County 38 access from Balmi Cemetery into the city

Contributed photo
ATV riders will now have access into Wolf Lake along the right side of County Road 38 after the Becker County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance to allow access, along with the approval of the Wolf Lake City Council and the Wolf Lake Township board.

By Robert Williams


The Becker County Commissioners approved a Land Use Department request seeking approval to allow Class One ATVs to travel on the extreme right-hand side of County Road 38 from the Balmi Cemetery Road into the City of Wolf Lake during a public hearing at the Becker County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, March 19.

Currently, Minnesota Statute generally restricts class one ATVs from using the roadway, shoulder, and inside bank or slope of the county state-aid or county highway, but does allow for use by county ordinance.

The Wolf Lake City Council approved the use of County Highway 38 coming into and going out of Wolf Lake and would include an ATV ordinance so smaller ATV’s can also use Hwy 38 at the November 14, 2023 council meeting. 

The council also designated the location of the trail head north of the Wolf Lake city dumpsters area for parking vehicles, trailers, ATV’s, according to a letter submitted by City Clerk Debra Nerud.

Wolf Lake Township Chairman Harry Aho and Supervisors Roger Boyce and Mike Chapman also submitted written approval of the right of way use of 250 yards of the Balmi Cemetery Road, under the stipulation that the Woods & Wheels ATV Club contribute to the maintenance of the road. 

“We don’t want any damage to the road. We want it used with respect,” they stated in the letter. “Because there is the Balmi Cemetery on that road we want the trail riders to use respect if there is a funeral procession using the road. Any disrespect of this road will nullify this agreement”

The township also noted they have the right to review this agreement at any time if any issues arise.

The ordinance approval comes with the following regulations:

• The maximum speed of operation shall be 25 miles per hour.

• Direction of travel shall be in the same direction as vehicular traffic.

• Left turns may be made from any part of the road if it is safe to do so under the prevailing conditions.

• Operation shall not result in the spinning of tires or displacement of aggregate or soil material

• Groups of riders shall be in single-file formation.

• Hours of operation shall be limited to 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

• A person 12 years of age, but less than 16 years, must possess a valid all-terrain safety certificate issued by the commissioner of natural resources and must be accompanied by a person 18 year of age or older who is in possession of a valid driver’s license.

Violations of the ordinance include the following penalties:

• Any person found to have violated this ordinance, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

• Any person who refuses or fails to comply with the Order of the County Sheriff is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

• Any person who violates, disobeys, omits, neglects, or refuses to comply with, or resists the enforcement of any provisions of this Ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

White Earth 

Land Transfer

Commissioner Richard Vareberg suggested a joint county agreement across the state to combat issues like the recently proposed White Earth State Forest land transfer.

The land transfer bill was tabled by the Minnesota Senate Environment, Climate and Legacy Committee after receiving opposing testimonies at the capitol from members of the county board, Sheriff Todd Glander, and Sens. Steve Green, R-Fosston, and Rob Kupec, DFL-Moorhead, among others.

Vareberg stated that joining together with other counties would cut expenses, like currently paying for a lobbyist and increase the voices of the communal counties.

“If we all get together, we can maybe prevent this from happening,” Vareberg said. “This isn’t over. We need to get ahead of it.”

Commissioner Barry Nelson agreed, noting that Becker County needs to work directly with Mahnomen and Clearwater Counties, as those that are directly affected by the proposed transfer.

According to Interim County Administrator Carrie Smith she has received interest from both counties on collaborating on this issue.

During the meeting’s open forum, T&S Dock and Lift owner Todd Simison and Jerry Strand appeared before the board to thank individual members, Sheriff Todd Glander, Sens. Green and Kupec for their testimony at the capitol in regards to the land transfer.

Glander proposed a potential moratorium on sale of tax-forfeited land for discussion.

Nelson noted that those sales have to be approved by the county board and the state and a moratorium would be unnecessary when the board could just as easily agree not to sell properties.

Commissioners Okeson, Jepson and Smith will be meeting with the White Earth tribe remotely via Teams next week. This drew fire from Commissioner Nelson.

“I would encourage the tribe that if they are serious about working with the county and trying to find solutions that you have in-person meetings,” he said. “This is silly in my book if you’re going to do a Teams meeting on this topic. You’re not really interested in finding any solutions.”

Chairman Okeson agreed and would like to have the entire board meeting with the tribal council face-to-face.


Becker County Museum Executive Director Becky Mitchell reported a big increase in utilization of the new museum from both members and the general public. She also noted the museum could use one more staff member as the current staff adjusts to operating in the now much larger building.

Inflationary increases have also affected the museum, in terms of utility and insurance costs.

“We’re trying to maintain that at a museum-quality environment, so that is a stable environment, which is really hard when you live in an environment like this,” Mitchell said. 

Insurance costs rose from $8,000 to $25,000 between the former and new building. 

Mitchell has identified increasing membership dues and holding more events as a way to counteract the costs, but staffing issues are currently holding back having some of those events. Growing the gift shop is another source of potential revenue.

The board discussed future payment options of utilities at the museum. The board approved reimbursing the museum for increased insurance costs totaling $10,412.

The museum board will be discussing future cost saving possibilities.


Detroit Lakes City Administrator Kelsey Klemm presented the accepted bid for the construction of the two new T-hangars at the airport. 

The low bidder was Nor-Son Construction with a base bid of $984,047. Nor-Son was also the low bidder when factoring a redesign of the roof structure to direct runoff from the roof to the short ends of the building instead of in front of the overhead doors. Nor-Son’s alternate bid was at a cost of $120,800, for a total construction bid of $1,104,847.

The cost of the improvements would be financed through a local loan placement, roughly totaling $1,300,000. 

The bids were approved with an agreement to discuss full financing at a later meeting, including a portion of the cost that is expected to be covered by a grant.

All of the existing airport hangars are paid off with the exception of the Life Link hangar and revenue from the existing hangars generated $166,932 in 2023. The revenue from the existing hangars and the revenue from the 12 new hangars are expected to cover the debt service payment on the new hangars.

Resolutions authorizing the project and its financing will be presented to both the county board and Detroit Lakes City Council. The hangars are anticipated to be constructed later this construction season, with completion in November.

Law Library

The board recognized retired Law Librarian Bill Wilson for his years of service.