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Forum Focus: Firefighter rescue, Otter Tail County moves ice concerts, Corn Palace murals stopped, Snowmobile exhibition

• Backus, Minnesota firefighters save a homeowner from fire

A fire at this property could have had fatal consequences for the owner if not for the quick response of two Backus firefighters who pulled him from the fire in the nick of time. Submitted Photo

When the Backus Fire Department was called to a fire at 5:15 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, in Ponto Lake Township, firefighters knew to expect a deck fire. But the fire on the scene was far worse and nearly fatal for the man inside.

"The neighbors told us he was in the basement," said Fire Chief Jason Smith. "Two guys went down by the basement door where it was fully engulfed. They could see him in the doorway. He got out as far as he could and fell down. They had to grab him and drag him out of there. They definitely risked their lives by doing it. I think in another minute and a half or two minutes he would have been dead or burned very badly. He was very lucky and very appreciative."

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• Otter Tail County move ice concerts to Thumper Pond Resort due to ice conditions on Otter Tail Lake

OTC on Ice 2019.jpg
The crowd from OTC on Ice 2019 enjoyed the different musical acts. The music will go on at the 2020 event but just in the parking lot of Thumper Pond Resort in Ottertail instead of on the ice of Otter Tail Lake. Submitted photo

Due to inconsistent ice conditions on Otter Tail Lake, Otter Tail County on Ice planning committee has decided to move the large music tent to the parking lot of Thumper Pond Resort in Ottertail, according to an Otter Tail County news release.

"We were holding out hope that we could have the main tent on the lake, however, we felt it was in everyone's best interest to make the move," event manager Erik Osberg said in the release. "We've been checking ice thickness frequently and we've found spots on Otter Tail with as much as 18 inches of ice, we've also found spots with as little as 9 inches. The heavy snow has hindered ice formation and led to a lot of slush and water on top of the ice.

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• Winter halts Corn Palace decorating in Mitchell, South Dakota, 2020 murals on hiatus

The Corn Palace will temporarily suspended finishing the murals once the George McGovern campaign button from 1972 mural is finished until later this spring. Matt Gade / Republic

The white flag has been temporarily hoisted on finishing the Corn Palace murals this winter.


Still reeling from a wet 2019 that made planting and harvesting difficult, completing the landmark murals on Mitchell's biggest tourist attraction will have to wait until summer. The soggy harvest slowed down the late summer and fall process of affixing corn to the murals, and now four unfinished 2020 murals will have to wait until spring weather cooperates to be finished.

Corn Palace Director Doug Greenway made the decision to postpone the decorating on the south side of the building, even after the facility hired six additional part-time employees to help finish the project in late 2019. It's believed to be the first time that the mural decorating has stretched into the following summer season.

“The decision is a reflection of the tough agriculture production season we experienced this year, and it’s no secret it’s been an extremely challenging year,” said Greenway, who is in his fourth month as the Corn Palace Director. "It's been a frustrating year for the decoration process."

Read more from The Daily Republic

• Snowmobile enthusiasts play in deep snow

Sledders on vintage snowmobiles make their way around a race course Saturday, Jan. 18, at Trailside Park in Pequot Lakes during the annual Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Though anglers and commuters alike have likely cursed the deep snow on the ground in Pequot Lakes, those who attended the Pequot Brush Pilots Snowmobile Club's 26th-anniversary Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous were likely on cloud nine.

Not only has the ground been covered with snow leading up to the event, but a fresh layer of fluffy snow fell between Friday, Jan. 17, and Saturday, Jan. 18, as the event was beginning. There were 117 vintage sleds on the noon trail ride Jan. 17 in Pequot Lakes, and racers and general enthusiasts alike took full advantage on the snow Jan. 18 when the event's performance demonstrations took place in Trailside Park. That day also featured 214 sleds in a show along the Paul Bunyan Trail.


Honorary guests at the banquet at the American Legion included Bev and Ray Speckel, of Ideal Corners, and Carolyn Buss, a founding member of the Pequot Brush Pilots.

Read more from the Brainerd Dispatch

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