Grotte remains on staff another year

By Robert Williams


Krysten Foster was appointed as the new Otter Tail County Highway Engineer at the Board of Commissioners meeting in Fergus Falls on Tuesday, June 13.

Foster was welcomed by deputy administrator Nicholas Leonard and will be replacing Chuck Grotte, who will stay on staff for approximately the next year.

“We’re very appreciative of the board’s willingness to allow us to get started on Mr. Grotte’s replacement,” said Leonard. “We know he has tremendous institutional knowledge and has been with our organization for a long, long time. So, having some overlap will be really important for the new engineer.”

The board passed a resolution in 2022 that authorized administration to begin the search for Grotte’s replacement. The resolution noted that when a hire was forthcoming that Grotte would become the Public Works Director through his retirement in approximately one year. 

“We’re very lucky to have identified an engineer that we want to recommend for appointment and Mr. Grotte will stay on and continue to help us with a wide variety of projects. There is no shortage of work to be done this next year as well as helping Krysten get acclimated and up to speed.”

Per statute the county engineer is appointed for one year with the expectation that a renewal for four years will occur next May. 

The board approved the appointment unanimously.

Foster began her career 16 years ago at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. In 2013, she worked for Lake County and a short-term shared services agreement with Cook County. 

Foster’s first day officially on the job was Monday, July 17.

Grotte has worked for Otter Tail County as an engineer for 22 years and has four decades of engineering experience, including 14 years as a civilian engineer for the United States Air Force and five years working for the city of Grand Forks.

Grotte’s work in Grand Forks came during the flood of 1997 and he helped establish the city’s recovery and aided in its future flood prevention projects.

His notice of an impending retirement has been known since his last appointment for a two-year term in May of 2022. The board made an exception at that time to cut the standard four-year term in half to accommodate the timeline of Grotte’s retirement. 

Pilot program hints at Vergas housing future

Otter Tail County Housing & Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Barbara Dacy presented a letter to the board requesting a public hearing be established for Tuesday, July 25, at 10 a.m., concerning future construction of senior housing in Dalton.

The county has also been in conversation with the Vergas Economic Development Authority/Housing and Redevelopment Authority about a similar housing proposal for portions of the tax-forfeited Sunny Oaks development.

The county’s Finance, Property and License Management Committee reviewed the financing options for the North Fields of Dalton affordable senior housing development at its May 4 meeting.

The committee concurred with the recommendation to evaluate an “interagency” loan to assist the construction of two affordable senior housing triplexes in the City of Dalton. It is intended that the North Fields of Dalton development be a pilot program for constructing additional affordable senior housing in communities across the county.

In discussions with the Vergas EDA/HRA, Otter Tail County requested two lots on the north side of Eva Street and after examining the options, the EDA/HRA agreed with that placement. According to Vergas Secretary-Treasurer Julie Lammers, Otter Tail County would rent and manage the homes.

The Vergas development of 11 lots is currently in the hands of the county. The Vergas EDA/HRA would give the requested lots to the county and the city would keep the other nine for a nominal fee that would require county board approval.