Monday, October 17, 2016

Deer hunters encouraged to buy license early

With nearly 500,000 firearms deer hunters in the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to purchase their licenses early to avoid long lines and any potential system issues associated with the high sales volume. The 2016 Minnesota firearms deer season begins Saturday, Nov. 5.

“Don’t wait until the last minute to buy a deer license. There can be long lines of people waiting to buy licenses in the days before deer opener. Last year we sold more than 145,000 licenses the Thursday and Friday before opener,” said Steve Michaels, DNR licensing program director. “Buy early and you can spend more time getting ready to hunt and enjoying time with family and friends.”

Deer licenses can be purchased at DNR license agents across Minnesota, by phone at 888-665-4236 or online at There are additional fees for telephone and internet transactions. Deer licenses and tags ordered by phone and internet take three to five business days to arrive, so hunters who choose these options should allow enough time for delivery. Hunters must have a valid deer license and tag in their possession when hunting deer.

Hunters need to be familiar with deer hunting regulations, which are available at any DNR license agent or online at License questions should be directed to the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.Maintaining quality habitat to support an appropriate population level is good for deer, deer hunters and the habitats that sustain them. Deer populations, which vary in density from place to place and year to year are influenced by the severity of winter weather. Deer are ecologically, socially and economically important in a state where hunting and wildlife watching generate more than $1.3 billion in annual economic impact.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Klobuchar Now Accepting Applications for Military Service Academies

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has announced that she is now accepting applications for young Minnesotans interested in attending the nation’s military service academies. Each year, Klobuchar has the honor of nominating candidates to enroll at the United States Air Force Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, West Point, and the Naval Academy. The application deadline for the academy classes graduating in 2021 is 5 p.m. on Friday, October 28, 2016.

"Each year it is my honor to nominate some of Minnesota’s most talented and skilled young people for selection to attend our four service academies,” Klobuchar said. “I look forward to helping this year’s applicants as they pursue entry into these distinguished institutions and begin their careers of service to this country.”
To be considered for a nomination, candidates should have a strong academic background, participation in school and community activities (particularly leadership positions), a high standard of physical fitness, and a desire to be challenged to the fullest. You can review specific requirements and download an application at
To apply for a nomination from Senator Klobuchar send a completed application to Senator Amy Klobuchar, Attn. Nominations Coordinator, 1200 Washington Avenue South, Suite 250, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Voter Pre-Registration Deadline One Week Away

SAINT PAUL — Today, Secretary of State Steve Simon is reminding Minnesotans that the deadline to pre-register to vote for the November 8 General Election is one week away—Tuesday, October 18. Currently, 3,204,503 Minnesotans are registered to vote, the largest number Minnesota has ever seen ahead of Election Day. 
Eligible Minnesotans can register to vote online at until 11:59 p.m. on October 18, or return a paper voter registration application to the Office of the Secretary of State or their local elections office by 5 p.m. Voters who do not pre-register may register at their polling place on Election Day. 
Voter registration applications are also available at every state agency, all 87 county offices throughout the state, and online in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Vietnamese, Russian, Chinese, Lao, Oromo, Khmer, Amharic, and Karen. To request an application in an alternative format such as Braille, please call 1-877-600-8683
Minnesotans who are already registered to vote can confirm that their voter registration information is up to date at, and should encourage their friends, family and co-workers to do the same. While Minnesota has more than 3.2 million registered voters, there are an additional 800,000 citizens who are eligible but have not yet registered to vote.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Cold weather heating assistance and budget protection available to Minnesotans with limited incomes

SAINT PAUL — As the heating season kicks in, the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) encourage Minnesotans to contact their utilities now to learn more about the Cold Weather Rule that protects residential utility customers from having their heat shut off during the winter months.
The rule takes effect on October 15 and continues through April 15, 2017.
To prevent heating disconnection, customers must first contact their utility to establish and maintain a monthly payment plan.  All electric and natural gas companies are required to offer Cold Weather Rule protection.
“The Cold Weather Rule and our Energy Assistance Program are here to provide an essential safety net to protect Minnesotans from losing heat during the coldest months of the year,” said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “No Minnesotan should be left out in the cold.”
Under the Cold Weather Rule, customers who have a combined household income at or below 50 percent of the state median income ($47,194 for a family of four) are not required to pay more than 10 percent of their household income toward current and past heating bills. Others are also eligible to arrange a Cold Weather Rule payment plan.
Minnesotans who need to reconnect for winter should contact their utility now to take advantage of the payment options. The Cold Weather Rule is administered by the PUC.
“The Cold Weather Rule is a safeguard for the most vulnerable Minnesotans during our challenging winters,” said PUC Chair Beverly Jones Heydinger. “It ensures that households in need are safe, warm and healthy. By working out a payment plan with their utility, Minnesota families with financial challenges can still keep their heat on.”
Minnesota consumers using delivered fuels such as fuel oil, propane or wood to heat their homes are not covered by the Cold Weather Rule. However, they are encouraged to contact the companies that serve them to discuss payment options if they are concerned about their ability to pay for fuel. For example, a new law requires propane distributors to offer all customers a budget plan.
More information on the Cold Weather Rule is available at the Public Utilities Commission website or by calling 651-296-0406 or 800-657-3782.

Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program

In addition to the Cold Weather Rule, Minnesota offers the Energy Assistance Program to help pay home heating costs. The Minnesota Commerce Department administers the program in partnership with 30 local service providers throughout the state. It is federally funded through the Low
Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program helps homeowners and renters earning at or below 50 percent of the state’s median income ($47,194 for a family of four) pay their heating bills.  The average annual payment per household last year was about $500. Households with seniors, people with disabilities, veterans and children are especially encouraged to apply.
Applications were recently sent to households that qualified for energy assistance last year.  Others who may qualify are encouraged to apply by contacting the local service provider in their county by calling 800-657-3710.  Information is also available at the Commerce Department’s Energy Assistance Program webpage.
Minnesota consumers using delivered fuels to heat their homes are eligible for the Energy Assistance Program, even though they are not covered by the Cold Weather Rule.

Weatherization Assistance Program

The Commerce Department also administers the Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides energy efficiency improvements to reduce energy costs for needy households that meet income eligibility guidelines. Both homeowners and renters may apply for weatherization assistance. Call 800-657-3710 for information.

Other forms of help

Other forms of heating assistance may be available through county social service programs, community-based organizations, and nonprofit agencies.

Energy-saving tips

The Commerce Department’s Division of Energy Resources offers energy-saving information that every household can use to help control heating costs. Some basic no-cost and low-cost energy-saving recommendations include:
  • Weather strip and caulk windows and doors to keep warm air in and cold air out.
  • Cover drafty windows with tightly sealed plastic.
  • Open curtains and blinds on south-facing windows to let the sun in during the day to naturally heat your home.
  • Seal air leaks to prevent cold air for entering through chimneys, vents, pipes and wires that penetrate walls, ceilings and attics.
  • Close your fireplace damper when a fire is not in use to prevent warm air from escaping.
  • Maintain your heating system. Have annual furnace or boiler inspections, clean or replace furnace filters regularly, and consider replacing old heating systems with more efficient ENERGY STAR® models.
  • Use a programmable thermostat. Set your thermostat to automatically turn down the heat at night and when nobody is home.
More energy-saving tips can be found at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energysaver webpages. For more information on reducing energy use in your home, check out the Commerce Department’s Home Energy Guide.

Commerce is here to help

If you have a question about energy, contact the Minnesota Commerce Department’s Energy Information Center at 800-657-3710.

Friday, September 30, 2016

MnDOT announces availability of $7.5 million in grants for local community projects

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota communities, schools and their partners are invited to apply for funding for local projects that enhance transportation goals, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

A total of $7.5 million is available through the Transportation Alternatives solicitation.

The funding is for Greater Minnesota communities, schools and regional agencies to fund pedestrian and bicycle facilities, historic preservation, Scenic Byways and Safe Routes to School programs.

The Metropolitan Council conducts a biennial solicitation for the seven-county Twin Cities Metro Area applications.

To apply, applicants must submit a letter of intent describing the key components of their project by Oct. 31. A regional representative will contact applicants to help review the project proposal, determine eligibility and outline the steps necessary for delivering a federally funded project. The full application is due Jan. 13, 2017. Grant recipients will be announced April 17, 2017.

Last year, 21 local communities received Transportation Alternatives grants totaling more than $7.6 million.

For grant details see the Transportation Alternatives website at

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Highway 9 detour removed between Ada and Borup

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Motorists can once again travel on Highway 9 between Ada and Borup as the detour has been lifted and the project is complete.

The detour, which began May 23, allowed crews to replace the bridge over the Wild Rice River.

Redstone Construction completed the $2.6 million project, which created a higher clearance over the Wild Rice River. It will reduce flooding potential and ensure a safer roadway for motorists in the region.

For real-time traffic and travel information anywhere in Minnesota, visit, call 5-1-1 or log on to