the manual light switches in classrooms, gyms and the commons. The new switches are motion activated and will shut the lights off when a room is empty for a set amount of time. The cost of the project will be made up within a year. The initial cost is $21,000, which will immediately be reduced by a $15,000 rebate from Otter Tail Power. On top of that, the district is expecting to save an estimated $6,000 in energy costs.  
Although the lighting is being changed for efficiency and cost-saving purposes, the high school parking lot is another matter. As part of general maintenance, large sinkholes found throughout the high school parking lot will be filled in the next few weeks. The district has hired Bargen to patch four of the worst spots for an estimated $15,000. After patching, Bargen will sweep the entire lot, paint stripes and paint curbs for an additional $3,400.  This project is expected to take place at the end of July and beginning of August. During this time, the parking lot will be closed to traffic.
The final project are requirements to keep the building up to fire code. After the fire marshal inspection last spring, the school had to make two changes to its building. After roughly $12,000, the doors that lead into the courtyard in the elementary school will now swing the other direction. The doors must now swing into the school to meet egress regulations. This change was budgeted at $16,000, but came in far below budget.  
Also per fire marshal order, new door closures were added to 25 doors throughout the school. The mechanisms cost $6,000 and will allow doors to automatically close in the case of a fire. Necessary changes due to fire marshal orders are paid for out of the Health and Safety budget. All other changes are covered through the general budget.
Besides these three projects, general cleaning and maintenance have been keeping summer staff busy in preparation for another school year.
“The entire building is being stripped, waxed, just like we do every year.” Preuss said, “There’s less traffic, but just as much going on at the school.”
A small crew has been painting the outside light poles, awnings and exterior doors. Although there have been touchups over the last 20 years, a complete painting project hasn’t been done many years. Staff also replaced the broken tiles in the hallways, many of which broke because of frost heaves last winter.
Novak said making the building look nice is due to the maintenance manager: “Jeff has done a phenomenal job organizing the summer projects, in addition to the annual cleaning of the building…I think all that is happening at the school should be highlighted, because it is all good and it makes a dramatic change.”
 read entire story. . . .