Brekke named new County Assessor

Photo by Robert Williams
The grand opening of Wannigan Regional Park attracted hundreds, while the Thomas Dambo-installed troll has attracted thousands of visitors in just a few weeks. Tuesday, the Becker County Board of Commissioners submitted a letter of support for continued grant applications for phase I of development from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission.

By Robert Williams


Chairman John Okeson submitted a letter of support for Wannigan Regional Park, on behalf of the county, to the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission Members in regards to the City of Frazee’s application to the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. The support was approved at the meeting of the county commissioners on Tuesday, July 2.

This request is the culmination of a comprehensive park planning process with many volunteers and community members over multiple years. This first phase of development will bring substantial benefit to the entire region enhancing connectivity to regional amenities and offering exceptional recreational opportunities.

Wannigan Regional Park will be a nature-based park and connect with three unique recreational trails of statewide and national significance. Phase 1 Development will provide river access, tent camping, restroom, shower/bathhouse, a natural playground, as well as gravel road and parking facilities. The campground and shower/restroom building will be a restful stop for users of the North Country Trail. They may also venture to town and explore the many attractions of Frazee or continue along their journey.

The natural playground, river access, and public art will attract families from many miles to experience a restorative visit to forest and prairies of Wannigan Regional Park. The river access may offer children and adults a restful kayak experience on the Otter Tail River.

“We are fully supportive of the work of the volunteer team and this vital project, Okeson concluded. “We eagerly anticipate the development of Wannigan Regional Park and the positive impact it will have on our communities.”

Okeson attended the grand opening of the park and has been a vocal supporter of the project for years as the park’s purchase funding has accrued and the first phase of development begins.

“I just want to congratulate them,” said Commissioner Barry Nelson. “It looks like it’s going well.”


Lee Brekke was named the new county’s assessor. Brekke comes to the job with decades of experience, most recently as the county assessor in Wadena County.

Brekke began his employment on Monday, July 1, having submitted his resignation to the Wadena County Board a fortnight earlier. Brekke was with Wadena County for two decades since April 2004.

According to County Administrator Carrie Smith, Interim Becker County Assessor Nancy Gunderson will stay on with the county part-time to assist with the transition.

“Nancy has been very helpful,” Brekke said. “They all have.

Brekke noted that his wife is from Detroit Lakes and they have lived in Becker County since 2007.


County Highway Engineer Jim Olson submitted a policy on driver feedback (radar speed) signs on county roads.

“We get a number of requests, usually from Lake Associations and things like that, for areas where we have speed zones, roads that have reduced speed limits below the state statute of 55 miles-per-hour that have had a traffic study and its been reduced,” said Olson. “There are problems with speeding sometimes in those areas.”

The county has mobile signs that it uses to try to control speed in those areas. Requests have been made for full-time signs in some areas and the county board approved the purchase of two more feedback signs for that purpose.

One group made a donation to the department and the board approved an updated policy to accept donations, along with other specifics such as a mandated engineering recommendation to have a sign, adequate funding, cost share and sign maintenance. The signs are used seasonally and stored during winter months.

The board approved the purchase of two signs at a cost of $9,990 to be split between the Highway Department and the Sheriff’s Office.

Olson also submitted the annual report of the Highway Department,  highlighted by the completion of construction of the new Highway Building in Detroit Lakes. The department used $4.5 million of state aid funds to upgrade the facility.

According to Olson, the full report will be available online at

Olson updated the board on Frazee’s East Main construction project with pavement removal and underground utility work underway.

Parks & Trails

Seasonal Maintenance of Parks and Trails Facilities was approved for Becker County to maintain the following sites from May 1 through September 30, 2024.

Becker County – STATE ACCESSES (41)

Acorn Lake, Rock Lake, LaBelle Lake, Tilde Lake, Turtle Lake, Height-of-Land Lake, Little Cormorant Lake, Big Floyd Lake, Little Bemidji Lake, Little Sugarbush Lake, Monson Lake, Big Detroit Lake N & S, Island Lake, Middle Cormorant Lake, Little Floyd Lake, Round Lake, Buffalo Lake, Pickerel Lake, Marshall Lake, Boyer Lake, Big Cormorant Lake-North, Shell Lake, Upper Cormorant Lake, Long Lake-Airport Park, Leaf Lake, Pearl Lake, Lake Sallie, Lake Melissa, Big Cormorant West, Strawberry Lake, Meadow Lake, Big Toad Lake, Sivertson Lake, Lake Ida, Howe Lake, Hungry Lake, Bad Medicine Lake, Maud Lake, Little Toad Lake, Straight Lake.


Dunton Locks County Park, Mountain View Recreation Area, Perch Lake, Osage Swim Beach, Little Bass (CR 34), Wolf Lake/Sportsman Park, Middle Cormorant Swim Beach, Little Long Lake, Pine Grove Rest Area, Knutsen Park, S. Twin Lake, Height of Land Access (E), Shipman Lake, Bucks Mill Dam, Juggler Lake, Blueberry Lake, Chilton Park/Bass Lake

Sheriff’s Office

The board approved the Sheriff’s Office request for annual hiring of temporary personnel to handle traffic during WE Fest.

A personnel request was approved for one Full-time Jail Secretary and eliminating one permanent Part-time and one Variable Hour Part-time secretary position.

There is a need for office staffing at the jail during the county’s normal operating business hours. In addition, there is a need for staffing after normal business hours for assistance with visitation, fingerprinting, and other duties assigned.