Monday, January 24, 2011

a reminder from the MN State troopers

Here's a reminder from the MN State troopers that when stopping at a crash scene or event of similar nature to please use good judgment.

If the event/crash in on a divided highway (ie. I94, USTH10, USTH2, etc) please do not stop along the shoulder or median on the opposite side that state troopers are on. Please park on the same side and shoulder that troopers are on. Also DO NOT stop behind troopers, or other emergency personnel. It is generally best to park in front of all responders rather than in-between or behind. This blocks our emergency lights and other rescue efforts along with your safety. On I94, DO NOT use the emergency crossovers, those are for emergency vehicles. Go to the next exit to turn around. When in doubt, please check with on scene troopers as to whether it is safe to stop at the scene. Most are willing to help accommodate and get you the information. These guidelines also apply to regular two-lane roads for the most part.

FM Communiversity Classes

F/M Communiversity, a university for our community, is offering a variety of interesting courses during its Winter/Spring session, which runs from mid-January to mid-April. For people of all ages, it offers life-long learning in a setting free of tests, grades and papers. From topical issues to pleasurable classics in literature, music or the arts, F/M Communiversity has a class of interest to you. As well as a variety of topics, courses come in a variety of durations, from one to four sessions and are held on Saturdays or Sundays.
A sampling of the courses include
• Jane Austen on Film
• New Perspectives on the Civil War
• Judaism, Christianity and Islam – Three Faiths: One God?
• Legacy of Lake Agassiz: The Geology of the Red River Valley
• Communist China: Chaos and Consensus in 20th Century China
• When Americans Said it With a Song: Music of Tin Pan Alley
• Islam – Truth, Myths and Misinformation
• Great Decisions – A series of foreign policy discussions
• Changing the Face of Fargo-Moorhead: New Diversity
• Rockin the Bakken: That Loud Boom You Hear in Western North Dakota
• Faith and Form: A Brief History of Architecture for Religion
• The Role of Technology in Our Lives
• The Social Value of Work: Depression-Era Buildings
• In Good Company: Living with the Saints

For more information, go to, call 218.299.3438 or email F/M Communiversity is a program of Concordia College in cooperation with MSUM and NDSU.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Northwest Farm Managers Meeting Set for Feb. 2 in Fargo

The Northwest Farm Managers Association will hold its 102nd annual meeting for producers and others interested in agriculture on Feb. 2 at the Holiday Inn in Fargo.

Presentations will focus on organizing and managing farm businesses, grain markets and crop insurance, and managing wet ground.

A featured speaker will be Dick Witteman of Culdesac, Idaho. Witteman is past president of the Farm Financial Standards Council and USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council. He worked for the Farm Credit Administration in Washing├é¬ton, D.C., where he supervised Farm Credit operations in 17 states. At present, he is a farmer, consultant and faculty member for The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers at Texas A and M in Austin.

"Through years of consulting and managing a large farm, he has found that business practices and relationship problems, not economic issues, often are the reason family operations dissolve," says Andy Swenson, North Dakota State University farm management specialist and one of the event organizers. "He will provide a step-by-step process for building an effective farm management system and highlight the hidden landmines that derail farm operations."

Art Barnaby, Kansas State University, will explain what's new in crop insurance and strategies for risk management. Barnaby has worked on crop insurance issues with the private crop insurance industry, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency and farm commodity groups. His research was the basis for the first revenue crop insurance contract called Crop Revenue Coverage.

Gabe Brown, Bismarck, and Jeremy Wilson, Jamestown, are producers who will share their production practices that fully utilize soil moisture and build soil health. These practices may be useful for producers who have been struggling with wet soils and prevented planting situations.

Mike Kvistad, Jamestown, Ind., will discuss current global economic considerations, grain and oilseed markets, and structural considerations evolving in areas of producer grain marketing. Kvistad was manager of Country Hedging, a subsidiary of CHS Inc., and president of Benson-Quinn Commodities Inc. He also was grain marketing services director for ADM Grain Group in Decatur, Ill. He continues to be a consultant for ADM and other companies.

The meeting is organized for the public and all are welcome. Registration begins at 8 a.m., followed by the start of the meeting at 9 a.m. The fee for attending is $40, which is payable at the door. The fee includes a noon meal and breaks. For more information, call (701) 231-7393.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Time for Agricultural Producers to File Tax Returns

"As tax return preparation gets under way, agricultural producers need to take a close look at some tax preparation items," says Ron Haugen, North Dakota State University Extension Service farm economist.

Items to note for 2010 income tax preparation:

* Producers have until March 2011 to file their returns without penalty. If they made an estimated tax payment by Jan. 18, they have until April 18 to file.

* For 2010 only, a deduction for health insurance can be made against self- employment income. Previously, you could take a deduction for family health
insurance to adjust total income but not self-employment income.

* The 179 expense election is $500,000. Generally, the 179 expense election allows producers to deduct up to $500,000 of machinery or equipment purchases for the year of the purchase. There is a dollar-for-dollar phase-out for purchases of more than $2 million. It is scheduled to remain at $500,000 for 2011.

* The additional first-year bonus depreciation provision is in effect. It is equal to 50 percent of adjusted basis after 179 expensing. It only applies to new property purchased in 2010 and has a recovery period of 20 years or less. For new qualifying property purchased after Sept. 8, 2010, a 100 percent bonus depreciation is available.

* The standard deduction is $11,400 for those who are married and filing jointly. The deduction is $5,700 for singles.

* The personal exemption amount is $3,650.

* Qualified dividend income is taxed at a 0 percent rate for individuals in the 10 or 15 percent tax brackets and at 15 percent for those in higher tax brackets.

* Long-term capital gains are taxed at a 0 percent rate for individuals in the 10 or 15 percent tax brackets and at 15 percent for those in higher tax brackets.

* The child tax credit is $1,000 for each qualifying child.

* The annual IRA contribution is $5,000 for 2010 or $6,000 for individuals 50 or older.

* The annual gift tax exclusion is $13,000.

* The 2010 Social Security wage base is $106,800.

* The business mileage rate for 2010 is 50 cents per mile.

* There is a new credit for those producers who pay health insurance for their employees. For those who qualify, the credit may be up to 35 percent of employer health insurance premiums paid. This is done on Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums.

* Crop insurance proceeds, if received in 2010, may be deferred to 2011 if you qualify. You must use cash accounting and show that, under normal business practices, the sale of damaged crops would occur in a future tax year.

* A livestock deferral can be made by those who had a forced sale of livestock because of a weather-related disaster. Two methods can be used. In the first method, income can be deferred to the next year for all types of livestock sold prematurely. In the second method, income from livestock held for draft, breeding or dairy purposes is not taxed if like-kind animals are repurchased within four years (or more depending on weather conditions or disaster declarations) from the end of the tax year in which the animals were sold. Only the gain on the sale of those animals beyond what normally was sold would qualify for postponement.

* Remember that qualifying farmers can elect to compute their current tax liability by averaging, during a three-year period, all or part of the current
year elected farm income. This is done on Schedule J. North Dakota farmers who elect to use income averaging (Schedule J) for federal purposes also may use Form ND-1FA, income averaging for North Dakota income tax calculations.

Information on agricultural tax topics can be found in the "Farmers Tax Guide," publication 225. It is available at any IRS office or can be ordered by calling (800) 829-3676. Any questions about these topics should be addressed to your tax professional or the IRS at (800) 829-1040 or Call the North Dakota Tax Department at (877) 328-7088 or go to for answers to North Dakota income tax questions.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

'Eat Smart. Play Hard.' Poster Contest Set

North Dakota youth have a chance to help others learn about the importance of making healthful food choices and getting regular exercise.

The youth can test their creativity at the same time.

The North Dakota State University Extension Service - Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences and the Center for 4-H Youth Development have teamed up to hold this year's "Eat Smart. Play Hard. Together." poster contest. The North Dakota Dietetic Association also is sponsoring the contest.

"'Eat Smart. Play Hard. Together.' is a credible, interactive, age-appropriate program that promotes well-balanced nutrition, and fun and creative activities," says Kelly Fisher, president of the North Dakota Dietetic Association. "The registered dietitians of North Dakota are proud to help sponsor this program."

The "On the Move to Better Heart Health" contest is open to youth 8 to 19 years old as of Sept. 1, 2010. Entries must be postmarked by March 15, 2011.

Posters will be judged in two divisions: preteen (ages 8 to 12) and teen (ages 13 to 19).

The theme of the posters must relate directly to eating heart-healthy foods and/or playing hard to build and keep a healthy heart. Judges will consider how well the posters present information, their general appearance and their importance to educating others about healthy lifestyles.

Here are some contest rules:

* Posters cannot be larger than 22 by 28 inches.

* Posters can be made with construction paper, poster board or tagboard.

* Three-dimensional posters won't be allowed.

* Copyrighted characters, such as Snoopy, Charlie Brown or cartoon characters, can't be used.

* The competition is for individuals, not teams.

* The submission form must be attached to the back of the poster.

Mail entries to Center for 4-H Youth Development, Attn: Eat Smart. Play Hard. Poster Contest Entry - FLC 219, NDSU Dept. 7280, P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050.

The winners in both divisions will receive a $50 gift card for first place, a $35 gift card for second place and a $15 gift card for third place.

"Eat Smart. Play Hard." is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service. Its objective is making America's children healthier. It includes practical suggestions to motive children and their caregivers to eat a healthful diet and be active.

For background information to help create a poster, visit these Web sites:, and Contest rules and a submission form are available at Scroll down to Eat Smart. Play Hard.

Teen safety video

ST. PAUL — Minnesota teenagers are invited to shine lights and aim cameras on the issue of distraction behind the wheel in a TV public service announcement contest. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety and AAA Minnesota/Iowa are coordinating the 2011 Don’t Drive Distracted, Teens! TV Commercial Challenge.

Minnesota teens in grades 9–12 are eligible to create and produce a 30-second TV spot to communicate the dangers associated with distracted driving — as well as solutions to avoiding distractions behind the wheel. Spots are due to DPS by April 18, 2011. Find rules and entry forms at, and click ―’Teen Drivers’ on the left side of the page.

The contest is one opportunity for teens to specifically address the distracted driving problem to their friends and classmates.

The top spots will be selected by DPS and AAA Minnesota/Iowa for a public online vote in May 2011. AAA Minnesota/Iowa will award first-, second- and third-place finishers with $1,000, $600 and $400, respectively.

The winning spot will also make its television broadcast premiere on the MTV Video Music Awards this fall.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens — a group overrepresented each year due to driver inexperience, risk-taking behavior, distractions, nighttime driving, speeding and seat belt non-use. During 2007–2009, 107 teens (ages 16–19), were killed and another 565 were seriously injured in crashes.

Driver distraction is a leading factor in crashes in Minnesota, accounting for at least 21 percent of all crashes annually, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 injuries. DPS reports these numbers are vastly underreported due to officers’ challenges to determine ―distraction‖ as a contributing crash factor.

DPS offers these tips to minimize distractions:
* Cell phones — turn off cell phones, or place them out of reach to avoid the urge to dial or answer. If a passenger is present, ask them to handle calls/texts.

* Music and other controls — pre-program favorite radio stations for easy access and arrange music (mp3 player/CDs/tapes) in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and heat/AC before traveling, or ask a passenger to assist.

* Navigation — designate a passenger to serve as a co-pilot to help with directions. If driving alone, map out destinations in advance, and pull over to study a map.

* Eating and drinking — if you cannot avoid food/beverage, at least avoid messy foods, and be sure food and drinks are secured.

* Children — teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle; do not underestimate how distracting it can be to tend to children while driving.

* If you’re a passenger, speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior and volunteer to handle music/other controls and answer calls/texts.

* If making or receiving a call to or from someone driving, ask them to call back when they are not behind the wheel.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Free Paint Available for Community Restoration Projects

BEMIDJI, MN—Jan. 18, 2011— A fresh coat of paint can make a remarkable difference in the appearance of community structures, neighborhood facilities and parks. While adding to a sense of civic pride, this agreeable task is again being made very affordable. For the 14th consecutive year, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation (NMF) announces the availability of free paint for community fix-up and restoration projects.
In partnership with the Valspar Corporation and the Minnesota Beautiful Picture-It-Painted Program, help will be given to towns and organizations to obtain the paint and other coating materials required for selected projects.

“Over the years, visual improvements all around the region have resulted from The Picture-It-Painted Program. Literally thousands of gallons of paint have been given for a wide range of projects,” said Nancy Vyskocil, NMF president. “We’re pleased to be working with Valspar once again to help bring the Minnesota Beautiful project to our communities.”

Free paint will be made available by NMF and Valspar in support of projects that best meet certain eligibility criteria. Selection will be based on the visual impact of the proposed projects, potential advantages to the public, volunteer participation and support, current and/or intended use of the structure to be refurbished, and benefits to those in need.

Qualifying projects might include, but are not limited to, those involving historic structures, senior citizen and community centers, facilities for the disabled, publicly owned buildings, and murals or other visual-impact designs. Projects that would not qualify include those involving denominational churches, city maintenance, private properties, or school projects (except for murals).

Picture-It-Painted applications are due by March 7th, with awards announced on March 28th. Applications are available for downloading at, or by calling NMF at 218-759-2057 or 800-659-7859.

"Many towns and organizations will compete for this chance to renew or preserve a community asset,” said Vyskocil. “We encourage all applications and appreciate the spirit shown for the projects.”

The Northwest Minnesota Foundation invests resources, creates opportunities and promotes philanthropy to make the region a better place to live and work.

Round One IDEA Winners Announced

Bemidji, MN – January 18, 2011-- Seventeen ideas with the potential to be profitable business ventures were recently advanced to round two of the IDEA Competition. Round one of the competition closed December 31 and judges reviewed all submissions in early January.

The 17 winners were chosen from a wide geographic area. "We received applications from all over the region – Argyle, Bagley, Bemidji, Crookston, Fosston, Lake Bronson, McIntosh, Nevis, Park Rapids, Thief River Falls, and Warroad," said Michelle Landsverk, project coordinator. "We were extremely pleased with the quality of all the applications that we saw this year. Northwest Minnesota is truly a region of innovators."

The round one winners will now advance to the second round, for which they will have to submit a more detailed plan, due by February 28, 2011. From there, a panel of judges will select the finalists who will compete in the last round. The final judging takes place May 10. Up to five winners will each receive $10,000 to advance their innovative idea.

The main goal of the IDEA competition is to assist the most promising local entrepreneurs in the commercialization of innovative products, processes and deliveries by connecting them to the best resources available, along with access to the capital it takes to launch a successful venture.

The IDEA Competition is a project of Ingenuity Frontier, a collaboration of partners joined by a common purpose — to grow the economy of Northwest Minnesota by outfitting the next generation of homegrown innovators for success in the global marketplace. IDEA sponsors are 360┬║ Center for Manufacturing and Applied Engineering Center of Excellence, Bremer Banks of Crookston and Warren, Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, University of Minnesota, Crookston, and the Northwest Regional Small Business Development Center. IDEA was made possible through a generous grant from the Blandin Foundation.

Innovators who missed this year’s entry deadline are encouraged to continue refining their business ideas and enter the competition next year in September. For more information on the competition, visit the IDEA website:

Program to protect state's drinking water sources will hold first Advisory Forum meeting Jan. 20

Minnesotans concerned about protecting the state's water resources from contaminants will have an opportunity to hear about the work of the state's Drinking Water Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) program this week. The first meeting of the CEC Advisory Forum will be held Thursday, Jan. 20, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Minnesota Department of Health's Snelling Office Park facility. The meeting is open to the public and the proceedings will be posted on the Advisory Forum Web page at

Forum participants are likely to include representatives from local, state, and federal government agencies, academic programs, nonprofit groups, industry groups and drinking water and wastewater professional organizations. If you would like to attend and/or become a member of the Advisory Forum, please contact Michele Ross at or 651-201-4927.

The Advisory Forum is expected to meet one or two times per year for the purposes of:
• Obtaining nominations for contaminants of concern.
• Reviewing work completed by task groups.
• Discussing monitoring and research on contaminants of emerging concern being conducted in Minnesota.

The CEC program was made possible by a constitutional amendment passed by Minnesota voters in 2008. The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment dedicates certain portions of state sales and use taxes to outdoor heritage, clean water, parks and trails and arts and cultural heritage. Under the amendment, clean water funds must be used to protect, enhance and restore water quality in lakes, rivers and streams and to protect groundwater from degradation and to protect drinking water sources.

Under CEC, MDH is able to take a more proactive approach to the protection of drinking water. The CEC program identifies contaminants in the environment for which current health-based standards do not exist or need to be updated to reflect new toxicity information. Through the CEC program, MDH investigates the potential for human exposure to these contaminants, and develops guidance values. Contaminants evaluated by CEC staff may include industrial chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, and other contaminants that have been released or detected in Minnesota waters (surface water and groundwater) or that have the potential to migrate to or be detected in Minnesota waters.
Since February 2009, MDH has been working with a number of state agencies and partners in laying the groundwork for the CEC program. A task group was formed and met four times in 2010 to review the proposed chemical screening process and discuss the development of the chemical prioritization process. Additionally, another task group was formed and met one time in 2010 to develop and expand on the education, outreach, and engagement plan for the program. These task groups will continue to meet in 2011. However, Thursday's meeting will be the first for the broader Advisory Forum. Additional task groups may be formed from the members of the Advisory Forum.

More information on the Advisory Forum or the CEC program can be found on the MDH website at

Tips from Otter Tail Power Company for buying and using portable electric space heaters

It’s cold outside so many people are using supplemental heaters to add comfort to certain areas in their homes rather than raise overall indoor temperatures. Otter Tail Power Company offers these tips for buying and using portable electric space heaters to help ensure efficiency and safety.
• Don't fall for claims of added efficiency on overpriced electric space heaters. All electric space heaters operate at 100 percent efficiency. Because they convert all of the electricity they use to heat, they all are equally efficient. So, don’t fall victim to a scam. Electric room heaters in wood cabinets that sell for several hundred dollars are not more energy efficient. All portable heaters use electricity without the advantage of discounted off-peak prices and are, in fact, the most expensive way to heat with electricity. Portable heaters of equal wattage will cost the same to operate whether the unit’s purchase price is $20 or $400.
• The only feature of an electric heater that affects the amount of heat the unit can generate is wattage. A 1,000-watt heater uses 1 kilowatt-hour per hour of operation no matter what type of heater it is. (Heat pumps are the only option that can claim greater efficiency because these units capture free heat from the environment.) Remember, to best manage your costs, operate the lowest total wattage possible to keep you comfortable. Low-wattage radiant heaters, some rated at just a few hundred watts, also are available for supplemental heat in small spaces such as office workstations. While still hot to the touch, these units do not have fans so they heat directly in front of them only.
• Select a portable electric heater that has a thermostat so it doesn't run all the time. A unit with a thermostat can help maintain a constant temperature and not overheat an area. If using a heater without a thermostat, consider operating it on a timer to avoid wasting energy. A thermostat also may help avoid safety issues should the heater be left on when no one is home or attending it.
• Select the proper wattage for a portable electric space heater so it doesn’t overload your electrical wiring and create a fire safety issue. Portable electric heaters come in a variety of sizes. The most common are 1,000-watt and 1,500-watt units, and some have low, medium, and high settings. Don’t be tempted to buy a higher-wattage unit because of the additional heat it can deliver unless you know you have adequate capacity in your home wiring. The smaller the wattage the less likely it will overload your wiring. One sign of an overloaded circuit is blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers. Here are some other indicators
o Make sure that the outlet into which you plug your portable electric space heater is tight fitting.
o Feel the outlet surface after the unit has operated for a while. If the outlet, or the wall surrounding it, becomes warm, the wiring is overloaded. Discontinue using that outlet for your heater or consider a lower-wattage heater.
o Do not use a circuit that has many other items plugged into it.
• The type of heater you choose can help you feel more comfortable. For example, an electric heater that distributes warmth from a greater surface area, such as a portable baseboard or a radiator-shaped heater, can increase comfort by distributing heat more evenly. A small fan-forced heater of the same wattage, meanwhile, will produce the same amount of heat but at a higher intensity and be more localized. But either will heat your room.
• Look for a portable electric heater that automatically shuts off if tipped over and that has protective casing over the heating element to avoid the potential for burns.
• Never use a portable electric space heater or any electric appliance near wet areas such as bathtubs and sinks.
• Avoid using an extension cord but, if one is needed, be sure it has at least 12-gauge wire.
• Keep portable electric space heaters away from flammable materials such as curtains, bedding, newspapers, etc.
• Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure a portable electric space heater is UL labeled.
If you have questions about energy conservation, energy prices, or about how an electric space heater might affect your electric service bill, call Otter Tail Power Company’s Idea Center at 800-493-3299.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Minnesota to Get an Additional $56.3 Million for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

ST. PAUL, MN) The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security (OES) today announced Minnesota will receive an additional $56.3 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP). When added to the $86.4 million in federal funds already received by the state, this allocation will bring the total for the current heating season to approximately $142.7 million.

OES reports it has already received more than 146,000 applications from households requesting assistance. OES allocates these funds to 36 local service providers who work with households to distribute the funds.
EAP applications have increased 6 percent this year compared to the same time last year, and have increased 16 percent compared to the same time two years ago. The program helps low-income customers pay their heating bills through grant money paid directly to the utility company on behalf of the customer.

Last year, Minnesota served 164,783 households with $160 million in federal funds. This year, the average grant per household is about $500. Customers with 50 percent or less of the state median income ($43,500 for a family of four) may qualify. Households with seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children are especially encouraged to apply.

Qualifying families must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area. Funding is limited and is administered on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Justin Knebel Memorial Ice Fishing Tournament Saturday, Feb. 5th at Zippel Bay Resort

CROOKSTON, Minn. – A fishing tournament in memory of Justin Knebel, who played basketball for the University of Minnesota, Crookston Golden Eagles, will be held on Lake of the Woods at Zippel Bay Resort, Williams, Minn. The tournament, scheduled for Saturday, February 5, 2011, honors the memory of Knebel who loved the Warroad area and outdoor sports in Minnesota.

Registration is at 10 a.m. on the ice at the tournament site with fishing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to the first person to catch a fish, the smallest fish caught, along with prizes for the largest walleye, northern, sauger, and perch caught during the tournament.

Tickets are available for $25 by contacting Alysa Tulibaski at 218-281-8570 or Bill Tyrrell at 218-281-8436. Tickets are also available at Zippel Bay Resort, 6080 39th St. NW, Williams, Minn., 800-222-2537. All proceeds from the tournament support the Justin Knebel Memorial Scholarship Fund benefiting students at the U of M, Crookston.

Knebel grew up in Warroad, Minn., graduating from Warroad High School in 2001. A talented athlete, he lettered in basketball, cross country, and track. After graduation, he attended the University of Minnesota, Crookston where he played basketball as a point guard for the Golden Eagles. Head Basketball Coach Jeff Oseth describes him as the ultimate team player working hard on the court and in the classroom.

In the fall of 2002, Knebel became ill and was unable to participate with the team in conditioning but eventually was cleared to resume activity by his doctor. The evening before the first official practice was to begin, Knebel passed away unexpectedly from complications but left behind a legacy of dedication, determination, and a drive to excel.

For more information on the tournament, visit

Best Practices for Field Days Workshop Scheduled for Feb. 10th at UMC

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Making the most of a field day for students is the topic of a workshop slated for Thursday, February 10, 2011, at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. The Best Practices for Field Days workshop, which focuses on how to maximize the field day experience, will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center on the Crookston campus. The $15 registration fee includes lunch.

Field days are community events that bring together professionals, volunteers and teachers with school children for a day of learning about their environment. In educational field days, students rotate through multiple presentations on environmental topics.

The Best Practices for Field Days workshop is designed to help organizers and presenters improve the field experience for students by helping them learn and retain important concepts, plan a comfortable and memorable setting, ensure the day runs safely and smoothly, create more useful evaluations, market an event and to employ designs that help connect youth with nature.

All workshop attendees will receive the Best Practices for Field Days: A Program Planning Guidebook for Organizers, Presenters, Teachers, and Volunteers and a companion CD of tools and templates. For more information, visit or contact Jolene Beiswenger at 218-281-8027.

The workshop is sponsored by University of Minnesota Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership and its partners University of Minnesota, Crookston, University of Minnesota Extension, Northwest Regional Development Commission, International Water Institute River Watch, Polk and Mahnomen Public Health Programs, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 29 bachelor’s degree programs, 18 minors, and more than 40 concentrations, including several online degrees, in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology. With an enrollment of about 1,400 undergraduates from more than 25 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree. “Small Campus. Big Degree.” To learn more, visit

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January-March 2011 Gardening Classes at the Arboretum

Chanhassen, MN (Jan.11, 2011) - The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a living, green classroom for learning about plants and gardening. Here's a look at upcoming classes. To register, call 952-443-1422 or visit

Arboretum Gardening School
Starting Plants Indoors: Building and Using Grow Lights. Saturday, Jan. 22, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
$30 member/$40 non-member. Learning Center. Get a jump start on growing seedlings without a greenhouse. Learn how to build your own grow light and how to use it to maximize your growing season.

Sexual Reproduction: Working with Seeds. Saturday, Jan. 29, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $30 member/$40 non-member, Learning Center. Learn the biology of seeds, germination, scarification, stratification and more.

Asexual Reproduction: Cuttings, Layering, and Specialized Structures. Saturday, Feb. 5, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $30 member/$40 non-member, Snyder Building. Learn from a horticulturalist how to propagate plants through various methods.

Asexual Reproduction: Grafting. Saturday, Feb.12, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $30 member/$40 non-member, Snyder Building. Gain the understanding of the different methods of grafting and why some grafts work and some don't. Much of the class will be spent on practicing and making a number of grafts with various plant materials.

Planning a Garden From the Ground Up: Understanding Soils. Saturday, Feb. 26, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $30 member/$40 non-member, Snyder Building. Learn the essentials from a soils scientist. Examine how to enhance soil with water, compost and mulch. Includes an opportunity to have your soil analyzed.

Basic Garden and Landscape Design. Saturday, March 5, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $30 member/$40 non-member, Snyder Building. Learn the principles and theories of landscape design, including the elements of style, balance, texture and scale.

Perennials through the Seasons. Saturday, March 12, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $30 member/$40 non-member, Snyder Building. The perennial garden is like an orchestra where different sections play at different times. Knowing when perennials bloom can help you orchestrate the color display in your garden. Learn about perennials from A to Z and be able to apply that knowledge immediately to your own setting.

Gardening in the Shade. Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $30 member/$40 non-member, Learning Center. Selecting plants for shady locations is far more challenging than for sunny locations. Go beyond begonias and impatiens to learn about unusual shade plants. Discover the role of texture, color and shape.

Horticulture Classes
Grow Your Own Food. Saturday, Feb. 19, 10 a.m.-noon. $30 member/$40 non-member, Snyder Auditorium.
Whether you have a postage-stamp sized urban lot or spacious farmyard, you can grow an abundance of your own food. Learn the best choices for your vegetable garden from Tim Kenny, Arboretum director of education.

Orchid Culture 101. Saturday, March 5, 9:30 a.m.-noon. $35 member/$45 non-member, Oswald Visitor Center. Growing orchids in a Minnesota home environment is easier than in a Florida backyard! Jerry Fischer of Orchids Limited will share tips and techniques for successful orchid cultivation. Take home a seedling-sized orchid plant.

Advanced Crop Advisers Workshop Set for Feb. 10-11 in Fargo

An Advanced Crop Advisers Workshop is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Feb. 10- 11, at the Holiday Inn in Fargo. The workshop is designed to provide in- depth discussion of selected topics for agricultural professionals who advise farmers with crop production recommendations.

The event is organized and conducted by the North Dakota State University
Extension Service and University of Minnesota Extension.

On Feb. 10, educational sessions will include:

* Plant nutrition diagnosis in the field

* Canadian research and recommendations that may help producers break the
soybean yield plateau

* The latest information on soybean and corn nematodes

* Crop insurance implications for prevented-plant acres

* Working with the media to deliver agriculture's message

On Feb. 11, educational sessions will include:

* Glyphosate tank mixtures with micronutrients and a review of cleaning spray tanks

* Specialty nitrogen products and application strategies

* Tile drainage design and management

Preregistration is requested. The workshop fee is $140 if received by Feb. 4 or $75 if attending one day only. Late registration fees are $175 or $100 for one day. In addition to information delivery, the fee includes the costs for three meals and breaks, a social and reference materials, such as "Weeds of the Midwestern U.S. and Central Canada." Certified crop advisers attending the workshop will have the opportunity to receive 8.5 continuing education units.

Workshop details and paper or electronic preregistration information is
available at

For further information, contact Greg Endres at the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center at (701) 652-2951 or Phillip Glogoza at the University Minnesota Extension area office in Moorhead at (218) 236-2008.

NDSU Sets Agricultural Outlook Conferences

Given the volatility of commodity markets and input costs, the North Dakota State University Extension Service has scheduled nine agricultural outlook conferences throughout the state. Several members of the NDSU Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics will be presenting.

At all sites, Frayne Olson, crops marketing specialist, will provide his outlook on crop markets and how to manage price risks. At most sites, Tim Petry, livestock economist, will provide an outlook on livestock markets. Dwight Aakre and Andy Swenson, farm management specialists, will discuss input costs and projected crop profitability for 2011. Also, Swenson will discuss farm financial trends and outlook.

At some sites, Aakre and Swenson will provide a farm program update on the
Average Crop Revenue Election and Supplemental Revenue Assistance programs, wheat loan rates and an update on crop insurance for 2011. At certain sites, Aakre will discuss the benefits and costs of sharing and transferring machinery for farm transitions.

The conferences will be held at the following sites:

* Bismarck - Bismarck State College, Jan. 24, 1 p.m.

* Williston -- Research Extension Center, Jan. 26, 9 a.m.

* New Town - Civic Center, Jan. 26, 2 p.m.

* Hettinger - Research Extension Center, Jan. 27, 10:45 a.m.

* Finley - Legion Hall, Feb. 22, 9:30 a.m.

* Jamestown - Knights of Columbus, Feb. 22, 2 p.m.

* Linton - Courthouse auditorium, Feb. 23, 10 a.m.

* Maddock - Event Center, Feb. 24, 9 a.m.

* Carrington - Research Extension Center, Feb. 24, 2 p.m.

Lunch will be provided at some sites. The list of topics varies among sites, but most conferences will last three hours. Contact your local county Extension office for more information about the conference schedule.

RSVP of the Red River Valley announces Grant

CROOKSTON, Minn. – RSVP of the Red River Valley, sponsored by the University of Minnesota, Crookston, has received funding for 2011 from Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging to start two pilot projects in Crookston, East Grand Forks, Red Lake Falls, and Thief River Falls. The $7500 grant will help establish both the "RSVP Handyman Program" and "RSVP Groceries to Go Program" to help seniors remain safely and independently in their homes for as long as practicable.

Through the RSVP Handyman Program, trained volunteers will provide minor home repairs and safety modifications as well as providing safety assessments and educational material on falls and fire prevention in the home. The volunteers provide their labor free of charge, and the client pays for needed materials. The RSVP Groceries to Go Program will provide trained volunteers to shop for and deliver groceries for clients who are no longer able to shop on their own.

Deanna Patenaude, Director of RSVP "We are excited to bring these two programs to our area and hope that their success will garner interest in other communities in the seven county region."

With RSVP, you choose the amount of time you want to give. And you choose whether you want to draw on your skills or develop new ones. When you volunteer, you're not just helping others-you're helping yourself. Volunteering leads to new discoveries and new friends. Plus, studies show that volunteering helps you live longer and promote a positive outlook on life.

In addition, with RSVP you'll receive pre-service orientation, training from the organization where you serve, and supplemental insurance while on duty. If you are interested in making a difference in your community by volunteering, contact RSVP at 281-8288 or e-mail

This project is made possible in part, under the Federal Older American's Act through a grant with the Land of the Dancing Sky AAA under an Area Plan approved by the Minnesota Board on Aging. RSVP engages adults 55 and older in volunteer service to meet community needs, and to provide a high quality experience that will enrich the lives of volunteers.

RSVP connects volunteers age 55 and over with service opportunities in their communities that match their skills and availability. From building houses to immunizing children, from enhancing the capacity of non-profit organizations to improving and protecting the environment, RSVP volunteers put their unique talents to work to make a difference. To learn more about RSVP, visit

Monday, January 10, 2011

36th annual Ag Arama January 28-29, 2011, at the U of M, Crookston

CROOKSTON, Minn. – The last weekend in January celebrates the theme "Country Strong" during the 36th annual Ag Arama at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. Scheduled for Friday and Saturday, January 28-29, 2011, Ag Arama is hosted by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department and includes fun for the entire family. This year’s event is dedicated to 1979 graduate Cindy Bigger who served as a judge for Ag Arama for many years.

Most of the activities take place on Saturday, Jan. 29, in the University Teaching and Outreach Center (UTOC) located on the north edge of the campus. The weekend begins with contests for students in agronomy, horticulture and natural resources beginning on Friday, January 28 at noon. Friday evening from 6-8 p.m., the Animal Science Association will host a chili feed for $5 per person in UTOC.

Contests in agronomy, animal science, horticulture, and natural resources highlight Ag Arama weekend. They serve as an opportunity for students to showcase their knowledge and skills and have a chance to interact with alumni and faculty members. Ag Arama is planned and operated by a committee of students advised by Terrill Bradford, animal science instructor in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department.

On Saturday morning from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., the animal showmanship contests are held and the public is welcome to watch the competition as it unfolds in both novice and experienced categories. Students compete in western and English horse showmanship, lamb lead, and dairy, beef, sheep, and swine showing. The novices are paired with experienced students prior to the contests to prepare for the competition.

From 9 a.m. to noon, there is an ag industries show and a picnic style lunch is served at 12:30 p.m. Coronation of the Ag Arama royalty begins at 1 p.m. with the presentation of awards to follow. Several games and competitions, including men's and women's crosscut saw contests and log splitting, will be held beginning at 2:15 p.m.

Alumni from the U of M, Crookston are invited to a social at the Irishman's Shanty in Crookston from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Capping off the weekend is a dance with the band Silverado to be held at the Crookston Eagles Club.

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers more than 25 applied-science undergraduate degree programs and 50 concentrations, including several online degrees, in agriculture; arts, humanities and social sciences; business; math, science and technology; and natural resources. To learn more, visit

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 29 bachelor’s degree programs, 18 minors, and more than 40 concentrations, including several online degrees, in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology. With an enrollment of about 1,400 undergraduates from more than 25 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree. “Small Campus. Big Degree.” To learn more, visit

Friday, January 7, 2011

Over $100,000 in Legacy Amendment Arts Grants Available

Schools and arts organizations are all encouraged to apply for arts grants. The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council in Warren is accepting applications for a variety of grants in literary, performing, and visual arts. The Arts Council serves the Minnesota counties of Kittson, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau. Therefore organizations, schools, cities or individuals applying must be from those counties. Three grant programs have February 1, 2011 postmark deadlines including our Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund grant program that will award over $100,000 in Legacy Amendment funds!

The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund grant category is mainly geared towards funding non-profit arts organizations but other agencies and schools and perhaps even artists within our region can also apply. New outcome measurement tools for evaluation are part of this application process. Each applicant may apply for a maximum of $10,000.00 with a 10% cash match requirement. One-on-one assistance is available with the new application form. Examples of projects already funded include a music recording studio at the Fosston Community Arts Center, a mosaic artist residency in Warren during the summer to document the historical flooding in 1996-1997, and a variety of artists for a Cinco de Mayo Hispanic celebration in Crookston. Public art projects and proposals that bring about lifelong learning and access to the arts are encouraged. More examples of highlighted projects are on our web site at in the grants awarded section. The next deadline is February 1, 2011. If funds remain, additional deadlines will occur on the 1st of each month in this category.

In the Artist in the Schools program, public school districts may apply for up to $3,000.00 for the sponsorship of projects such as conducting an artist-in-residence program, hosting a visiting artist, conducting workshops for students and/or teachers. School Districts must provide 10% cash match. The postmark deadline is February 1, 2011.

In the Arts Project Grants program, organizations may apply for a maximum of $3,000.00 with a 10% cash match requirement. Grants are available for the creation, performance, or exhibition of arts. Grants also provide funds to host guest artists or touring groups. The postmark deadline is February 1, 2011.

Mara Wittman will be holding a grant informational workshop at 1:00 pm in Red Lake Falls on Saturday, January 15, 2011. Please RSVP if you will be attending to (218) 745-9111 or There will also be a “High Tea” event in Crookston at 3:00 on February 10, 2011 where grant information will be provided and questions answered on the Arts portion of the Legacy Amendment by Sheila Smith, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. More information and locations related to these events will be posted to our web site.

Application materials for all the grant programs are available from Mara Wittman, Arts Council Director, NWRDC, 115 South Main, Warren, MN 56762, (218) 745-9111 or through the agency website at in the grants section. This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008 and by funds from The McKnight Foundation

Crop Insurance Conference Set for Jan. 17 in Fargo

The latest information on crop insurance will be provided at the North Dakota State University Extension Service's 18th annual crop insurance conference in Fargo on Jan. 17.

Making Crop Insurance Work Better for Managing Price and Yield Risk will be held at the Ramada Plaza Suites and Conference Center. It starts at 8 a.m. and runs to 4:40 p.m.

"The goal of the conference is to help participants integrate crop insurance tools with other risk management tools, understand major issues in the crop insurance industry and highlight new risk management products," says Andy Swenson, NDSU Extension farm management specialist.

The conference is for crop insurance agents and underwriters, professional farm managers, producers, legislators, agricultural and agribusiness lenders,
industry regulators, commodity group representatives, adult vocational agriculture instructors and public officials.

Conference topics and their presenters include:

* Economic outlook - Michael Swanson, economist at Wells Fargo Bank

* Ethics in business - Dennis Cooley, Northern Plains Ethics Institute

* New crop insurance products for 2011, prevent plant qualifications, wheat quality adjustment factors and compensation issues coming out of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement - regional and national administrators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency

* Crop insurance industry perspective - Mike Connealy, CEO of ProAg

* Crop insurance as a tool to enhance marketing - Bret Oelke, University of Minnesota Extension

* Look ahead to crop insurance under the 2012 farm bill - David Graves, American Association of Crop Insurers

The conference has been approved for continuing education credit for crop insurance agents in the Dakotas and Minnesota.

The cost of the conference is $110, which includes lunch, breaks and conference materials. To register, go to For more information, call (701) 231-8642.

Agricultural Drainage Design Workshop Set for Wahpeton on Feb. 23-24

A Drainage Design Workshop will be held in the Tech Center, Room 87, on the campus of the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton on Feb. 23-24. The workshop is a collaborative effort by the University of Minnesota Extension, North Dakota State University Extension Service and South Dakota State Extension Service.

"The spring of 2009 and 2010 will be remembered for many years for the record flooding that took place in many parts of North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota," says Hans Kandel, NDSU Extension Service agronomist. "The persistent flooding, along with spring rains, resulted in many unplanted acres in this region. As a result, many farmers have become interested in controlling high water tables or excess water by using subsurface drainage."

The workshop is intended for farmers, landowners, consultants, drainage contractors, government agency staff, water resource managers or anyone
interested in a more complete understanding of the design principles and practices of tile drainage systems. The two-day event will start at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 23, and end at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. The workshop will focus on the planning and designing of tile drainage systems for farm fields and be taught in a hands-on manner. It also will feature a great deal of discussion time.

Planning topics include legal aspects of drainage, basics of drainable soils, agronomic considerations, what to think about if considering doing your own tiling, land evaluation tools and regional rainfall trends.

The design topics begin with basic design considerations and progress through small-team projects. There will be several hands-on problem-solving examples covering basic design and layout principles, water flow calculations, tile spacing, sizing and tile grades. Design factors for lift stations and conservation drainage practices also will be discussed.

The registration fee is $200, which includes lunch, course materials and refreshments. Class size will be limited to 50 participants, so preregistration is required. Participants must register online at by noon, Jan. 28. The fee after Jan. 28 is $225.

For more information, contact Scherer at (701) 231-7239 or Other contacts are Gary Sands, University of Minnesota Extension engineer, at (612) 625-4756 or, and Chris Hay, South Dakota State Extension engineer, at (605) 688-5610 or

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Roof Snow Removal Probably Not Necessary

News release from NDSU Extension:

This winter's heavy snowfall has people wondering whether they need to remove snow from the roof of their house or agricultural building.

"Most roofs are designed to handle the snow load of a typical winter," North Dakota State University Extension Service agricultural engineer Ken Hellevang says. "Just because one roof has gone down doesn't mean every roof in the area is in danger. The collapse may have been a case of poor workmanship or design, unusual amounts of snow or some other special circumstance."

Hellevang says most house roofs in eastern and northern North Dakota should hold 30 to 40 pounds of snow per square foot. In the southwestern part of the state, where snowfall typically is lighter, roofs are built to hold less - about 30 pounds per square foot.

"Agricultural buildings usually aren't designed to those same standards,"
Hellevang says. "That's because the risk of damage or injury from collapse is considered to be lower."

Agricultural buildings should carry 20 to 35 pounds of snow per square foot, depending on location. However, agricultural buildings normally are not required to be built to carry a specified snow load and may have been built for a lighter amount of snow.

Also, snow load standards may not have been in place when older homes and
buildings were erected, but if those buildings have withstood the test of time, they'll probably withstand a normal winter's snow load, Hellevang says.

Determining if the snow load on your roof is excessive can be difficult. "The weight of snow varies greatly," Hellevang says. "Light, fluffy snow may only weigh about 7 pounds per cubic foot. More average snow may weigh 15 pounds per cubic foot, and drifted, compacted snow may weigh 20 pounds or more. Ice buildup also adds weight rapidly."

If the roof has more than a couple of feet of compacted snow on it, the load may be excessive, he adds.

He urges people to monitor the roof for deep drifts caused by surrounding
buildings or trees. Roofs that have more than one level often accumulate deep snowdrifts, but those roofs should have been built to carry that added load.

Ultimately, however, the decision to shovel off a roof will be based on an
educated guess unless you can get a recommendation from an engineer or building official, Hellevang says.

He recommends that home and agricultural building owners check their insurance policy because roof failure due to snow is not covered by all policies.

Those who decide to shovel off their roof need to remember that snow and ice can make the job dangerous. Agricultural buildings with metal roofs can be especially treacherous, and power lines can be an added hazard.

Hellevang advises using a "roof rake," which allows a person to remove snow while standing on the ground. Ladders can slide easily on frozen ground, so they need to be anchored in some way.

Shoes also can slide easily on the ladder and the roof. Select shoes that
provide a good grip in cold weather. People who are not agile and comfortable working on the roof should hire someone to remove the snow.

"You also can damage your roof," Hellevang says. "Cold temperatures make
shingles brittle, so they break more easily. You're also more likely to remove many of the little pebbles from the surface of the shingles, shortening the life of your roof."

Some snow rakes have rollers that keep the rake just above the shingle. If using a shovel, take care to not impact the shingles, and shovel down the roof in the direction the shingles lie.

Disaster Assistance Available for Small Businesses

Sacramento, CA – Small, non-farm businesses in 51 North Dakota counties and neighboring counties in Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota are now eligible to apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA.) “These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the combined effects of excessive snow, frosts, freezes, rain, flooding, high winds, hail, lightning, tornadoes, periods of dry weather, drought, weather-related insects and diseases that occurred in the following primary North Dakota counties beginning January 1, 2010,” announced Alfred E. Judd, Director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center West.

Primary North Dakota counties: Adams, Benson, Bottineau, Burke, Cass, Cavalier, Dickey, Divide, Dunn, Eddy, Emmons, Grand Forks, Grant, La Moure, McHenry, Mountrail, Nelson, Pembina, Pierce, Ramsey, Ransom, Renville, Richland, Rolette, Sargent, Towner, Traill, Walsh, Ward and Williams;

Neighboring North Dakota counties: Barnes, Billings, Bowman, Burleigh, Foster, Griggs, Hettinger, Kidder, Logan, McIntosh, McKenzie, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Sheridan, Sioux, Slope, Stark, Steele, Stutsman and Wells;

Neighboring Minnesota counties: Clay, Kittson, Marshall, Norman, Polk, Traverse and Wilkin;

Neighboring Montana counties: Richland, Roosevelt and Sheridan;

Neighboring South Dakota counties: Brown, Campbell, Corson, Harding, Marshall, McPherson, Perkins and Roberts.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” Judd said.

Small, non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 4% for businesses and 3% for private, non-profit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years, and are available to small businesses and most private, non-profits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” Judd said.

By law, SBA makes EIDLs available when the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. Secretary Tom Vilsack declared this disaster at the request of Governor John Hoeven.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency (FSA) about the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration. However, in drought disasters nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance.

Information and application forms are available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659 2955, emailing, or visiting SBA’s Web site at Hearing impaired individuals may call (800) 877 8339. Applicants may also apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at
The deadline to apply for these loans is August 29, 2011.
For more information, visit SBA’s Web site at
SBA Field Operations Center - West, P.O. Box 419004, Sacramento, CA 95841

Mn/DOT seeks public input for Greater Minnesota Transit Investment Plan

BEMIDJI, Minn. –The Minnesota Department of Transportation invites the public to a hearing about future needs and priorities for transit investment in Greater Minnesota on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at various locations statewide.

The public hearing will take place from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m., via videoconference at 15 different Mn/DOT locations, including Bemidji, 3920 Hwy. 2 West, and Crookston, 1320 Sunflower Street. Mn/DOT representatives and transit officials will be on hand to answer questions about the plan.

People unable to attend the public hearing in person may join from their home computer using Adobe Connect, a free, web-based conferencing tool that allows participants to hear plan presentations and submit comments via phone or Internet in real time. Instructions for accessing the public hearing via Adobe Connect are available at

The Greater Minnesota Transit Investment Plan quantifies future transit need in Greater Minnesota, estimates the cost of providing additional transit service to meet future need and sets priorities for future transit investment. The plan’s goal is to reduce unmet transit needs by:
• Documenting the needs of current and potential transit customers.
• Calculating total and unmet transit needs at the county level.
• Building support for transit investment priorities.

A printed copy of the plan is available for review at the Mn/DOT Central Office in St. Paul, Minn., 395 John Ireland Blvd., or at the Bemidji headquarters, 3920 Highway 2 West. To request a copy in an alternative format, call 651-366-4718 or e-mail

To request an ASL interpreter or other reasonable accommodations at the public hearing, call 651-366-4718 or e-mail by Wednesday, Jan. 12.

Those interested in commenting on the plan can visit, or contact Fay Cleaveland, transportation planner, at 651-366-4194; Participants also can fax comments to 651-366-4192 or mail to:
Minnesota Department of Transportation
Fay Cleaveland, Office of Transit
Mail Stop 430
395 John Ireland Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155

Comments should be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m., Jan. 24.

For more information on the Greater Minnesota Transit Investment Plan, visit

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Plastic Musik to perform at UMC

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Enjoy the eclectic musical style of the percussion based ensemble Plastic Musik on Wednesday, January 19, 2011, at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. Plastic Musik will perform in Kiehle Auditorium at 7 p.m. Admission is free for U of M, Crookston students; $3 for non-UMC students; and $5 for adults.

Student Programming and Activities for Campus Entertainment, known as S.P.A.C.E., is bringing the group to campus as part of its weekly series “What's on Wednesday.” The unique musical style of these high energy performers is visually captivating and sure to entertain the audience in a completely new way.

Based out of Las Vegas, Nev., Plastic Musik is a unique performance group that utilizes traditional percussion techniques, along with all-plastic instruments to produce familiar melodies. The combination of a revolutionary product known as "Boomwhackers," ( an energetic stage show, and surprising musicality provides an entertaining experience for musicians and non-musicians alike. When viewing a performance by Plastic Musik, the audience can expect to hear familiar themes ranging from classical favorites, to Motown classics, Hip-Hop hits, 80's movie themes, and original pieces all accompanied by a visually stimulating stage show.

Director of Student Activities Lisa Samuelson is excited about hosting the group on the Crookston campus. “Plastic Musik was showcased at a regional conference in April 2010 that members of the programming board attended and the students immediately became entranced,” she says. “S.P.A.C.E. is so excited to be bringing this group to campus; it promises to be a great event.”

For more information about Plastic Musik, visit

Reusable Bags Recalled Throughout the U.S. and Canada Due to Excessive Levels of Lead

Washington, D.C. – The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, is pointing to a recent recall of reusable bags as another unintended consequence of "feel good" policy making. Recalls of reusable grocery bags by companies such as Sears Canada, CVS, Winn Dixie, Wegmans and lululemon athletica due to elevated lead levels demonstrate the negative outcome of policies meant to restrict consumer choice. When consumers are pushed to buy reusable bags they often purchase cheap, fabric-like polypropylene bags that contain excessive levels of lead and bacteria.

According to a new Opinion Research Corporation poll commissioned by CCF, 56% of Americans are not “at all aware” that their reusable grocery bags may contain lead and bacteria, which explains why—according to the same poll—68% of reusable bag owners have either never washed their bag or only washed it once in the last year.

Some reusable shopping bags sold or given away by stores throughout North America contain lead levels above what is allowable by many state laws. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has called on federal and state regulatory agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate a report showing that nearly half of all reusable bags tested exceed the limits set by many state laws on toxins in packaging. In addition to calling for a federal investigation, Senator Schumer stated, “When our families go to the grocery store looking for safe and healthy foods to feed their kids, the last thing they should have to worry about are toxic bags.”

“Demonizing, taxing, or banning plastic bags—as they have in some cities across the country—is a perfect example of knee-jerk, feel-good regulation that brings with it myriad unintended consequences,” said CCF Senior Research Analyst J. Justin Wilson. “Politicians often respond to activist-driven junk science by demonizing, banning or taxing products without giving any thought to what people will use instead. Now recent research demonstrates that some of these bags contain lead and can be a breeding ground for bacteria. In the end, the new alternative can end up being worse than its replacement. It’s no surprise we’re seeing retailers like Sears and Wegmans recalling their reusable bags because they contain lead.”

The Center for Consumer Freedom has been running ads in major newspapers and online. The text of the ad reads:

What your family needs to know about reusable bags imported from China

Did you know that many reusable bags imported from China frequently have excessive levels of lead? China is the number one supplier of reusable bags in the United States, sending almost 3 billion bags to date and an additional half a billion into our homes each year. Recent investigations by the Tampa Tribune and consumer protection groups uncovered high levels of lead and heavy metals in reusable bags sold by multiple national and regional retailers.

Senator Charles Schumer and other congressional leaders have called on government safety agencies to investigate why such elevated levels of lead are coming into contact with our food and leaching into the environment. Perhaps even more alarming, a University of Arizona study found fecal coliform bacteria and E. coli in some of the bags when not washed after reuse.

For more information visit To arrange an interview, call Allison Miller at 202-463-7112.

Minnesota homes need to be tested for radon

Every home in Minnesota should be tested every 2-5 years for radon gas, say state health officials. Testing a home is so important that, as a way to prevent exposure to radon, which can cause lung cancer, health officials are offering a limited number of low-cost test kits to Minnesota homeowners.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has sent about 3,500 radon test kits to 30 local public health agencies around the state that have expressed interest in distributing them to homeowners in their areas. During January, which is Radon Action Month, MDH and its partners take extra measures to increase radon awareness and testing. For details on how to obtain a kit, contact your local public health agency or MDH. A list of participating health agencies can be found on the MDH website at

MDH has recently developed a comprehensive brochure with information on radon risks, testing and mitigation. This brochure will accompany each test kit distributed by local public health agencies. Visit to download a printable version of the brochure.

MDH estimates that one in three existing Minnesota homes have radon levels that pose a large health risk over many years of exposure. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and more than 21,000 deaths are attributed to radon each year. Radon exposure, however, is a preventable health threat for many Minnesotans.

Radon is odorless, colorless and tasteless, so the only way for homeowners to know if their home has radon is to test. Testing is easy, inexpensive and only takes 3-5 days. The most difficult part is remembering to send the canister to the lab for analysis. Most test kits are priced under $20 and are available at city and county health departments, many hardware stores, or directly from radon testing laboratories.

Tests should be done in the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. Tests should not be done in laundry or utility rooms, kitchens or bathrooms. Once you have tested, further action can be taken based upon your results. If your home's level is over 4 PiC/L, you should consider verification testing and having a radon mitigation system installed. Anyone interested in mitigating his or her home for radon should consult MDH's list of certified radon mitigation contractors at

For more information on radon testing and mitigation visit or call the Minnesota Department of Health Indoor Air Unit at 651-201-4601 or 1-800-798-9050.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011 MN Junior Duck Stamp Contest

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now accepting entries for the 2011 Minnesota Junior Duck Stamp Contest, which is administered by Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge). Entries must be postmarked by March 15, 2011.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have held a Jr. Duck Stamp Contest in Minnesota since 1993. Last year, Nick Buchal from Mahtomedi won the Minnesota contest and placed in the top 10 nationally with an oil painting of Green-winged Teals. The conservation message winner, Christopher Wreede from Litchfield is helping to promote awareness of the program through his statement, "A balance between Innovation and Conservation is the key to a balanced future."

This dynamic educational program uses both conservation and design principles to teach wetland habitat and waterfowl biology to students in kindergarten through high school. The program provides an opportunity for students to artistically express their knowledge of the diversity, interdependence and beauty of wildlife.

Students may submit artwork featuring one of the following species: whistling ducks, swans, geese, brant, dabbling ducks, diving ducks, sea ducks, mergansers, stiff tails, or Hawaiian ducks.

A full list of permitted species is available online at Judging will be open to the general public, and will be begin at 9:00 am on March 21 at Refuge’s Bloomington Visitor Center. Artwork entries will be judged on the basis of original design, anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for reproduction on a 1” by 1.5” stamp.

During the contest, students will be judged in four groups according to grade level: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. Three first, three second and three third place entries, along with 16 honorable mentions will be selected from each group. Contest judges select a “Best of Show” from the twelve first place winners, which will be submitted to the Federal Duck Stamp Office and entered into the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest held in April at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Pennsylvania. Along with the art, a conservation message will be selected from each state’s submission. The top three winners in art and conservation message of the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest receive scholarships.

The first place art from the national, contest is used to create a National Junior Duck Stamp each year. The Junior Duck Stamp is available for $5 from the U.S. Postal Service and from many National Wildlife Refuges. Proceeds from the sale of the stamps support conservation education and provide awards and scholarships for participating students, teachers and schools.

A downloadable entry form and information on contest rules and regulations for teachers and supervising adults can be found online at For additional information or if you have questions regarding your student’s or school’s participation in the Junior Duck Stamp contest, please contact your Junior Duck Stamp State Coordinator, Mara Koenig at 952-858-0710, Entries and reference forms should be postmarked by March 15, 2011 and mailed to:

c/o Junior Duck Stamp Coordinator

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
3815 American Blvd E.
Bloomington, MN 55425

2011 Dairy Cow College Dates Set

The 2011 Dairy Cow College program will include presentations on animal welfare and milk quality standards. New milk quality standards, and dairy cow health and welfare, are among the topics for the 2011 Dairy Cow College sessions.

Dairy Cow College is a joint effort of the North Dakota State University Extension Service and Midwest Dairy Association (MDA) in cooperation with the NDSU Animal Sciences Department.

The dates and locations for this year’s sessions are:

Jan. 31 - KEM Electric Cooperative, Linton
Feb. 1 - Youth Building, Morton County Fairgrounds, New Salem
Feb. 2 – Grand Dakota Lodge and Conference Center, Dickinson
Feb. 3 - The Ranch House, Towner
Feb. 4 – AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Valley City
All of the sessions will begin with registration and coffee at 10 a.m. local time and run from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Midwest Dairy Association is sponsoring lunch. Registration is not necessary for those who do not plan to eat lunch.

Other topics include striking a balance among ethics, science and economics; reducing lameness in the dairy herd; and how European Union regulations affect U.S. milk standards.

Presenters are Schroeder and Jan Shearer, a professor and Extension veterinarian at Iowa State University.

Other activities will include American Dairy Association and MDA district meetings and a question-and-answer session.

For more information about Dairy Cow College, contact your county Extension office, Schroeder at (701) 231-7663 or, or the following Extension agents:
Linton - Doug Bichler, (701) 254-4811,, or Crystal Schaunaman, (701) 288-3465,

New Salem - Jackie Buckley, (701) 667-3340,, or Rick Schmidt, (701) 794-8748,

Dickinson - Kurt Froelich, (701) 456-7665,, or David Twist, (701) 764-5593,

Towner - Raquel Dugan-Dibble, (701) 537-5405,, or Mike Rose, (701) 857-6444,

Valley City - Randy Grueneich, (701) 845-8528,, or Lance Brower, (701) 252-9030,

Monday, January 3, 2011

Walk North Dakota

The North Dakota State University Extension Service's Walk North Dakota program can help you get moving. The program challenges you to walk 200 miles during an eight-week period. The next session runs Jan. 9 to March 5.

To reach the 200-mile goal, you'll need to walk about 10,000 steps a day at least five days a week. That's the equivalent of walking five miles a day.

"But don't worry if you can't manage that many steps," says Linda Hauge, Walk North Dakota coordinator. "Walk as many steps as you feel comfortable walking, and keep trying to walk a little more each week."

This is how the program works: Put on a pedometer in the morning and record the number of steps you've taken by the end of the day. Then report those steps every two weeks. If you don't own a pedometer, record one mile or 2,000 steps for every 20 minutes you walk.

You can report your progress online at or on a mail-in postcard. If you report online, you'll receive an e-mail message reminding you when to report.

You can join Walk North Dakota as an individual or part of a group. Groups that haven't participated in the program should send an e-mail to You don't need to live in North Dakota to participate.

The registration fee is $10 per person for anyone age 19 or older and $5 for youth age 18 and younger. North Dakota 4-H'ers can participate free of charge.

Go to the Walk North Dakota website at to register. For more information, contact Hauge at (701) 231-7964 or

Since the program started in May 2004, 4,076 participants have walked about 1.58 billion steps, or approximately 792,989 miles.

Norman County Crops, Seed & Trade Show

34th Annual Norman County Crops, Seed & Trade Show will be Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at the VFW Ballroom, Ada, Minnesota

Presiding: David and Christina Lien, Norman County Agassiz Valley Leaders, 2011

Morning Activities:
8:15 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Crop Samples Entries—Coffee—View Exhibits
8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Norman/Mahnomen Public Health - Blood pressure & flu (free) vaccinations available, information on skin cancer screenings
9:00 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. Welcome and Early Bird Drawings
9:10 a.m. - 9:40 a.m. Randy Tufton & Shawnn Balstad - USDA – FSA Farm Program Update & NRCS Programs – EQIP, CSP
9:40 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Heather Dose – NRCS-USDA, Web Soil Survey
10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Break - Visit Trade Show Exhibitors – Health Checks Available
10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Jess Detterman, Contractor, Field Drainage Inc. – Sub-surface Field Drainage - from A-Z.
11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Dr. Jochum Wiersma, U of M Extension, Small Grains Specialist, Results from the 2010 Wheat Protein Sampling Project & Nutrient Management Tips.
11:45 p.m. - Noon David Torgeson & Board Directors, MAWG/MWRPC - Policy Update/Priority Report/Check-off Increase/Budget Report.
Noon Break: Visit Commercial Booths—Lunch, Blood Pressure Checks & Vacinations , Norman/Mahnomen Public Health

Afternoon Program
1:10 p.m. - 1:40 p.m. John Oades, Vice President, US Wheat Associates – Current World and US Wheat Supply and its Impact on Spring Wheat Prices
1:40 p.m. - 2:10 p.m. Dr. Jim Anderson, Wheat Breeder, U of M, 2011 Variety Selection and Expanded Breeding Program
2:10 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Break -Visit Trade Show Exhibitors
2:30 p.m.—3:00 p.m. Dr. Mohamed Mergoum, Wheat Breeder, NDSU, - NDSU Spring Wheat Breeding Program – The Past, Present and Future: Traditions, Changes and Partnerships
3:10 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Crop Show Awards; Door Prize Drawings
12:30 – 3:30 MN Wheat Council Elections for Areas 1, 2, & 3

This event is co-sponsored by Norman County Crop Improvement Association, Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council, and the University of Minnesota Extension . The program is held in conjunction with the Annual Small Grains Update. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.