Thursday, November 20, 2014

Parks and Trails Legacy Advisory Committee seeks applicants

The Department of Natural Resources, the Metropolitan Council and the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission are seeking qualified applicants to serve on the Parks and Trails Legacy Advisory Committee.

“The Parks and Trails Legacy Advisory Committee plays a critical role in helping us achieve the vision Minnesotans have for use of the Parks and Trails Legacy Funds and creates an accessible and equitable, integrated system of state and regional parks and trails in Minnesota,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.

The purpose of the Legacy Advisory Committee is to promote and coordinate implementation of the 25 Year Parks and Trails Legacy Plan. Funding recommendations for individual projects is not a part of this committee’s work. The plan can be found at www.legacy.leg.mn/funds/parks-trails-fund/plan.

The committee is made up of 17 members, including, to the practical extent possible, geographical and demographic representation. The committee has a mixture of park and trail professionals and citizens. Committee members should have expertise in two or more of the four strategic pillars of the plan:
  • Connect people and the outdoors.
  • Acquire land and create opportunities.
  • Take care of what we have.
  • Coordinate among partners.

Terms are two years with the option of serving two terms. Meetings are scheduled every two months and are located around the state and can be attended remotely.

Interested individuals should complete the application form online
(www.legacy.leg.mn/parks-and-trails-legacy-advisory-committee-member-application) or send applications to Darin Newman, Department of Natural Resources, Box 39, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155 or email to: darin.newman@state.mn.us.

The deadline for applications is Monday, Dec. 22. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

BBB Offers Tips to Black Friday Shoppers



Burnsville, MinnesotaNovember 19, 2014 –The Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner, and some retailers have already announced at least some of their Black Friday deals. Though more and more stores are opening their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday – will remain one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is offering advice for people making plans to capitalize on Black Friday savings offers.

“Though the impact of Black Friday shopping might be at least somewhat diluted with some stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, we still believe it will be a day where many folks will focus their holiday shopping – and bargain-hunting – efforts,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.

The National Retail Federation forecasts that holiday sales will increase by more than 4% this year. As always, retailers will compete feverishly to get shoppers to visit their stores – and their websites! Whether you’ll be doing your holiday shopping on Black Friday or beyond, be sure to keep these BBB tips in mind to help ensure a satisfactory experience:

·         Research the company. Visit bbb.org or call 800-646-6222 to obtain free Business Reviews. Remember, BBB Business Reviews have been optimized for smartphones.

·         Getting the real deal.  Do you know if a sale is really a sale?  Many times companies boast “70 percent off,” but 70 percent off what? It always pays to comparison shop. If a company is advertising a “Going out of Business” sale, don’t automatically assume they are offering the best prices in town. Take the time to check prices on the same items at other stores. 

·         Search for Black Friday Ads Ahead of Time. Some retailers have ‘gone for it,’ announcing their Black Friday specials well in advance of Friday, November 28. Newspapers often have coupons that outline store discounts for Black Friday, and some specials are posted on the Internet. By keeping your eyes open and nose to the ground, you can sniff out deals others might miss.
·         Return policies, restocking fees and refunds.  Ask for the store’s return policy before you make your purchase. Companies are not required to give you your money back, but they need to post their return policy prominently near the cashier. Also, always ask about restocking fees, and save your receipts in one place so you don’t lose them.  Many companies will require you to produce a receipt for a return. Ask for a gift receipt.

·         Watch out for deals too good to be true. While many retailers offer ‘doorbusters’ – specials that are eye-opening – some websites offer suspiciously low prices on sought-after goods in an effort to entice shoppers into turning over their credit card information. Stick to trustworthy websites and look for the BBB seal and other recognized “trust marks.” Be sure to click on the seals to confirm they are valid.

·         Gift cards. Gift cards regularly top consumers’ wish lists. Federal rules govern gift card sales, and those rules state:

o   An inactivity fee cannot be charged until the card has not been used for 12 months.
o   Gift cards cannot expire for at least 5 years.
o   No more than one fee (of any kind) can be charged to the cardholder in a single month.
o   Information printed on the card must disclose fees and expiration date and provide a toll-free phone number or website where you can get more information.
o   A one-time fee can be charged when you buy the card, though this generally only applies to gift cards purchased through your credit card company – not those purchased directly from stores and restaurants.
o   If you receive a gift card, you should redeem it promptly if, possible.

Finally, consumers should keep in mind there will be many more opportunities for savings as we go through the long holiday season.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Extension launches 2014 Farm Bill crops education seminars



MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (Nov. 11, 2014)—In December, University of Minnesota Extension and the Farm Service Agency will begin a series of  73 free education seminars to help crop producers understand decisions necessitated by the 2014 Farm Bill.

Crop producers have until March 31, 2015 to make decisions required by the farm bill, including the choice among three new risk management programs. They will be locked into a decision that lasts five years.

The seminars are offered in 72 counties and will be led by Extension educators and FSA; no registration is required. Details are available by going to www.extension.umn.edu. The farm bill repeals several previous programs, including direct payments for most crops. It covers the following crops grown in Minnesota: corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, canola, sunflowers, oats, sorghum, lentils, dry peas, garbanzo beans and flax.

Producers and landowners will need to work closely on program decisions, Klair added. For instance, yield updates and base acre reallocations are landowner decisions, he noted, while other program decisions are made by the farm operator.  

Seminars in our region include:
(County, City, Site, Date, Time)

Wilkin Breckenridge Grace Lutheran Church Tue, Dec 02, 2014 1:00 - 3:30

Norman Ada Tubby's Tavern Wed, Dec 03, 2014 9:30 - 12:00

Becker Detroit Lakes Holiday Inn Thu, Dec 04, 2014 8:30 - 11:00

Kittson Hallock City Hall Mon, Dec 15, 2014 9:00 - 11:30

Pennington Thief River Falls Quality Inn Tue, Dec 16, 2014 8:30 - 11:00

Polk Crookston Crookston Inn Tue, Dec 16, 2014 1:30 - 4:00

Clearwater Clearbrook Community Center (Old School) Wed, Dec 17, 2014 9:00 - 11:30

Roseau/Lake of Woods Roseau Roseau City Office Building Thu, Dec 18, 2014 9:00 - 11:30

Clay Moorhead Courtyard by Marriot Tue, Jan 06, 2015 1:00 - 3:30

Otter Tail Fergus Falls Big Wood Event Center Wed, Jan 07, 2015 8:30 - 11:00

Red Lake Red lake Falls American Legion Wed, Jan 07, 2015 1:30 - 4:00

Beltrami Blackduck Golf Course Clubhouse Thu, Jan 08, 2015 8:30 - 11:00

Mahnomen Mahnomen White Earth Tribal College Tue, Jan 13, 2015 9:00 - 11:30

Polk McIntosh Community Center Tue, Jan 13, 2015 1:30 - 4:00


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hunters register 54,000 deer during first weekend

Minnesota hunters registered 54,000 deer during the first three days of firearms deer season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Final numbers from the weekend show that the number of deer registered dropped 30,000 from 2013. So far this year, including special hunts and the archery season, hunters have harvested 67,000 deer, down from the 2013 to-date harvest total of 100,000.

“Comparing this year’s harvest to harvests in previous years doesn’t necessarily reflect hunter opportunity or the number of deer on the landscape in 2014,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. This year’s lower harvest is by design because regulations were implemented to place more deer – particularly does – off limits to increase Minnesota’s deer population.

The DNR’s ongoing deer management work also includes upcoming revisions to the deer population goals for large portions of northeastern, north-central and east-central Minnesota. This is part of a multi-year goal-setting process for the entire state. People interested in helping set these deer population goals can get more information on the process and opportunities for involvement at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

In much of Minnesota, the deer season continues through Sunday, Nov. 16. Additional deer will be harvested during the northern rifle zone season, which continues through Sunday, Nov. 23; the late southeastern season, which runs Saturday, Nov. 22, through Sunday, Nov. 30; and the muzzleloader season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 29, and continues through Sunday, Dec. 14.

Monday, November 10, 2014

BBB Offers New Resource to Veterans, Service members





Burnsville, MN – November 10, 2014 – As part of their outreach to the military community, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota’s local Military Line (BBB) program has partnered with the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance to create a specially-designed tri-fold handout containing tips on scams targeting service members and their families, as well as a list of community resources they can turn to when they have questions, concerns or need assistance.

The handout, which will first be distributed at a MACV StandDown event in Mankato on Wednesday, November 12 – and then made widely available to the military community - is designed in muted colors, to be user-friendly for veterans suffering from symptoms due to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Reports indicate that up to 20 percent of returning veterans exhibit symptoms of having sustained traumatic brain injuries. People suffering from these symptoms find brighter colors and densely-worded materials off-putting and have difficulty processing information formatted in standard fashion.

“This information is important to all service members and veterans, and when we designed this handout, we did so in such a way that it would be accessible to all,” said Lisa Jemtrud, Director of BBB’s Institute for Marketplace Ethics. “Our goal is to reach and help protect everyone, but especially those that need our help most.”

BBB’s new handout for veterans and servicemembers, as well as their families and caregivers, includes:
·         Tips on scams targeting military personnel and their families – and how to avoid them
·         An index of resources available to veterans
·         Information on payday loans and pension scams
·         A list of Do’s and Don’ts designed to protect personal information and help ensure financial security

For more than two years, BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota staff has made presentations at more than 100 events, reaching 10,000-plus people through workshops and military expos. BBB regularly provides information regarding employment scams at job fairs, offers resources to struggling veterans at StandDown events, conducts workshops on buying a car to veterans transitioning from various support programs and educates service members and their families on how to be smart consumers in today's fast-paced economy.