Brian Hansel/Daily Journal

City Street Department personnel worked on a water main break Tuesday morning on South Mill Street. The need to shut off water to the area affected the Otter Tail County Courthouse, Bimbo Bakeries and several businesses on Mill Street south of Washington Avenue.

Doug Cannell got a call at 4 a.m. Tuesday which meant trouble.

The city of Fergus Falls had to shut off water service to the Otter Tail County Courthouse because of a water main break on South Mill Street.

Cannell is facilities operations supervisor at the courthouse and his job touches the hundreds of people living, working and visiting the multi-story brick building in downtown Fergus Falls each day.

The county jail is housed in the building and between 80 and 90 inmates are housed there at any given time.

“I’ve been here 30 years and this has happened maybe three times,” Cannell said.

The early morning emergency necessitated some scrambling on the part of county officials. 

Six portable restroom facilities were lined up according to Cannell for use by inmates and county staff. In addition to the portable facilities, the Veteran’s Service and County Highway Department building located on South Court Street was made available. Cannell said the Fergus Falls Police Department, located across Junius Avenue from the courthouse, also volunteered its facilities. 

Drinking water for the jail was brought in by detention center director James Stewart. 

Public information officer Shannon Terry let county employees know about the problem and the need to bring their own drinking water. 

Fergus Falls Public Works Director Len Taylor said the break was first noticed Monday at 3:30 p.m. Work on repairing the break began early Tuesday morning.

Taylor said breaks can usually be repaired in six hours once work begins. 

“Typically we just put a repair sleeve around it and that seals it up tight,” Taylor said. 

In addition to the courthouse, Bimbo Bakeries, located on the east side of South Mill Street from the courthouse and several businesses on South Mill Street between Washington and Junius, were without water.



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