Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tribute to Civilian Conservation Corps At 3 State Parks

Michigan-based author and songwriter Bill Jamerson will present the “Dollar a Day Boys” program, a music and storytelling program about the Civilian Conservation Corps, at Itasca, Buffalo River and Lake Bemidji state parks over Memorial Day weekend.
Jamerson has presented at CCC reunions around the country and at dozens of state and national parks. The presentation includes storytelling, reading excerpts from his novel and performing original songs with his guitar. 
“The program is as entertaining as it is important; as honest as it is fun,” said Jamerson. “It is about people both ordinary and extraordinary, with stories of strength, wit and charm.”
Program schedule:
  • Itasca State Park (Park Rapids) - Friday, May 26, 7 to 8 p.m., at the Forest Inn.
  • Buffalo River State Park (Glyndon) – Saturday, May 27, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., at park picnic shelter.
  • Lake Bemidji State Park (Bemidji) – Sunday, May 28, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., at the amphitheater.
A question-and-answer period and book signing will follow the presentations. People are encouraged to bring CCC photo albums and memorabilia if they have any.
Jamerson will also present a 45-minute children’s lumberjack show at Lake Bemidji State Park on Sunday, May 28, at 10 a.m. at the park Dining Hall. With guitar in hand and dressed in costume, Jamerson will tell stories about the lumberjack experience in Minnesota and sing traditional songs about working in the woods, living in a bunkhouse, work ethics, hardships of river drives and the importance of camp food.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a federal works program created by President Franklin Roosevelt in the heart of The Great Depression. During its nine-year run from 1933-1942, 2.6 million men enrolled across the country including 86,000 in Minnesota. An average of 51 camps operated in Minnesota each year with a total financial obligation of $85 million.
Itasca State Park was a site for one of the many CCC camps. The “C”s planted more than 180 million trees in Minnesota, fought hundreds of forest fires, released several billion fish in rivers and lakes, built hundreds of dams and bridges and constructed thousands of miles of roads.
Other state parks constructed by the "C"s include St. Croix, Lac qui Parle, Gooseberry Falls, Whitewater, Interstate and Flandrau. Camp Rabideau in Blackduck, north of Bemidji, is still standing and contains many original CCC buildings. It is one of the finest camp restorations in the nation.
Aside from his songs, Jamerson has written a book and several articles on the CCC, as well as produced 11 PBS films.
For more information visit mndnr.gov/state_parks, or visit Jamerson’s website at billjamerson.com.

ATV riders can explore Minnesota trails for free June 2-4



Minnesotans with an all-terrain vehicle registered for private or agricultural use won’t need to pay the additional registration fee ($53.50 for three years) to ride the state’s public ATV trails June 2-4, according to the Department of Natural Resources. 
Out-of-state riders can explore Minnesota ATV trails that weekend as well, without the need for a nonresident trail pass ($21 annually). This is the fourth year that Minnesota is providing ATV riders with free access to more than 3,000 milesof state forest and grant-in-aid trails during “No Registration Weekend.”
“We see this weekend as a great opportunity to showcase the wide variety of state and grant-in-aid trails across Minnesota,” said Mary Straka, off-highway vehicle program consultant. “There are a large number of privately registered ATVs across the state, and we encourage them to explore the public trails for free June 2-4.”
Some great places to start, according to Straka, include:
  • The Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area, a 1,200-acre OHV park in Gilbert with 36 miles of scenic trails for riders of all abilities. The recreation area will have special programs, rides and displays on Saturday, June 4.
  • The 100-mile trail system in Nemadji State Forest, which connects to the Matthew Lourey State Trail and the Gandy Dancer Trail for more riding opportunities.
  • The 29-mile Spider Lake trail system in Foot Hills State Forest, where riders can curve around lakes and ponds, go up and down a variety of hills, and view overlooks from the ridges throughout the forest.
  • The 200-mile Northwoods Regional Trail System in Aitkin and Itasca counties, where riders can use the Soo Line Trail to connect to great communities and trail loops.
The DNR advises riders to keep safety in mind when out on the trails. In particular:
  • Safety training is required for ATV riders born after July 1, 1987, and it is recommended for everyone that operates an ATV.
  • Kids under age 18 must wear a DOT-certified helmet.
  • Kids age 16 and under must fit the ATV they are operating and be able to properly reach and control the handlebars and reach the foot pegs while sitting upright on the ATV.
Trail maps, updates on trail conditions, youth ATV Safety training and other OHV information can be found online at www.mndnr.gov/ohv.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Depr of Revenue highlights tax benefits available to military members


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- May is National Military Appreciation Month and the Minnesota Department of Revenue reminds members of the military and their families about the many valuable state tax benefits available to them.

“Minnesota offers military service members – past and present – tax benefits as a way to show appreciation for the sacrifices they have made. We want to make sure military members and veterans have all the information they need to claim the credits that are available to them and their families,” said Revenue Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly.

The department has a dedicated webpage for members of the military. This is a centralized spot for members of the military to learn about military tax benefits and find information on claiming the credits they are entitled to:

  • New in 2016 - Military Pension Subtraction. Certain military retirement pay (including pensions) can be subtracted from your Minnesota taxable income.
  • Credit for Military Service in a Combat Zone. You may qualify for this credit if you served in a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area on or after January 1, 2013.
  • Credit for Past Military Service. If you are a veteran of the U.S. military, including the National Guard and Reserves, you may qualify for a tax credit of up to $750 for your past service.
  • Active-Duty Military Pay Subtraction. Members of the military who are Minnesota residents may subtract federally taxable active-duty military pay when determining their Minnesota tax.
  • Filing Extensions. If you are serving in the U.S. military and cannot file or pay your Minnesota income tax by the due date, you may be eligible for an extension.
  • Market Value Exclusion on Homesteads of Disabled Veterans. If you are an honorably discharged veteran who has a service-connected disability rating of 70 percent or higher, you may qualify for a property tax exclusion on your homestead.

You can check out our military tax tips video and sign up for our email subscription service to receive up-to-date military information.

If you have questions, contact us by email at individual.incometax@state.mn.us or phone at 651-296-3781 or 1-800-652-9094 (toll-free).   

Monday, May 15, 2017

DNR seeks comments on environmental review of project



The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments through June 14 on an environmental assessment worksheet for the Hawkes Company Peat Mining Mercil Site project.

Hawkes Company is planning to expand its current peat mining activities in New Maine Township in Marshall County. The expansion area is a 299-acre rich fen and upland site located about 1.5 miles southeast of the company’s current operations. Of this 299-acre site, 198 acres have recoverable peat resources. Peat mined from this site would be used in the base of high-quality turf in various sporting arenas and golf courses worldwide.
An environmental assessment worksheet is a document that provides basic information about a project that may have the potential for significant environmental effects.

A copy of the document is available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/hawkes/index.html.

Additional copies may be requested by calling 651-259-5110.

A copy of the EAW is available for public review at:
* DNR Northwest Region Headquarters, 2115 Birchmont Beach Road NE, Bemidji, MN 56601-8599.
* Crookston Public Library, 110 North Ash Street, Crookston, MN 56716.
* Thief River Falls Public Library, 102 First Street East, Thief River Falls, MN 56701.
* DNR Library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155.
* Minneapolis Central Library, Government Documents, 2nd Floor, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1992.

The EAW notice is being published in the May 15 EQB Monitor. Written comments on the EAW must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, to the attention of Lisa Fay, principal planner, Environmental Policy and Review Unit, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.

Electronic or e-mail comments may be sent to environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us with “Hawkes Peat EAW” in the subject line. If submitting comments electronically, include name and mailing address. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 651-296-1811.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

MnDOT urges caution in work zones as anglers head for fishing opener



ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota walleye fishing opener this weekend will bring out anglers from around the state, increasing car, truck and boat trailer traffic on the state’s highways. The Minnesota Department of Transportation urges motorists to plan ahead and use extra care while driving through highway work zones. 

Motorists may encounter bypasses, lane closures and detours resulting from the more than 200 transportation projects that are underway this construction season. MnDOT recommends that motorists be prepared for slower moving traffic, think about alternate routes, and call 5-1-1 or go to www.511mn.org to get information about road construction detours. 
Highway projects that may affect weekend travel May 12-14 include:
Twin Cities
·         Interstate 94 between St. Paul and Woodbury – intermittent lane closures and ramp closures
·         I-94 between Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center – lane closures and slow traffic
·         Eastbound I-94 at Highway 610 Maple Grove – closed 8 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday
·         Highway 169 Golden Valley to Edina – detour
·         I-694 between Arden Hills and Vadnais Heights – two lanes in each direction, eastbound lanes separated by concrete median barrier

Central Minnesota
·         Westbound I-94 in St. Augusta – reduced to single lane until 10 a.m. Friday.
·         Highway 25 Foley – detour
·         Highway 71 closed in Elrosa – detour
·         Highway 238 south of Upsala – detour

Northern Minnesota
·         I-35 Pine County – all northbound lanes open by 1 p.m. Friday, southbound open by 7 p.m. Saturday
·         Highway 53 relocation project in Virginia – single lane in each direction
·         Highway 10 in Detroit Lakes – lane closures

West central Minnesota
·         Highway 4 Cosmos – detour
·         Highway 22 Litchfield – detour

Southern Minnesota
·         I-35 bridge replacements south of Owatonna – single lane in each direction
·         I-90 between Sherburn and Fairmont – lane and speed restrictions
·         Highway 22 Mapleton to Blue Earth CR 15 – detour
·         Highway 52 between Rochester and Rosemount – lane closures


There will be heavier traffic in the St. Cloud area as the annual governor’s fishing opener will occur on the Mississippi River in the area.
MnDOT urges motorists to be attentive, drive with caution, slow down in work zones and never enter a road blocked with barriers or cones.

For a complete list of projects, including construction dates and traffic impacts, visit www.mndot.gov/roadwork/current.html. Motorists may also sign up to receive email updates for major projects at www.mndot.gov/emailupdates.