Maplewood segment construction of HOTL Regional Trail to begin

Contributed photo
Commissioner Lahman, Commissioner Kurt Mortenson, Commissioner Bucholz, Kyle Westergard, Commissioner Rogness, and ESGR Assistant Director Ron Lindgren.

By Robert Williams


Otter Tail County’s commitment to supporting Guard and Reserve members was recognized by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) with the prestigious Patriot Award on Tuesday, March 12 in Fergus Falls. 

Contributed photo
Physical Plant Manager Terry Hoff announced his retirement from Otter Tail County, effective May 31, 2024, after 36 years of service, the last 13 as a department head.

This accolade highlights the county leadership’s dedication to fostering a supportive work environment for military personnel.

Region 1 ESGR Assistant Director Ron Lindgren presented the award to Kurt Mortenson, Chair of the Board of Commissioners. Mortenson is a former Assistant County Attorney with nearly 30 years of service to Otter Tail County.

In response to the recognition, Mortenson highlighted the value that Guard and Reserve members bring to Otter Tail County, appreciating their unique skills and leadership. 

“We are honored to receive the Patriot Award, which underscores our appreciation for the invaluable contributions of Guard and Reserve members to Otter Tail County,” said Mortenson. “Their dedication and  leadership enhance our organization in countless ways.”

The Patriot Award is a testament to individual supervisors’ support of Guard and Reserve members within an organization. It recognizes leadership’s role in accommodating flexible schedules, providing time off for deployment, and granting leaves of absence as needed.

Land and Resource Assistant Director Kyle Westergard, a recently retired military servicemember with nearly 42 years of active and reserve duty, nominated Otter Tail County for this honor. 

Westergard, who has had a successful career spanning 35 years at Otter Tail County, emphasized the county’s welcoming and supportive work culture. 

“I nominated Otter Tail County because of their unwavering support for Guard and Reserve members,” he said. “Their commitment to providing a flexible and supportive work environment is commendable.”

Otter Tail County expressed gratitude to Region1 ESGR Assistant Director Ron Lindgren and  ESGR for the Patriot Award. With this recognition, Otter Tail County reaffirms its commitment to supporting military personnel and fostering an inclusive workplace environment. Otter Tail County encourages Guard and Reserve members to consider career opportunities within the organization.


The Perham Masonic Lodge donated 11 Fire Suppression Tools earlier this year and an additional unit was donated from the Pelican Rapids Masonic Lodge, according to County Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons. The dozen tools will be used to equip half of the county’s 24 patrol squad cars.


The commissioners approved the recommendation of Parks & Trails Director Kevin Fellbaum to accept the bid from Mark Sand & Gravel Co. of Fergus Falls in the amount of $2,006,349.64 for the Maplewood segment of the Heart of the Lakes Regional Trail. The bid was the lowest of six bids that ranged up to $4.4 million. The engineer’s estimate for the project was $2,342,659.20. 

The county has $2.514 million of Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) grant funding available to cover the cost of the trail segment’s construction, according to Fellbaum.

A completion date for the trail segment is October 31, but with the warmer temperatures this week an earlier completion date is expected.

Solid Waste

The commissioners authorized the Solid Waste Department to sign a grant agreement from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). 

Otter Tail County Solid Waste received a $250,000 grant from the MPCS to purchase carts for the southeast quadrant and collection services for Battle Lake and Henning single sort recycling curbside project. 


County Administrator Nicole Hansen announced the retirement of Terry Hoff, Physical Plant Manager, effective May 31, 2024. Hoff has been employed with the county since March 21, 1988. Hoff was the department head for 13 of his 36 years and thanked county employees for trusting him with that position during a short, emotional speech.


OTC Coalition of Lake Associations Chair Sylvia Soeth thanked the board for their support before submitting a 90-page comprehensive review of the coalition and its responsibilities. 

More information is available at


Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist Spencer McGrew gave the commissioners the program’s annual report that included a summary of the program, spending, plans for 2024 and highlights of 2023.