Patrolling the Ottertail: Sheriff fed up with out-of-control tubers

Multiple calls to the Ottertail River and a few minor fights in town surfaced during the Fourth of July this year, and the volume of calls was consistent with the holiday being on a Wednesday.

Multiple calls to the Ottertail River and a few minor fights in town surfaced during the Fourth of July this year, and the volume of calls was consistent with the holiday being on a Wednesday.

That doesn't mean there weren't some problems, though.

"It was hot. It was miserable. There was too much alcohol consumed by too many people," Sheriff Tim Gordon said. "But, other than that, it was the Fourth of July, as they say."

He said the crowds and traffic were a little lighter due to it being a mid-week holiday, and it was typical of what they planned for.

"Nothing extraordinary, nothing under ordinary," he said.


Multiple calls to the Ottertail River tubing area were a cause of concern, though.

Too much drinking in the hot sun was the cause of medical issues and fights, Gordon said.

"I'm going to be visiting with the county commissioners at the end of this season regarding controls over next year," he said. "There's absolutely no oversight from the (tubing business) owners, so I guess it's time the county steps in. It's putting too much of a demand on this department."

Whether it is increased restrictions, requiring security at the river or whatever action needs to be taken, some changes need to be made, he added.

"I can't have five officers out there non-stop," he said. "I'm fed up with it. I'm on the other side of angry on this."

Within the city limits though, things were better.

"Overall it was good," Detroit Lakes Police Chief Tim Eggebraaten said.

He said there was a steady flow of people Monday and Tuesday, and then late Tuesday night-early Wednesday morning got busy, but there was still nothing major.


"There were no major assaults. Some pushing matches but nothing that rose to the level of felony assault," he said.

The police department did arrest a few people for disorderly conduct for fights.

Traffic was steady, with lots of families in the park and on the beach. Over the years, Eggebraaten said, the scene and reputation of Detroit Lakes has changed from a party city to a more family oriented area.

"It's a good mixture of safety and entertainment," he said. There are people of all ages and "everyone is enjoying what we have to offer."

The lakes saw plenty of activity as well -- mostly good with some bad as well.

"There was a lot of boating activity, a lot of reckless behavior, careless behavior, dangerous behavior," Gordon added.

There were multiple calls to area lakes. A hit-and run boating accident Wednesday evening on Big Cormorant Lake seriously injured a West Fargo man.

The sheriff's office is looking for information on that accident and the boat that crashed into another and then fled the scene. (See separate story in this issue.)


Eggebraaten said one thing he'd like to look at for next year is handicap accessibility to Detroit Lake, especially during the fireworks. He took comments this year regarding the issue and said he plans to have some meetings to discuss possibilities for future events.

Once the Fourth celebration was over, the public works department took down all the "no left turn" signs, and other parking restrictions have been lifted.

Law enforcement has returned to normal for the remainder of the week.

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