Thursday, March 31, 2011

NW Minnesota Women's Fund seeks outstanding "Community Builders"

Since 1998, the Northwest Minnesota Women's Fund has honored 33 women who have demonstrated leadership for improving the quality of their own lives or those around them. In our increasingly complex society, the Women’s Fund seeks to applaud the efforts of the women who have made Northwest Minnesota a better place to live, work, raise families, and have fun.

The Women’s Fund is asking for your assistance in recognizing these women who live in the counties of Beltrami, Clearwater, Marshall, Hubbard, Pennington, Polk, Kittson, Red Lake, Norman, Mahnomen, Roseau and Lake of the Woods. Nomination forms can be obtained from the Northwest Minnesota Foundation web site ( or by calling 218-759-2057 or 1-800-659-7859.

All nomination forms must be submitted by June 1, 2011. After the selections, the Advisory Committee will plan and host receptions in the recipients’ hometowns, to be held in late summer or early fall.
“Community Builders” awards are given based on the following criteria:

Leadership: A woman who through leadership roles has made significant contributions to her community; and through volunteerism, citizenship or community service has significantly improved the lives of women and girls.

Outstanding Mentor: A woman who has demonstrated wisdom and devotion to helping others; a role model and mentor who has supported and encouraged positive development in young women, and who also shows the characteristics necessary for success while actively sharing her skills.

Professional Excellence: A woman who has demonstrated leadership and excellence in her work, and whose leadership has benefited her community and/or her company; and outstanding entrepreneur; a role model for other women in achieving success in traditional or non-traditional positions.

The Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund, a component of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, serves as a catalyst for improving the quality of life for women and girls by focusing on women’s initiatives, leadership and philanthropy to build successful communities.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2nd Sustainability Supper at UMC on Thursday, April 7,

CROOKSTON, Minn. – The second in a series of “sustainability supper seminars” will take place on Thursday, April 7, 2011, at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. The theme for the dinner is the International Dimensions of Sustainability and it will begin at 5 p.m. in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center.

A meal from the campus dining buffet line, will allow participants to spend the evening learning about sustainability and its various applications in other lands. Interested students, faculty and staff, community leaders, ministers, agency personnel, farmers, and business and industry representatives are welcome to participate by contacting Michael Knudson, Minnesota GreenCorps member, at 218-281-8128 ( by April 4 for reservations.

The schedule for the evening includes a welcome and introductions by Director of the Center for Sustainability Dan Svedarsky. Presentations during the evening include: Sophomore Tashi Gurung, an environmental sciences and communication double major from Kathmandu, Nepal, who will be presenting on recycling in Nepal; Senior Nikolay Seregin, a natural resources major from Moscow, Russia, sharing information on sustainability in Russia; and Min-seong Kim, an English as a Second Language student from Gyeonggi, Korea, who will present his study of eco-friendly marketing in Korea. Also speaking is Senior Jeff Cook, a natural resources major from Eagan, Minn., who will give his presentation on the “Impressions of climate change from a Will Steger trek to Baffin Island.”

Approximately 30 participants from diverse backgrounds took part in the inaugural program on March 24 which provided a briefing on overall definitions and applications of the concept of sustainability and initiatives underway on the UMC campus; as well as exploration of the “Communiversity” concept. “It’s ideal to have a broad spectrum audience in sessions like these for it provides rich discussion and the clarification of ideas,” according to co-convenor, Dan Svedarsky. “We had fun and everyone came away better informed.”

A mini-grant from the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment is helping fund the series of bi-weekly, "sustainability supper seminars" designed to educate the campus and the local community on sustainability applications.

Monday, March 28, 2011

4-H Film Festival to Showcase Youths' Talent

The North Dakota Center for 4-H Youth Development is giving kids a chance to test their creativity and video-making skills this summer.

Youth will be able to create and submit a one- to 10-minute video in one of four categories. Judges will select the top three videos in each category. Those videos will be shown at the North Dakota 4-H Film Festival during the State Fair in Minot.

After the showing, set for 2 p.m. July 24 in the Norsk Room at the State Fair Center on the fairgrounds, the audience will vote on the video to receive the People's Choice Award.

The competition is open to teams of youth in the sixth through 12th grade this school year. Each team should consist of one to four members. At least one member should be a 4-H'er. To join 4-H, visit

The four categories are:

* Fur, Feathers and Fins -- This should be a video featuring an animal as the main character or teaching how to train or work with an animal.

* 4-H SET on Going Green -- This video should promote conservation and "going green," which is the process of changing one's lifestyle by using environmentally friendly products, recycling and limiting the use of natural resources.

* Discover 4-H -- This video should promote 4-H.

* Just for Fun! -- This is a video that doesn't fit into any of the other categories.

Teams who created the top three videos in each category will receive a certificate and a $100 cash award that is to be split among the team members. The team receiving the People's Choice Award also will receive a certificate and a $100 cash prize.

Teams need to register by June 15 and submit their video by June 24.

For more details about the competition and links to information on digital storytelling and tips and tricks on videoing and video editing, click on the 4-H Film Festival link at

"We know we have a lot of talented youth in North Dakota, so we are excited about holding the 4-H Film Festival," says Linda Hauge, NDSU 4-H youth development specialist and festival organizer. "We hope to make this an annual event."

Protect Your Wells From Flooding

Protecting your well from floodwaters now can reduce your work later.

"If you live in a flood-prone area, you or a licensed well-drilling contractor can determine if your well is sited and constructed so that it is protected," says Roxanne Johnson, North Dakota State University Extension Service water quality associate. "If your well is more than 50 years old or less than 50 feet deep, it likely could be contaminated by floodwaters."

Here are some steps to take if you think your well is in danger of being flooded:

* Store a supply of water before taking your well out of service.

* Turn off the electrical power to your well and seal the well by installing a watertight cap or cover. This watertight seal replaces the regular vented cap for the duration of the flood.

* If you don't have time to install a watertight cap, clean the outside of the well casing and cover the top of the well with a heavy-duty trash bag or other heavy plastic sheeting. Secure the plastic covering with electrical or strapping tape or some other type of waterproof taping material. Don't use duct tape because it is not waterproof.

* Do not store oil, gasoline, solvents, animal wastes and chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers within 100 feet of the well to reduce the chance of contaminants entering your well and contaminating the groundwater.

* Place freestanding fuel tanks where flooding will not affect them, or anchor the tanks to keep them from moving with the floodwaters. Identify large tanks with your name and address so they can be returned if they become displaced. Store drums and smaller containers in a fenced area, cabinet or storeroom.

* Determine whether underground tanks are engineered to keep them from floating out of the ground if the contents are lighter than water.

"Once the water has receded, you need to determine if water reached the well casing," Johnson says. "If it did, you should assume that your well was contaminated and take measures to make sure your well is safe."

The first step is to determine if sediment or mud got into the well. If it did, contact a well driller to clean out the well.

Next, you will need to disinfect your well. You can do this yourself or have the well contractor do it following the cleaning operation. Information on this process is available at For a list of well contractors, visit

After the well is disinfected, you will need to have a certified laboratory test your water for coliform bacteria. A list of laboratories also is available at

"Paying attention to the contaminants on your farm and protecting your well now will help decrease possible contamination if flooding occurs," Johnson says.

Third Annual “Fiesta in the Spirit of Cinco de Mayo” April 15, 2011, at U of M, Crookston

CROOKSTON, Minn. – It’s a celebration Ramona Mendez would have loved, and one her son, Ken, is proud to have brought to the University of Minnesota, Crookston. Music, dance, and authentic Mexican cuisine highlight the “Fiesta in the Spirit of Cinco de Mayo” taking place on the Crookston campus on April 15, 2011. With new activities, this year’s event promises to be the best one yet and the evening will also mark the kick off of the Ramona Mendez Endowed Scholarship fund drive.

The “Fiesta in the Spirit of Cinco de Mayo” is the kind of event Ken feels his mother would have loved and planned herself. “The celebration would have been the perfect night with music and dancing and all the things she loved,” Mendez says. “And, I know the scholarship announcement would have truly humbled my mother who was a very unassuming woman.”

The scholarship was the idea of Leticia Sanchez who works for Migrant Health Services in Crookston Mendez explains. Sanchez shared the idea with some other women and it caught on. Corby Kemmer, director of development and alumni relations on the Crookston campus is encouraged to see the creation of the scholarship fund. “We are here to support students as they pursue their dreams of an education,” he says. “The scholarship fund created to honor the memory of Ramona Mendez is a tribute to Ken as he completes his bachelor’s degree and an encouragement to others to do the same.”

The scholarship is something Ken says he could not have imagined a few years ago. A senior majoring in communication, Ken will graduate in May and his only regret is that his mother cannot see him graduate. “I know how happy my graduation would have made her, and it is bittersweet that she cannot be here to share the day with me and my family.”

The “Fiesta in the Spirit of Cinco de Mayo” begins at 4 p.m. and runs through midnight with a host of activities for all ages. From 4 to 7 p.m. there will be a marketplace and children’s activities in the Sargeant Student Center. Authentic Mexican cuisine will be featured at a dinner beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Brown dining room and running concurrently will be a social with appetizers and music in the Eagles Nest. From 7 to 9 p.m. a program in Kiehle Auditorium will feature the dance troupe, Los Alegres Bailadores from Cottage Grove, Minn. The evening concludes with a family dance with the music of Sonora CafĂ© in Lysaker Gymnasium from 9 p.m. to midnight. All events are free and everyone is welcome.

The evening is made possible by a grant from the State of Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Foundation Legacy Amendment, University of Minnesota Crookston Concerts and Lectures fund and the Coke Community Initiative fund, a grant for cultural projects from the Crookston High School, and a donation from RiverView Health in Crookston.

For more information on the Legacy Destination weekend, visit

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives will be meeting with local community members on Sunday, March 27. Legislative leaders will present budget proposals to fill the $5 billion state budget deficit and get input from community members on the budget proposals.

Sunday, March 27, 1-2PM Bemidji Budget Briefing
Location: BSU, Hobson Memorial Union, Crying Wolf Room

Sunday, March 27, 3:30 - 4:30 PM Grand Rapids Budget Briefing
Location: Itasca Community College, Wilson Hall

Legislators in attendance will include:

Rep. John Persell (DFL - Bemidji, Assistant Minority Leader)
Rep. Mike Nelson (DFL - Brooklyn Park)
Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL - St. Paul)

Mn/DOT asks Minnesotans for input

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesotans will help determine the state’s transportation system vision for the next 50 years when the Minnesota Department of Transportation today rolls out a process for the public to provide input to that vision.

“Minnesota GO is our opportunity to hear from Minnesotans about their expectations for transportation today and for the next generation of Minnesotans,” said Tom Sorel, Mn/DOT commissioner. “We are committed to creating a transportation system that will sustain and connect a vital economy, healthy environment and strong communities.”

The process will help the agency prioritize many goals, limited financial resources and an aging infrastructure.

Mn/DOT’s transportation system responsibilities include:

• Planning, building and maintaining state roads, bridg es, and trails for vehicle operators, bicyclists and pedestrians.
• Planning and funding regional airports, railroads, public transit and ports owned and operated by local governments and private companies.
• Providing technical and financial assistance for local roads.

Minnesota GO will take place through August 2011 and provide Minnesotans with opportunities to get involved through online activities, advisory groups, public workshops and hearings. Mn/DOT also will reach individuals through targeted outreach. A 29-member steering committee representing other public agencies and community organizations will review public comments, advisory group discussions, and quality of life research. The group will then draft and recommend a vision statement and set of objectives for the Mn/DOT commissioner and senior leadership to adopt.

At the end of the process, Mn/DOT will begin updating the statewide multimodal transportation plan and other investments and plans for roads, rails, transit, airports, ports and trails.

Minnesotans interested in becoming involved can check out The website is hosted by the Citizen’s League and will be updated regularly with new content, discussion questions, surveys and videotaped interviews on a range of topics. Eight public workshops will take place in May 2011.

NDSU Sets LiDAR Application Workshops

Introductory Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) workshops are scheduled for Tuesday, April 5, in Park River and Thursday, April 7, in Wahpeton.

The workshop in Park River will be held at the Park River City Office building at 514 Briggs Ave. S. The Wahpeton workshop will be held at the Law Enforcement Center at 418 Second Ave. N. Both workshops will start at 9 a.m. and end at noon.

LIDAR is a technology that utilizes lasers to determine the distance to an object or surface by measuring the time delay between the transmission and
reflection of a pulse. LiDAR technology has been used in airplanes to measure features on the Earth's surface, including a detailed elevation model.

LiDAR data can be used to create accurate ground surface elevation contours that can be used to prepare both surface and subsurface field drainage patterns. Workshop participants will learn how to download LiDAR images for their fields and how to use a free geographic information system viewer to prepare initial drainage patterns for fields.

John Nowatzki, North Dakota State University Extension Service agricultural machine systems specialist, will present the LiDAR information at the workshops.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own computers to use during the workshop. However, computers will be available for participants without

Preregistration is requested for the workshops. To register for the Park River workshop, go to,event=8b4bd0d98c38 or call the Walsh County Extension Service office at (701) 284-6248.

To register for the Wahpeton workshop, go to,event=7b3bc0c97c27 or call the Richland County Extension Service office at (701) 642-7793.

The workshops will not cover the final steps of installing LiDAR contour maps into computer programs that are used on surface or tile installation equipment.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NDSU Animal Sciences Students Win Honors

Four North Dakota State University Animal Sciences students brought home honors from the Academic Quadrathlon portion of the Midwest American Society of Animal Science/American Dairy Science Association annual meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.

The NDSU team took first place in the Academic Quadrathlon's oral presentation and written exam competitions. The other two events that make up the Quadrathlon are lab practicum and Quiz Bowl. The NDSU team placed second overall.

Team members are Nathan Hayes, Big Lake, Minn.; Beth Hendrickx, Bowman; Quynn Larson, Brandon, S.D.; and Phil Steichen, Ulen, Minn.

The regional competition was held at Iowa State University and the Polk County Convention Center in Des Moines on March 13-14.

Teams compete at the local level to advance to the regional competition. The competition tests students on the knowledge they gain from their classes.

"Placing in this competition highlights the Animal Sciences Department's success in training its students to have a well-rounded animal science education," says Kasey Carlin, the NDSU team's adviser.

NDSU's team competed against teams of animal science students from 14 other colleges and universities in the Midwest region.

"We are proud of these students and their accomplishments," says Greg Lardy, Animal Sciences Department head. "It highlights just how competitive NDSU and the Animal Sciences Department are in the Midwest region. It shows the strength of our program and the great faculty we have."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Public Comment on Lake Park layer hen facility

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is inviting public comment on an Environmental Assessment Worksheet prepared for a proposed expansion of a layer hen total confinement facility near Lake Park. The comment period ends April 20.

Jona Baer, Inc. is proposing to remodel an existing poultry laying barn to install new battery cages, as well as a continuous manure air drying and conveyor system, and extending an existing 80-foot by 200-foot manure storage barn by an additional 80 feet.

An EAW is a preliminary environmental review of how a proposed project could potentially affect the environment. The EAW also helps the MPCA determine if a more in-depth environmental study is needed.

Copies of the EAW are available on the MPCA website and at the MPCA regional office in Detroit Lakes. For more information, call Dan Olson at the MPCA in Detroit Lakes at 218-846-8108.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Public meeting on Highway 11 construction between Indus and Loman set for April 5

BEMIDJI, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation has scheduled a public information meeting to discuss improvements planned for Highway 11 from one mile west of Indus to 0.7 miles west of Loman in Koochiching County.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Birchdale Community Center,10370 State Hwy.11, Birchdale, Minnesota..

The project is scheduled for a bid letting in April 2012, with construction expected to start July, 2012. Crews will replace culverts, widen shoulders and provide a mill and overlay. A detour may be necessary to accomplish the work in a shorter time frame.

Debra Bauer, Mn/DOT project manager, and other engineering staff will be on hand to discuss project work schedules, time frames, traffic control and potential detour plans.

To request accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, such as an ASL interpreter or other reasonable accommodations, call 651-366-4720 or send an e-mail to Please request at least one week in advance of the meeting date.

For information on state road conditions and construction, visit or call 511.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

2012 National Delegate Selection Plan Now Open for Public Comment

St. Paul (March 17, 2011) — The plan that will govern delegate selection processes for the 2012 Democratic National Convention is now available for public comment at

The DFL plan is written in accordance with the processes set forth by the Charter of the Democratic Party of the United States, the Constitution and By-laws of the Minnesota DFL Party, the Democratic National Committee's 2012 Convention Rules, the Democratic National Committee's 2012 Convention Regulations, and the Minnesota Revised Statutes. It encourages full participation by all Democrats in the delegate selection process and in all Party business by implementing Diversity Programs with particular concern for minority groups.

Minnesotans can submit their comments by email to or by postal mail to DFL Party Affairs, 255 E. Plato Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55107. The public comment period will end at 5:00 p.m. on April 14th.

Public comment will be reviewed and the Draft Delegate Selection and Affirmative Action Plan voted upon by the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee on April 16th. Following adoption by the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee, the Delegate Selection Plan will be submitted to the Democratic National Committee's Rules and By-laws Committee, which will hold hearings throughout the summer to approve plans on a state-by-state basis.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Consumers Report Many Issues with Magazine Telemarketing Firm

March 16, 2011 – St. Paul, MN – The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) has given Midwest Home Office, Inc., a telemarketing firm which sells magazine subscriptions, an “ F” rating, which is the lowest rating a company can get. Complaints to the BBB involve allegations of sales practice issues, non-delivery of magazines and free gifts, and customer service issues.

Customers who have filed complaints through the BBB state company representatives contacted them saying they had won a $1,000 online shopping spree. However, customers allege that the prize would only be awarded if they also agreed to purchase magazine subscriptions. Some customers say that after agreeing to buy magazine subscriptions they were then billed for a higher amount than had been discussed. Others stated they either didn’t receive their magazines in a timely manner or didn’t receive the promised shopping spree.

“At a time when subscription costs are going down for most magazines, customers really need to take time to carefully assess these telemarketing pitches,” said Dana Badgerow. “Paying $30 a month on an impulse purchase might not seem like much at first, but it adds up very quickly over the course of the sales agreement – which in some cases is three years.”

Other complaints against Midwest Home Office, Inc. involve poor customer service. Some customers allege that after agree ing to buy subscriptions, the company was not helpful when they tried to cancel after the fact or refused to cancel the agreements as promised, leading to unwanted credit card charges.

Midwest Home Office, Inc. is headquartered in Crystal, Minnesota. The company has responded to all complaints filed through the BBB, in most cases by settling consumers’ accounts for payments made and allowing customers to continue receiving the magazines they ordered. However, based on the pattern of complaints, the company has failed to correct the underlying cause of the complaints.

If you’re contacted by a telemarketer selling magazine subscriptions, the BBB recommends the following steps to avoid potential problems:

Have the company send you their offer in writing before committing to a purchase or providing a credit card. In many cases, customers don’t understand all of th e terms of the contracts they’re entering into.

Do the math. Monthly payments add up quickly. Take time to sketch out the terms of the agreement; see what it will cost you over the long run.
Decide if you really need or want the magazines. If no one had contacted you, would you order them otherwise?

Comparison shop. With the publishing industry facing increased competition from the Internet, many publishers are steeply discounting their subscription rates. If there’s a magazine you’re interested in, find out how much it would cost to purchase a subscription directly from the publisher.

Don’t let yourself be pressured. It’s a lot easier to say ‘no’ or you need more time upfront than it is to get out of an agreement once you enter into it.

Walk ND Challenge Starts April 10

Winter was long, and you're anxious to get your body in motion. The Walk North Dakota program can help you put a spring in your step.

Walk North Dakota is a North Dakota State University Extension Service program to motive people to increase their physical activity no matter how busy they are. It challenges people to walk 200 miles during an eight-week period.

To reach that 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. To put that into perspective, people take an average of 2,000 to 4,000 steps a day.

The next Walk North Dakota session runs April 10 to June 4.

"Don't worry if you can't manage 10,000 steps a day," 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'll receive an incentive if you report every two weeks.

You can report your progress online at or on a mail-in postcard.

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 18 and younger. North Dakota 4-H'ers and 4-H leaders 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, 4,114 participants have walked nearly 1.6 billion steps or about 797,943 miles.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

UMC graduation

CROOKSTON, Minn. – University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks will address graduates at the U of M, Crookston during its commencement exercises on Saturday, May 7, 2011. The ceremony, which recognizes the 103rd graduating class on the campus, will begin at 2 p.m. in Lysaker Gymnasium.

Bruininks was appointed the 15th president of the University of Minnesota on November 8, 2002, and will be stepping down from the role of president at the end of June 2011. He has served the university for more than 40 years, formerly as a professor, dean, and executive vice president and provost. With more than 65,000 students system-wide, the U of M is one of the largest institutions of higher education in the country. Both as a faculty member and as an administrator, Bruininks has worked to advance the public mission and responsibilities of the University.

“Anytime we host the University’s president on our campus, it is indeed a pleasure for us,” said Andrew Svec, chair of the commencement committee. “But, having President Bruininks here to give the commencement address will make this day one of the most memorable in our history, and we are truly looking forward to having him here with us to celebrate the Class of 2011.”

Since 2004, Bruininks has overseen a transformative strategic positioning effort at the University that has raised the bar considerably for the University's academic profile, its service to students and the community, and its stewardship of resources.

At the end of his presidency, Bruininks will join the faculty at the Humphrey Institute on June 30, 2011. The Humphrey Institute ranks among the top professional schools of public affairs at public universities in the country.

Events on graduation day begin with a reception in the Sargeant Student Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend the reception and the graduation ceremonies that follow. Commencement will begin with the traditional processional by faculty, staff, and graduates from the student center to Lysaker Gymnasium at 2 p.m. For more information, visit

Seminar Series at UMC

CROOKSTON, Minn. – A mini-grant from the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment will help fund a series of bi-weekly, “sustainability supper seminars” designed to educate the campus and the local community on sustainability applications. In June of 2010, Chancellor Charles Casey approved an Action Plan for Climate Neutrality and Sustainability and this will be the primary focus of the seminars. The plan sets a target date of 2030 to achieve a balance between carbon released (primarily in the form of carbon dioxide) and the amount trapped or not produced; primarily by conserving energy and shifting to renewable sources.

The plan is far reaching and extends not only to energy conservation and efficiency issues directly, but also to transportation, communication, local foods, recycling, and interdisciplinary education approaches. All campuses of the University of Minnesota have or are developing such an action plan which better positions the University to not only model environmental stewardship but also save money through enhanced operation efficiencies. Numerous other campuses across the country are engaged in similar efforts.

Another over-arching goal of the seminar series is to better connect the campus to the community by creating a more functional, “Communiversity.” Hopefully, participants will reach a deeper understanding of the system dynamics approach to problem solving, sustainability and its many applications; to strive toward a more functional “learning community”; and to seek ways for better synergy in the use of common resources.

Dan Svedarsky, professor and director of the Center for Sustainability and Scott Johnson will co-lead discussions and will launch the first seminar on Thursday, March 24, 2011, at 5 p.m. Svedarsky will address, “The board brush of sustainability, global and local” and Johnson, a systems design consultant from Grand Forks, will outline the application of the systems approach to complex campus-community sustainability initiatives. The session is scheduled for Bede Ballroom on the UMC campus. A meal from the campus dining buffet line, will allow participants to spend the evening in conversation around a specific topic and engage others in the exploration of ideas relative to sustainability. Interested students, faculty and staff, community leaders, ministers, agency personnel, farmers, and business and industry representatives are welcome to participate by contacting Michael Knudson, Minnesota GreenCorps member, at 218-281-8128 ( by March 22 for reservations.

Upcoming sessions will include; International dimensions of sustainability (presented by UMC international students and faculty); an Earth Week presentation on April 20 on urban ecosystems; Implementing climate neutrality plans for campuses; Peak oil implications for broad-scale planning; Energy efficiency and renewable energy perspectives; The many values of local food production; and Faith-based approaches to sustainability.

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

Private water well owners in flood prone areas urged to take precautions - before and after flooding

An ounce of prevention now could save gallons of cure later for private water well owners facing floods this spring, said state health officials today.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is advising well owners that private water wells contaminated with flood water can pose a health risk. MDH recommends that well owners take precautions before possible flooding and take corrective actions should a well be flooded.

MDH recommends that well owners take the following steps if they think their well may become flooded:

Store a supply of clean water before taking your well out of service.
Disconnect the power supply for your well. If you need help, consult with a licensed well contractor or pump installer.

If you have time, have a well contractor install a water-tight cap or cover on your well – temporarily replacing the regular vented well cap or seal.

If you don’t have time to have a professional install a watertight cap, clean off the outside of the well casing and cover the top of the well with a heavy-duty trash bag or some other form of heavy plastic sheeting. Secure the plastic covering with electrical tape or some other type of waterproof tape or strapping material. Do not use duct tape – it won’t hold under flooding conditions.

Be prepared to have your well disinfected and tested after the flood waters recede, if your well does become flooded. Sealing won’t eliminate the need for disinfection and testing, but it will keep debris and sediment out of the well, and make the post-flood clean-up go more smoothly.

If flood waters cover the top of the water well casing, water from your well should not be used for drinking or cooking until the floodwater recedes and the well is disinfected and tested. Until then, use bottled water for drinking, cooking or brushing your teeth.

After the flood waters recede, if the water reached your well casing, assume your well is contaminated. You should take the following steps to make sure your well is safe:

If your well was not capped or sealed prior to the flooding, have a professional well driller clean out any sediment. Using your well pump to flush out the well could ruin the pump. A directory of licensed well contractors is available on the MDH website at:

Disinfect the well yourself or have a well contractor disinfect the well. Disinfect the well using a chlorine solution before having it tested.
Detailed instructions are available at:
After disinfecting the well and pumping out the chlorine solution, contact a testing laboratory about submitting a water sample. Tell the lab staff you need to have your well tested for coliform bacteria – or simply “bacteria.” They will tell you what you need to do, and provide a bottle for the sample. To find a lab, contact your local health department, or go to:

Be prepared to repeat the disinfection and testing process several times, if necessary, to ensure that your well is free of bacterial contamination.
Don’t drink water from your well until the lab has informed you that it is safe, and free of bacterial contamination.

If flood water came within 50 feet of your well – but did not reach the wellhead:

You may still want to have your water tested as a precaution.
You should not need to disinfect your well before having it tested.

If flood water did not come within 50 feet of your well, you do not need to do anything and your well should be fine.

For more information about well safety and protecting your health during a flood, visit

Spring truck weight restrictions begin March 18 for north, north-central frost zones

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Spring truck weight restrictions on state highways will begin March 18 for Minnesota's north and north-central frost zones. Spring weight restrictions for the south, southeast and Twin Cities Metro area frost zones began March 14; restrictions for the central frost zone begin March 16.

Mn/DOT limits truck weights to prevent damage to roads weakened during the spring thaw.

Spring load restriction dates and the six frost zones in Minnesota are listed on Mn/DOT’s website at Click on "Seasonal Load Limits," then click on "Spring Load Restrictions" for the most up-to-date information.

The information also is available toll-free by calling 1-800-723-6543 in the United States and Canada or by calling 651-366-5400 in the Twin Cities Metro area.

Ending dates for spring load restrictions are established by monitoring roadway strength as weather conditions change. All changes are made with a minimal three-day notice.

Travelers in Minnesota can get up-to-date information on road conditions, construction and weather reports from Mn/DOT's 511 traveler information service. Dial 5-1-1 or visit

Monday, March 14, 2011

National science organization recognizes efforts to slow the spread of gypsy moths

St. Paul, Minn. – The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is giving special recognition to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and other state and federal partners for efforts to slow the spread of gypsy moths. The AAAS will be acknowledging the national “Slow-the-Spread of the Gypsy Moth” (STS) Program at its scientific roundtable on March 15 in Washington, D.C.

STS is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service national strategy to manage the gypsy moth in the United States. State and federal partners, located along the leading population edge of the generally infested area, implement STS cooperatively. The purpose of STS is to reduce the overall rate at which the generally infested area expands. Minnesota has been part of this program since 2004.

“The Slow-the-Spread Program helps MDA and our other state and federal partners use the latest technology and science to help protect our environment from invasive species like gypsy moth,” said MDA Plant Protection Director Geir Friisoe. “We appreciate this acknowledgement of our hardworking staff that has played an important role in keeping gypsy moth in check in Minnesota.”

According to AAAS, STS was chosen for this honor because of several factors focusing on research and development. The program has led to the use of cutting-edge geospatial tools and management models. This has enabled better data collection and decision-making. Also, STS has been able to interpret and enhance uses for synthetic formulations of gypsy moth sex pheromones. The use of these pheromones allows for treatment of the moths without harm to any other organism. Through these combined efforts, STS has been able to cut down the rate of gypsy moth spread by 60 percent.

Gypsy moth is one of America’s most destructive tree pests. The insects have caused millions of dollars in damage to forests as it has spread from New England to Wisconsin in recent decades. Gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate large sections of forest, with oak, poplar, birch and willow among their preferred hosts. The pests are common in Wisconsin and are now threatening eastern Minnesota. More information about gypsy moths and MDA’s battle against these forest pests can be found on the MDA website at

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an international non-profit organization with offices in Washington, D.C. and Cambridge, United Kingdom. AAAS serves over 260 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million people. The organization is dedicated to advancing “science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.” (

BBB Advises Donors on Tsunami Relief Efforts

St. Paul, Minnesota – March 14, 2011 – In the wake of the most powerful earthquake to ever hit Japan, many Americans want to help those impacted by the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) warns donors to exercise caution when making donations to relief agencies and charities.

“In the face of any disaster, Americans immediately step forward with donations to aid the victims and their families,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen time and time again that scammers will try to take advantage of that generosity, which is why it’s so important to take your time and do your research before donating to relief efforts.”

The BBB offers the following advice for donors to ensure their donations go to trustworthy relief efforts:

• Before donating, visit to research organizations you’re considering supporting.
• Be sure that the charity is experienced in carrying out relief efforts in the wake of a natural disaster. Although well-intentioned, they may not be able to effectively deliver aid to those in need.
• Don’t give your credit card number or other personal information to a telephone solicitor or in response to an e-mail solicitation.
• Be aware that while donating via text (through your cell phone carrier) is an easy way to give, funds may not be available for relief efforts as quickly as they would be if donations were made directly through the websites of individual charities and relief organizations.
• Don’t give in to excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations. Be especially wary of any offer to send a “runner” to pick up your contribution.
• Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances and programs.
• Don’t give cash. Checks or money orders should be made out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.
• Beware fake charities that imitate the name and style of well-known organizations in an attempt to confuse donors.
• Ask what the charity intends to do with any excess contributions remaining once they’ve fully funded the disaster relief activities mentioned in solicitations.
• Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity will do to address the needs of victims and their families.
• Make sure your contribution is tax deductible: donations should be made to charitable organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Go to IRS Publication 78 on the IRS’ website for a current list of all organizations eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable gifts.

For additional information you can trust when making giving decisions, or to view BBB Wise Giving Reports on charities across the nation, start with

Spring truck weight restrictions begin March 16 for central frost zone

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Spring truck weight restrictions on state highways will begin March 16 for Minnesota's central frost zone. Spring weight restrictions for the south, southeast and Twin Cities Metro area frost zones began March 14.

Mn/DOT limits truck weights to prevent damage to roads weakened during the spring thaw.

Spring load restriction dates and the six frost zones in Minnesota are listed on Mn/DOT’s website at Click on "Seasonal Load Limits," then click on "Spring Load Restrictions" for the most up-to-date information.

The information also is available toll-free by calling 1-800-723-6543 in the United States and Canada or by calling 651-366-5400 in the Twin Cities Metro area.

Ending dates for spring load restrictions are established by monitoring roadway strength as weather condit ions change. All changes are made with a minimal three-day notice.

Travelers in Minnesota can get up-to-date information on road conditions, construction and weather reports from Mn/DOT's 511 traveler information service. Dial 5-1-1 or visit

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring truck weight restrictions begin March 14 for south, southeast, Twin Cities frost zones

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Spring truck weight restrictions on state highways will begin March 14 for Minnesota's south, southeast, and Twin Cities Metro area frost zones. Winter load increases and overweight permits remain in place for the state's central, north-central and north frost zones.

Mn/DOT limits truck weights to prevent damage to roads weakened during the spring thaw.

Spring load restriction dates and the six frost zones in Minnesota are listed on Mn/DOT’s website at Click on "Seasonal Load Limits," then click on "Spring Load Restrictions" for the most up-to-date information.

The information also is available toll-free by calling 1-800-723-6543 in the United States and Canada or by calling 651-366-5400 in the Twin Cities Metro area.

Ending dates for spring load restrictions a re established by monitoring roadway strength as weather conditions change. All changes are made with a minimal three-day notice.

Travelers in Minnesota can get up-to-date information on road conditions, construction and weather reports from Mn/DOT's 511 traveler information service. Dial 5-1-1 or visit

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

United for Children Conference Scheduled

The tenth annual United for Children Conference on Early Care and Education will be held Saturday, April 9th from 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM at the Park Rapids Century School.

Pre-registration closes on April 3rd. The fee is $50 and six training hours are earned. More information and online registration is available at or by calling the Northwest Minnesota Foundation at 218-759-2057.

In celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the United for Children conference, all registered participants will receive a free United for Children t-shirt. Pertussis vaccinations are also being offered at no cost to all participants.

The United for Children Conference is a day-long event offering sessions on building vocabulary; infant/toddler development; literacy planning; the impact of grief, loss and trauma; social–emotional development; self-regulation; understanding autism; and, developing a child care business model.

The opening keynote “How Do We Get What We Want for Our Children” will be given by Cindy Croft, the director of the Center for Inclusive Child Care at Concordia University in St. Paul, MN. Croft believes that helping children to be all that they can be is not just a clichĂ©. She will explore the role that child care plays in achieving a happy and healthy early childhood for each child.

The afternoon keynote “Using Your Personal Power Tools” will be given by Cory Woosley, who is the program manager for Eager to Learn at the Minnesota Child Care Resource &Referral. She will speak about the strengths each person applies in the workplace and how identifying personal “power tools” and knowing how to use them can help in every aspect of life.

The United for Children Conference was initiated by Mahube Child Care Resource and Referral in 2002 as a partnership of early childhood programs in the area. It is currently sponsored by the Minnesota Early Childhood Initiatives of Park Rapids, Bemidji and Bagley, in conjunction with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation and Child Care Resource and Referral.
Additional CEUs and one college course credit from Northwest Technical College are offered for additional fees. See for more information.

Contact Holly with questions at 218-759-2057 or

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Red River Valley Development Association Schedules 73rd Annual Honor Banquet

The 73rd Annual Honor Banquet sponsored by the Red River Valley Development Association will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2011, beginning at 12 noon in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center, on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Crookston. Tickets for the noon banquet are available for $15 from the Extension Regional Office, Crookston and can be reserved by calling 1-888-241-0781. Payment can be made at the door.

Individuals from northwest Minnesota will be honored as Valley Farmers and Homemakers for the good example they have set with their family life, community service, farming or agribusiness operations, and their efforts to conserve natural resources.

The Northwest Minnesota Youth Leadership Awards will be presented to several outstanding young adults from the area.

The Red River Valley Development Association includes directors from 14 northwest Minnesota counties. The 2011 Directors and Valley Farmer and Homemaker Honored Couples are:
Becker County – Director Bruce Hein; Honored Couple Curtis and Darlene Ballard of Ogema

Clay County – Director Clarice Schmidt; Honored Couple Lloyd and Janice Alm of Hawley

Clearwater County – Director Allen Paulson; Honored Couple John and Pam Arneson of Shevlin

Kittson County – Director Gary Johnson; Honored Couple Marshal and Lorna Hemmes of Humboldt

Lake of the Woods County – Director Ken Horntvedt; Honored Couple George and Judy Swentik of Baudette

Mahnomen County – Director Jean Nelson; Honored Couple Eugene and Sharon Bisek of Mahnomen

Marshall County – Director Gary Satre; Honored Couple Eric and Lori Johnson of Warren

Norman County – Director Burton Rockstad; Honored Couple Duane and Carol Johnson of Flom

East Otter Tail County – Director Roger Fremming; Honored Couple Eugene and Brenda Roller of Hewitt

West Otter Tail County – Director Daniel Roehl; Honored Couple Willis and Joyce Roehl of Fergus Falls

Pennington County – Director Gladys Hallstrom; Honored Couple Van and Deanna Swanson of Thief River Falls

East Polk County – Director Jerry Erickson; Honoree Floyd Balstad of Winger

West Polk County – Director Curt Knutson; Honored Couple Elliott and Michelle Solheim of Crookston

Red Lake County – Director Larry Johnson; Honored Couple Calvin and Susan Harmoning of Red Lake Falls

Roseau County – Director Buddy Erickson; Honored Couple Kelman and Elizabeth Kvien of Roseau

Wilkin County – Director Milan Drewlow; Honored Couple Dan and Renae Froslie of Rothsay

For more information, contact Deborah Zak, Campus Regional Director, Extension Regional Office, Crookston. Phone: 218-281-8684 or 1-888-241-0781.

North American Farm and Power Show Returns to Owatonna, MN

(March 8, 2011) - Agriculture has changed over the years, and the NAFP Show has grown to meet these challenges. Producers, families and distributors come together for three days of education and entertainment at the Four Season Centre. If you're looking for new farm & ranch technology, feed & seed data, building suppliers, wind energy technology, free educational seminars, the NAFP Show provides all that.
The Linder Farm Network will sponsor the Thursday and Friday morning educational seminars. Chris Nagel-Northstar Commodity-is the feature speaker during Thursday 10:00 am market outlook seminar. Chris will discuss the outlook for the world economy followed by outlooks for cattle, corn and beans. Be there with questions as this be an in depth discussion with Chris.

Friday's morning 10:00 am seminar will feature Terri Erickson, market analyst and commodity broker for Investors Commodity Services and Professional marketing Associated for over 20 year. Terri's seminar outline will include "New Era of Marketing", "Market Outlook for Corn and Beans", "Bigger Opportunities Bigger Risks" "Market Edge and Hot Commodities". Be ready for a question and answer session with Terri.

The University of MN Extension Service will handle the production of Thursday and Friday afternoon. Thursday's afternoon 1:00 pm session will have four speakers with topics on "Soil Fertility", "Farm or Supervise", "Separating Science from the Sale Pitch" and "Synching Up Weather and the Markets". Friday's afternoon 1:00 pm meeting will feature "Commercial Animal Waste Technician Training Session". Custom manure applicators are encouraged to attend!

There is no charge to attend any of these power packed seminars - so be there early to get the best seat!!
Highlights of the 2011 Show include: MN FFA Foundation Silent Auction (bids will be open till 3 pm Sat), farm and ranch equipment displays, alternate energy displays plus up-to-date technology by major manufacturers.
Ag Power Enterprises, Inc. will furnish a 19.5 hp John Deere D110 Lawn Tractor as an attendee grand prize. The grand prize drawing ($1699.00 value) is Saturday at 3:30 pm in the main lobby of the Four Seasons Complex. All attending the farm show are encouraged to sign up!

No admission charge plus free parking on the grounds! Shows hours are 9 am to 5 pm Thursday, 9 am to 5 pm Friday and 9 am to 4 pm Saturday.

Monday, March 7, 2011

War Veterans' stories needed

The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC) at the Hjemkomst Center seeks WWII, Korean War, Vietnamese Conflict, and Gulf War veterans from Clay County to tell your stories. They are interested in sitting down one on one with veterans for personal interviews to capture your unique stories about your experiences serving in the military at any point in the last 75 years. Your service is honored and they want to preserve its details as an important part of Clay County history.

They would also like to hear about how your service impacted the rest of your life. If you are a veteran or you know a veteran from Clay County and your story has never been recorded, please contact the Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County as soon as possible. They would like to write a grant to the Minnesota Historical Society to develop an oral history project, and need to know how many people are willing to share.

If you would like to tell your story, please contact HCSCC Archivist Mark Peihl at or call him at 218-299-5511 Ext. 6734, or drop him a note at HCSCC, PO Box 157, Moorhead, MN 56561-0157.

NDSU's Center for Nutrition and Pregnancy Recognized

North Dakota State University's Center for Nutrition and Pregnancy will receive special recognition at the Agriculture, Food, Nutrition and Natural Resources Research and Development Roundtable in Washington, D.C., March 15.

The roundtable, the first of its kind, is being held in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. Several
agricultural organizations and federal agencies organized the event to raise the awareness of agriculture, food and natural resources research and development and highlight the characteristics of highly productive collaborations to encourage future collaborative efforts.

The Center for Nutrition and Pregnancy (CNP) is a group of scientists and graduate students who are working to increase the number of healthy, productive livestock offspring by ensuring that animals have the optimal maternal environment and nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

The center's scientists and students are studying a variety of species to better understand pregnancy and nutrition issues, including the impacts of:

* Maternal nutritional intake prior to conception on the fertility of the dam

* Maternal nutritional intake during pregnancy on the growth and development of the fetus and placenta

* Specific nutrients, such as selenium and protein intake, on the growth and development of offspring

* Maternal stress on postnatal performance

* Maternal nutritional intake on the development of the mammary gland and milk production

* Maternal age and genotype on pre- and postnatal growth and development

The CNP was among 14 centers nationwide selected to present at the roundtable and one of six selected for special recognition. Kim Vonnahme and Joel Caton, the center's co-directors, and University Distinguished Professor Larry Reynolds, another member of the center's faculty, will attend the roundtable.

"The CNP helped my research program to achieve wide recognition, and under Drs. Vonnahme and Caton's leadership, the CNP has gained national and international prominence, which is why I nominated it for this well-deserved recognition," Reynolds says.

For more information about the center, visit cnp.

Mn/DOT deputy commissioner appointed to national traffic safety committee

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Bernie Arseneau, deputy commissioner and chief engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, has been selected by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to serve on its Standing Committee on Highway Traffic Safety.

Arseneau is one of six transportation officials from around the country joining SCOHTS, which recommends and supports highway safety programs aimed at reducing fatal and serious injury crashes on all highway systems throughout the United States.

“Bernie Arseneau brings an extensive background in safety leadership and innovation to the co mmittee at a time when many traffic safety partners across the nation are taking a multidisciplinary approach to reducing serious crashes,” said Tony Kane, AASHTO director of engineering and technical services and SCOHTS staff liaison.

Arseneau is the co-founder of Minnesota’s Toward Zero Deaths initiative, a multi-agency effort that strives to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes on Minnesota highways. He also has worked closely on several additional efforts to improve traffic safety in Minnesota, including his work with the Federal Highway Administration on developing Minnesota’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan. In addition, Arseneau championed efforts to create Mn/DOT’s Central Safety Fund, which allocates money to county roadway projects, cable median barrier installation and improved speed enforcement.

“I am excited about this opportunity to collaborate with a great group of national partners as we work to improve safety on our nation’s highway system,” Arseneau said.

The six new SCOHTS members will serve their term through October 2015. The committee was founded in 1976 and is currently chaired by Tom Sorel, Mn/DOT commissioner.

For more information on AASHTO’s Standing Committee on Highway Traffic Safety, visit

For more information about Mn/DOT, visit

Friday, March 4, 2011

Multi-state investigation links E. coli O157:H7 cases to eating in-shell hazelnuts

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) are working with counterparts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and federal agencies to investigate cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection associated with eating in-shell hazelnuts (also known as filberts) purchased from bulk bins at retail food stores. Three cases have been identified in Minnesota, three in Wisconsin, and one in Michigan.
In Minnesota, all three cases were male and over 50 years of age. Cases were residents of Hennepin, Redwood, and Stearns counties. Two were hospitalized. All have recovered.

Routine monitoring by the health departments in the respective states identified E. coli O157:H7 cases with the same DNA fingerprint. The individuals became ill between December 20, 2010, and January 28, 2011. All of the cases have reported eating in-shell hazelnuts from grocery stores. Of these, six purchased them from bulk bins at these stores and the other case reported purchasing similar product in a repacked form.

Four of the cases reported purchasing the hazelnuts as part of mixed nuts.
Agriculture agencies in the three states and the California Department of Public Health traced hazelnuts consumed by cases to a common distributor in California, DeFranco and Sons. This firm has recalled all hazelnut and mixed nut products distributed from November 2, 2010, to December 22, 2010. Recalled product was shipped to stores in Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

State and federal officials urge consumers not to eat any in-shell hazelnuts included in this recall. To identify whether hazelnuts that have been purchased are part of the recall, consumers in the states listed above are advised to go to the MDA website at to access a list of stores that sold bulk affected in-shell hazelnuts, either alone or as part of a mixed nut product. Also included in the recall are Sunripe Hazelnuts, Sunripe Large Hazelnuts in 1-pound packages, and Sunripe Mixed Nuts in 2-pound. and 4-pound packages, all with a “Sell-By” date of 6/30/2011. Recalled products would have been purchased after November 2, 2010. Consumers with recalled hazelnuts still in their possession should discard them or return them to the store from which they were purchased. Out-of-shell hazelnuts and products containing hazelnuts as an ingredient have not been linked to any illnesses and are not affected by the recall.

Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 illness typically include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but little or no fever. People typically become ill two to five days after eating contaminated food. Most people recover in five to 10 days. However, E. coli O157:H7 infections sometimes lead to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), characterized by kidney failure.

Those who develop such symptoms after consuming this product should contact their health care provider immediately. E. coli O157:H7 infections should not be treated with antibiotics, which might promote the development of HUS. More information on E. coli O157:H7 can be found at

Plug Drains to Keep Sewage Backup Out

Be prepared to plug your drains this spring to prevent sewer backup if you live in an area prone to flooding or heavy rain.

"Raw sewage not only can damage building components and carpeting; it also has high concentrations of pathogens that can pose serious health risks," says Carl Pedersen, North Dakota State University Extension Service energy educator.

Deciding if and when you should plug your drains depends on a variety of
factors. For example, you should follow local officials' recommendations on when to plug drains in the lower levels of your home. You also should plug your lower-level drains if you plan to evacuate because of the potential for flooding.

You may choose not to plug your drains if you have a newer home. Many new homes have anti-backflow or backwater check valves that should prevent sewage from backing up into the home. However, some of these valves have failed in flood situations, so you must decide if you want the added protection of plugging drains.

If you do not have a check valve, most hardware or home improvement stores carry a variety of plugs to fit different types of drains.

"But do not wait until flooding is imminent to attempt to obtain plugs because they may not be available, or you may have situations in your home where a standard plug won't work," Pedersen says.

Visit NDSU's flood website at for more information. Click on Plugging Home Drains to Prevent Sewage Backup for a video on how to plug sewer drains and a publication describing various plugs and how to use them.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mn/DOT seeks public input on Area Transportation Improvement Program Plan

BEMIDJI, Minn. – The public and other stakeholders are invited to provide input on the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Area Transportation Improvement Program Plan for construction projects from 2012-2015. The public comment period for the ATIP is March 5 – April 4.

The ATIP is a four-year program for state and federally funded transportation investments of significance for the northwestern region of Minnesota. Each draft ATIP includes a prioritized list of projects that help solve transportation problems and achieve long-range objectives for the area. The principal investment emphasis is on preservation, safety and operational improvements in the existing transportation system and seeks balanced decisions, which promote effective and efficient transportation.

The ATIP is the result of recommendations that come from the Area Transportation Partnership, which is comprised of members from cities, counties, townships, tribal governments, transit providers, metropolitan planning organizations, regional development commissions and Mn/DOT. The ATPs integrate state and local priorities within their areas and submit those projects for inclusion into the draft State Transportation Improvement Plan.

To view and provide comment on the ATIP, visit To request a hard copy of the plan, contact Joe McKinnon, Mn/DOT District 2 planning engineer, at 218-755-6554 or

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Better care for more Minnesotans starts today

St. Paul — Beginning today, March 1, more Minnesotans will be eligible for Medicaid under the state’s expansion. Those eligible can now apply for the program at county or tribal human service offices. Today also marks the date that eligible enrollees in two state-funded programs have shifted to Medical Assistance (MA), the state Medicaid program, and will receive more comprehensive care with lower copays.

The change is as a result of an executive order, signed by Governor Mark Dayton in January. As a result, thousands of Minnesotans will now have insurance coverage at a savings to the state, and 20,000 health care jobs will be saved or created.

System changes to receive new applications were completed Monday, said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, and current enrollees in General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) were automatically converted to MA late last week. MinnesotaCare enrollees eligible for Medicaid will have access to full benefits beginning today. Those cases will be manually converted to MA by state and county workers over the next six months.

“We are ready for the new program and on schedule with our implementation work,” said Jesson. “We have plans in place and appreciate the willingness of county and tribal agencies, and other stakeholders to work with us to quickly implement the expansion.”

Under the expansion, approximately 83,000 people who would be eligible for GAMC and MinnesotaCare are projected to receive MA by 2012. An additional 12,000 people who would be uninsured are expected to enroll. All are adults without children who have incomes at or below 75 percent of the poverty level, about $677 a month or $8,124 a year for one person.

The Department of Human Services has been providing information about the process to clients, human service workers and other stakeholders. Notices to MinnesotaCare enrollees were mailed the week of Feb. 14. GAMC enrollees were mailed notices starting Feb. 24. They will also receive information about the end of GAMC as of Monday.

Minnesota received federal approval Feb. 17 for the MA expansion, an option under the federal Affordable Care Act. Additional information about the MA expansion is at

MDA planning gypsy moth suppression treatments for North Shore locations in 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. – With the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and partner organizations planning to tackle gypsy moth infestations in northeastern Minnesota this summer, the department is inviting people to learn about the effort at open houses to be held March 22-24 in St. Louis, Lake and Cook Counties.

Ranked among America’s most destructive tree pests, gypsy moth has caused millions of dollars in damage to forests as it has spread from New England to Wisconsin in recent decades. Gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate large sections of forest, with oak, poplar, birch and willow among their preferred hosts. The pests are common in Wisconsin and are now threatening eastern Minnesota. More information about gypsy moths and MDA’s battle against these forest pests can be found on the MDA website at

MDA maintains a monitoring program to watch for start-up infestations, and when an infestation is found, the department conducts suppression treatments to slow their spread. In 2010, MDA found infestations covering nearly 114,000 acres in St. Louis, Carlton, Cook and Lake Counties. The department is now developing treatment plans for the affected areas, including sites near Tofte, Fourmile Lake, Finland, Beaver Bay, Gooseberry Falls, Carrol Trail, Thompson Lake, Barrs Lake, Duluth and Proctor.

Over the years, MDA has successfully treated dozens of gypsy moth infestations across eastern Minnesota from Grand Portage to Winona County. These treatments slow the spread of gypsy moth, saving communities and homeowners money and protecting the health of the state’s forests. Unfortunately, the number and intensity of localized infestations continues to rise as the main population of gypsy moths moves closer to the state.

MDA and local officials are working together to develop plans for treating the northeastern Minnesota infestations this summer. The department will host seven open houses to share information with citizens about the threat gypsy moths pose to the environment, and how officials plan to protect forests.

Date Location Time
March 22 Proctor Community Center, 100 Pionk Drive, Proctor 4-6 pm
March 22 Portman Community Center, 4601 McCulloch St., Duluth 6-8 pm
March 23 Central Hillside Community Center, 12 E. 4th St., Duluth 11am-1pm
March 23 Boulder Lake Learning Center, 7328 Boulder Dam Rd., Duluth 5-7 pm
March 24 Gooseberry Falls State Park Visitor Center, 3206 Hwy 61, Two Harbors 11am-1pm
March 24 Central Hillside Community Center, 12 E. 4th St., Duluth 4-6pm
March 24 Morgan Park Community Center, 1302 88th Ave. W., Duluth 5-7pm

Give Kids the World pancake fundraiser

Give Kids The World (GKTW) is a non-profit organization that provides week-long vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families at a fanciful, “storybook” retreat in Central Florida. Since 1986, GKTW has served more than 100,000 families from all 50 states and 70 countries. Families enjoy a week-long, cost-free vacation that includes accommodations at the Give Kids The World Village, meals, donated attraction tickets (including Disney World), and more.

On Monday, March 21, more than 420 participating Perkins restaurants across the country will be offering guests their legendary, made-from-scratch buttermilk pancakes – for free – during PERKINS PANCAKE DAY. In return, Perkins simply requests that guests consider making a donation of any amount to benefit GKTW.

Each year, Perkins Restaurant & Bakery serves more than 200,000 free meals at the 200-seat Gingerbread House Restaurant, located in the heart of the Give Kids The World Village. Over the years, more than 4 million free meals have been served. In addition to annual fundraising efforts, ongoing activities for Give Kids The World include community-oriented events and specially marked coin boxes for spare change in the lobbies of most Perkins restaurants.