Thursday, December 29, 2011

Commerce Dept. takes action against loan mod company for alleged illegal fees, other violations

ST. PAUL, MN – With reports this week that more than 14 million American homeowners are in foreclosure or delinquent on their mortgage payments, Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman advised struggling Minnesota homeowners to use caution as they pursue modifications to their home loans. The Minnesota Department of Commerce took action this week against a loan modification company that allegedly charged its customers illegal advance fees, altered documents, and operated in Minnesota without appropriate licensure.

“If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it probably is,” said Commissioner Rothman. “Time and time again we see vulnerable homeowners turn over their last dollar in hopes that their homes might be saved.”

But thanks to a consent order signed by Commissioner Rothman this week, 36 consumers – who were allegedly charged, on average, more than $2,000 in illegal advance fees by Mortgage Connection, Inc. of Bloomington – will get their money back within the next 30 days. It is a success story made possible by the diligent efforts of the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Enforcement Division.

“We work hard every day to help ensure a fair and competitive marketplace, and to protect Minnesota consumers from wrongdoing,” said Rothman. “When consumers have been defrauded, we investigate those complaints and take appropriate actions to stop and remedy the misconduct.”

Minnesota resident Yasmine Ruiz Castillo is one of the 36 consumers who will receive a full refund from Mortgage Connection, Inc. She and her husband Javier paid the company more than $2,000 in up-front fees in hopes of saving their home from foreclosure. But their loan was never modified. Instead, the Castillos fell farther behind in their mortgage payments. In just a few months, they will lose their home to foreclosure.

“Unfortunately, what happened to Yasmine and Javier is not unique,” said Commissioner Rothman. “In far too many cases, consumers are promised help in modifying their loan, and persuaded into paying up-front fees – but many times they never see that money again. Instead, financially-strapped consumers fall farther behind on their mortgage payments, and fall deeper into debt and financial distress.”

In the case of Mortgage Connection, Inc., Enforcement Division investigators found sufficient evidence to allege that the company:

• Collected advance fees, in violation of MS 58.16

• Altered documents with white out prior to submitting them to lenders, in violation of MS 58.12

• Failed to have and maintain, at all times, a surety bond, in violation of MS 58.06, MS 58.12, and MS 58.08

• Failed to notify the Commissioner of any change in its surety bond within ten days, in violation of MS 58.06, MS 58.12, and MS 58.08

Based on these allegations, the Commerce Department has ordered that:

• Mortgage Connection, Inc.’s license has been revoked

• The company’s owner Augustus Odoom is hereby barred from residential mortgage origination and mortgage servicing in the State of Minnesota

• Mortgage Connection, Inc. shall pay a civil penalty of $40,000 – which is stayed based on compliance with:

o Within 30 days, returning all advance fees to its customers who did not receive a loan modification

o Within 45 days, providing the Department a report detailing which customers qualified for a refund, the amount each customer was refunded and when

o Informing customers that the company is no longer in the business of modifying loans

In light of these charges, and actions taken against a number of other loan modification companies in recent months, Commissioner Rothman encourages Minnesota consumers to take precautions. For people who are having trouble making their mortgage payments, here are some helpful tips and guidelines to follow:

• First, contact your mortgage company to try and work out a loan modification

• Contact the Minnesota Homeownership Center for free loan modification assistance

• Beware of anyone charging up-front fees; NEVER pay advance fees to loan modification companies

• Contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Protection Line to check on the license status or enforcement history of the loan modification organization you are working with

• If you feel you might be the victim of a loan modification scam, contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Protection Line to file a complaint and work with an investigator

The Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Protection Line can be reached by email at or by phone at (651) 296-2488 or (800) 657-3602 in Greater Minnesota.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Otter Tail Power Company suggests taking down the lights after the holidays

Fergus Falls, MN – Taking down your decorative lights after the holidays and storing them until next season will reduce wear and tear on the electrical decorations. And by not lighting up the night until spring you’ll save energy and money. Here are some safety suggestions.

Discard decorations with worn or frayed electrical cords, broken or cracked sockets, damaged plugs, or loose connections.

To reduce the chance of electrical shock, use a fiberglass ladder when taking down holiday lights and be sure to stay clear of overhead electrical wires.

Never yank, kink, or bend electrical cords. This may crack the insulation around the wiring, which could lead to shock or electrical fire.

Take advantage of after-holiday sales to stock up on LED holiday lights. LED lights are safer, more resistant to shock and vibration, use less electricity, allow more strings to be connected together, and can last 50 times longer than incandescent lights.

But beware of bargains that seem too good to be true

Products may be cheap because they are counterfeit or defective. Take steps to protect your family from the dangers of counterfeit holiday decorations.

Avoid no-name electrical products or products sold at deep discount stores. Only purchase electrical products from a reputable distributor or retailer.

Check to see if the packaging contains contact information for the manufacturer. Reputable companies are proud of their products and will provide phone numbers and addresses.

Examine the warning label. It should be free of grammatical errors and not conflict with information elsewhere on the package.

Look for the Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or Intertek (ETL-SEMKO) certification marks. If you have concerns about the marks, contact the certifier.

“Electricity is a powerful tool and certainly helps brighten the holidays,” says Eric Hamm, Otter Tail Power Company Safety Services Manager. “It also can be a lethal hazard. But good safety standards and safety habits will help ensure that you’ll be able to put up those lights again next year.”

Otter Tail Power Company, a subsidiary of Otter Tail Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select Market: OTTR), is headquartered in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It provides electricity and energy services to more than a quarter million people in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. To learn more about Otter Tail Power Company visit To learn more about Otter Tail Corporation visit

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nordic Arts Alliance to do face casting demonstrations at Hjemkomst

Moorhead, Minn., Dec. 27, 2011 – The Nordic Arts Alliance presents Ordinary Vikings, a collection of 30 “bog stav” sculptures hanging as mobiles. Swedish-American artist Jill Marie Johnson creates sculptures based on the Nordic cultural stories from the Bronze, Iron, and Viking age. Each sculpture features a beeswax casting of the face with a Swedish Minnesotan joined to a tree body. The project explores how each person’s real-life story parallels a Nordic cultural story. The exhibit is on display through Jan. 18th, 2012.

On Wednesday, December 28, 1 and 3 p.m., at the Hjemkomst Center, artist Jill Johnson will do face casting demonstrations; including wax mask moldings.

In addition, a Saga Workshop and Reading is scheduled for Saturday, January 7, 2 p.m. at the Hjemkomst Center museum. Hear original Viking sagas from the Icelandic ages. Guests will learn to write their own saga using experiences from their own life and will share their sagas together. You do NOT need to be a writer to have fun at this event. The event is open to all ages, including kids.

For more information, please call 218-299-5511, or visit us online at or The Hjemkomst Center is located at 202 First Avenue North in Moorhead, Minn.

Friday, December 23, 2011


(December 23, 2011) – Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota Adoption: Join us to learn about exciting opportunities and changes in adoption. Discover the tools and support for families who would like a flexible, proactive adoption process, and learn how LSS can partner with you to grow your family.

LSS can help families adopt children locally and from countries around the world.

The adoption information meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 10, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Clay County Service Center, located at 715 North 11th Street in Moorhead.

Call Lynne Haggar at (612) 879-5230 or 1-888-205-3769 to register. For more information, or to register online, visit

Summer Reading Program Theme Teen Video Challenge -Entries due February 1, 2012

The Lake Agassiz Regional Library (LARL) Youth Services Department wants to make sure all area teens are aware of the Teen Video Challenge, a new project offered through the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP). CSLP is the organization responsible for the Summer Reading Program LARL offers each year.

The Teen Video Challenge is asking Minnesota teens to create a video promoting the 2012 Teen Summer Reading theme, "Own the Night."

Teens could win $275 and an award for their local LARL location. Each state will have a winner, and the videos will be shared with libraries across the country.

The teen pages link to the Teen Video Challenge entry form - This form contains the rules and entry information.

According to the entry form, videos must be submitted by February 1, 2012.

Good luck and get creative with your video entries!

LARL serves the residents of Becker, Clay, Clearwater, Mahnomen, Norman, Polk and Wilkin counties, with branch libraries in Ada, Bagley, Barnesville, Breckenridge, Climax, Crookston, Detroit Lakes, Fertile, Fosston, Hawley, Mahnomen, McIntosh and Moorhead and LINK sites in Cormorant, Frazee, Gonvick, Halstad, Hendrum, Lake Park, Rothsay, Shelly, Twin Valley and Ulen.

More information about LARL services and programs at

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Hours for Hjemkomst

Moorhead, Minn., Dec. 19, 2011 – The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County at the Hjemkomst Center museum will be closed December 24, 25, 31, and January 1.

Regular museum hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m. Museum admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and college students, $5 for youth (5 – 17), and free for HCSCC members and children (4 and under).

For more information, please call 218-299-5511, or visit us online at or The Hjemkomst Center is located at 202 First Avenue North in Moorhead, Minn.

More Minnesotans to receive energy assistance with additional LIHEAP funding

ST. PAUL, MN – Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman today announced the state will receive an additional $14.1 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP).

“This is welcome news Minnesota families as we head into the Holiday weekend,” said Commissioner Rothman. These funds came through at a crucial time for thousands of seniors, disabled Minnesotans, and low-income families with children who are struggling to pay their heating bills this winter.”

The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources (DER) reported it would serve approximately 128,000 households with an initial $73.5 million in funding provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). DER has already received more than 140,000 applications from households requesting assistance this winter, with funding running out this month. The additional $14.1 million released to Minnesota today may help serve approximately 19,000 additional Minnesota households this winter.

“The average household income of families enrolled in this program is around $16,000 per year,” said Rothman. “For many low-income families, Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program is a financial lifeline through these cold winter months. And in this economy, the need is greater than ever.”

EAP applications have increased 2.2 percent this year compared to the same time last year, and have increased 9 percent compared to the same time two years ago. The program helps low-income households pay their heating bills through grant money paid directly to the utility company on behalf of the customer. DER allocates these funds to 36 local service providers who work with households to distribute the funds.

Last year, Minnesota served 172,065 households with $152 million in federal funds. This year the average grant per household is about $400. Customers with 50 percent or less of the state median income ($43,050 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.

A list of local service providers and more information about the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program can be found at by clicking on “Finding Financial Assistance” or by calling 651-296-5175 or toll free in Minnesota 1-800-657-3710.

New traffic signals at Highway 71, Highway 2 ramp in Bemidji

BEMIDJI, Minn. — Motorists will use the new traffic signals at Highway 71 and the Highway 2 bypass ramp on the south end of Bemidji as early as Friday afternoon, Dec. 23.

Motorists will encounter a temporary four-way stop at the intersection and the southbound Highway 71 right lane will close Friday morning, Dec. 23, while crews complete the signal installation. The temporary four-way stop and lane closure will be removed when the new signal systems are operational.

The signals are part of the Highway 197/71 expansion and the new northbound Highway 71 bridge over the Highway 2 bypass.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation urges motorists to always drive with caution, slow down and stay alert in areas where traffic patterns have changed.

For statewide travel information, visit or call 5-1-1.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

MN Historical Society Announces Dec Recipients Of Grants

ST. PAUL (Dec. 20, 2011) Just in time for the New Year, the Minnesota Historical Society awarded history and historic preservation grants to dozens of organizations across the state. The Minnesota Historical Society today announced 46 recipients of 48 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants of up to $7,000.

The Society also announced the next deadlines for Small and Structured Grants are January 13, 2012, and February 17, 2012. The Grants Manual is available at with all applications being accepted only through the SocietyĆ¢€™s new grants portal at
Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants are made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund with passage of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment by the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008. The amendment supports efforts to preserve Minnesota land, water and legacy, including state history and cultural heritage.

“These latest grants will continue to prepare Minnesota for the bright future of history made possible by these funds. It’s clear that Minnesotans are making thoughtful use of these funds to preserve and make accessible history now and for future generations,” said David Grabitske, manager of outreach services for the Minnesota Historical Society. “The work of history is very people-focused, and people often are most concerned with tomorrow. This cycle is all about how people will use history tomorrow, whether through online access, better use of historic places, or major anniversaries in 2012.”

Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant Recipients: Small and Structured Grants

Each Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant project will preserve and enhance Minnesota’s cultural and historical resources. The grants are awarded according to professional standards and criteria. The latest round of recipients of Small and Structured Grants of up to $7,000 are:
•Becker County, White Earth Reservation Tribal Council, Numa-Ogimaa giigonh, Sturgeon-King of Fish, $3,189.
•Beltrami County, Beltrami County History Center, Rehousing of Photographs and Maps, Manuscript Box Labeling, $4, 978.
•Blue Earth County, Blue Earth County Historical Society, Discover the Dakota Culture and Heritage, $7,000.
•Blue Earth County, Minnesota State University, Mankato - Library Services, Reporter Digitization Project Ć¢€“ Minnesota State University, Mankato, $7,000.
•Brown County, Brown County Historical Society, Restoration of Third Floor, $6,350.
•Clay County, Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, New Hjemkomst Exhibit, $6,000.
•Dakota County, City of Inver Grove Heights, Heritage Village Park Interpretive Planning Project, $6,990.
•Dakota County, Dakota County Historical Society, 2.0, $6,900.
•Fillmore County, Lanesboro Arts Center, Fixing the Failing Facade, $6,075.
•Freeborn County, Freeborn County, Historical Marker, $2,830.
•Freeborn County, Freeborn County Historical Society, Microfilm Acquisition, $4,409.
•Grant County, Condition Report and Treatment Proposal for the Grant County Courthouse, $6,950.
•Hennepin County, Cedar Lake Park Preservation and Development Association dba Cedar Lake Park Association, Cedar Lake Park Association History Project, $7,000.
•Hennepin County, The Bakken Museum, Dakota Medicinal Plans Garden Phase 2, $7,000.
•Hennepin County, City of Brooklyn Park, Eidem Homestead Traveling Trunk, $7,000.
•Hennepin County, Hennepin History Museum, From Exile to Resettlement: Voices of the Bhutanese in Minnesota, $7,000.
•Hennepin County, Hennepin Medical History Center website, $4,000.
•Hennepin County, Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, Jewish Mnopedia, $6,660.
•Hennepin County, Lake Street Council, Museum in the Streets: Lake Street, $7,000.
•Hennepin County, The Performance Lab, Videotaping Dance Community - Oral Histories, $6,650.
•Hennepin County, Seward Neighborhood Group, A History of the Seward Neighborhood, $6,850.
•Hennepin County, Twin Cities Daily Planet, History of Minnesota Theaters 1959-1981, $5,625.
•Hennepin County, University of Minnesota Foundation (University of Minnesota Press), Minnesota Railroads: A Photographic History, 1940-2012, $7,000.
•Houston County, Jefferson Township, History of the Winnebago Valley, $2,000.
•Itasca County, City of Bigfork, Bigfork City Hall Preservation Planning, $7,000.
•Isanti County, Isanti County Historical Society, Detailed Processing of Fire Salvaged Archives, $6,570.
•Jackson County, Regents of the University of Minnesota (Institute for Advanced Study), Oral Histories of Small-scale Food Initiatives in Southwest Minnesota, $6,900.
•Mille Lacs County, City of Onamia, Wiping out Water in the Basement (of Onamia City Hall, listed in the National Register of Historic Places), $6,300.
•Mower County, Mower County Historical Society, K-8 Educational Curriculum Needs Assessment, $5,620.
•Mower County, Mower County Historical Society, Ghost Towns of Mower County Exhibit, $7,000.
•Nicollet County, Nicollet County Historical Society, Commemorating Controversy Lecture Series, $4,000.
•Nicollet County, Nicollet County Historical Society, Acquire an ImageData Microfilm Scanner, $6,999.
•Olmsted County, City of Rochester, Rochester Resource Discovery Plan, $6,280.
•Pipestone County, Pipestone County Historical Society, If Walls Could Talk Walking Tour, $4,376.
•Ramsey County, 1006 Summit Avenue Society, Governor’s Residence Interpretive Plan, $7,000.
•Ramsey County, Maplewood Area Historical Society, Research of Maplewood History Book, $6,745.
•Ramsey County, Minnesota Veterinary Historical Museum, Corridor Exhibit Wall Panels, $3,105.
•Ramsey County, Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State (Civil War Commemoration Task Force), Minnesota Civil War Commemorative Task Force Website, $7,000.
•Ramsey County, Saint Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, What is an Advocate? An Oral History Project, $7,000.
•Redwood County, Redwood Falls Public Library, Microfilm Grant Phase 3, $6,960.
•Renville County, Renville County Historical Society, Bookshelf Request, $1,019.
•Saint Louis County, North Star Foundation of the Mesaba Range Incorporated, The Oral History of Mesaba Co-op Park, $4,700.
•Saint Louis County, St. Louis County Historical Society, Architectural Design Services for Lake Superior Ojibwe Gallery & Adjacent Storage, $7,000.
•Stearns County, Ce Tempoxcalli, Born of Hunger - Research, $7,000.
•Stearns County, Saint John’s Abbey & University, General Preservation Needs Assessment at SJU, $6,046.
•Wabasha County, Wabasha County Historical Society, Reads Landing Schoolhouse Fire Safety and Mitigation Project, $4,920.
•Winona County, Winona State University, General Conservation Assessment and Long Range Preservation Plan, $6,186.
•Wright County, Cokato Historical Society, Akerlund Studio Glass Plate Negative Scanning, Phase IV, $7,000.

EMT/First Responder Info Class to be held January 9th

Tuesday, December 20, 2011, Ada, MN – Norman County Emergency Medical Services will be holding an informational meeting for those interested in becoming either an EMT or a First Responder on Monday, January 9th, at 6:30 pm in the Conference Room at Essentia Health Ada. The informational meeting is free and open to the public.

Classes will commence with an American Heart Association CPR for Healthcare Providers class at 6:00 pm on Thursday, January 12, for both groups.

The EMT classes will be from 6:00 to 9:00 pm Mondays and Thursdays beginning January 16th.

The First Responder classes will be from 6:00 to 9:00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning January 17th.

Students for the EMT class must be 18 or older by the end of the class, tentatively scheduled for early March. The minimum age for the first responder class is 16 and parental permission is required for participation by minors.

For more information, please contact David Halls, Norman County EMS, at (218) 784-5239.

MnDOT activates new traffic signal at Highway 10/Highway 9 intersection

DETROIT LAKES, Minn.—Crews finished installing the new signal at the Highway 10 and Highway 9 intersection east of Glyndon today. The new signal was activated at approximately 12 p.m.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation urges motorists to always drive with caution, slow down in work zones and never enter a road blocked with barriers or cones. For statewide travel information, visit, call 5-1-1 or log on to

Monday, December 19, 2011

New winter hours set for the Hjemkomst Center museum and Senior Connections

Moorhead, Minn., Dec. 19, 2011 – The Hjemkomst Center, including Senior Connections and the museum, will be closed on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. until March 20, 2012 when regular hours will resume.

Regular museum hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m. Museum admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and college students, $5 for youth (5 – 17), and free for HCSCC members and children (4 and under).

NDSU Offers Updated Crop Compare Program

The North Dakota State University Extension Services has updated the Crop
Compare program, which is a spreadsheet designed to compare cropping

The program uses the direct costs and yields from the 2012 projected crop
budgets for nine regions of North Dakota, but producers are encouraged to enter the expected yields and input costs for their farm.

The user designates a reference crop and enters its expected market price.
Depending on the region, a broad selection of nine to 18 crops are compared. The program provides the prices for competing crops that would be necessary to provide the same return over variable costs as the reference crop.

"Producers can compare these 'break-even' prices to expected market prices to see which crop is most likely to compete with the reference crop," says Andy Swenson, NDSU Extension Service farm management specialist. "Input costs and grain prices can move quickly. The program provides a tool for producers to check the changing scenarios until final planting decisions are made this spring."

It should be noted that an underlying assumption is that fixed costs, such as machinery ownership, land, and the owner's labor and management, do not vary among crop choices and therefore do not need to be included in the analysis.

"In practice, there may be differences in fixed costs that should be
considered," Swenson says. "For example, there may be additional labor,
management and risk associated with a competing crop. If all the labor and
management is provided by the owner-operator, it would be considered a fixed cost and could be excluded. However, the producer should add some cost if he or she would only want to produce the crop when an adequate reward would be received for the extra time and management required relative to the reference crop."

A similar rationale could be used if a competing crop is considered higher risk.

The Crop Compare program is available on the Web at

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MnDOT reminds property owners of reflector requirements along highways

DETROIT LAKES, Minn.— Property owners along state highways are reminded to use only blue or clear reflectors when marking driveway entrances and other objects on highway rights of way, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

People installing reflectors on the highway right of way need to follow these guidelines:

• Reflectors posted near mailboxes and driveways should be blue or clear in color and at least three inches wide.
• Reflectors should be double-sided and positioned so they can be seen from both directions.
• Driveway reflectors should be posted at least 12 feet from the outside edge of the shoulder and no more than five feet above the ground to reduce the chances of being covered by snow when the road is plowed.
• Reflectors should never be placed on mailboxes or permanent posts, including red and orange colored reflectors and any type of reflective tape. Motorists may confuse reflectors with vehicle lights.

NWF in Top Philanthropic Tier Nationally

Bemidji, MN – Northwest Minnesota Foundation recently received notification that it has met the nation’s highest philanthropic standards for operational quality, integrity and accountability. The notice comes from the Community Foundations National Standards Board, a national accreditation organization based in Arlington, Va.

“This is similar to the Good Housekeeping Seal for community foundations,” said Diane Miller, Manager, Community Foundations National Standards Board. “It says that Northwest Minnesota Foundation has demonstrated a commitment to operational quality, integrity and accountability.”

The National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations program requires community foundations to document their policies for donor services, investments, grantmaking and administration. With over 200 community foundations already confirmed in compliance nationwide, the program is designed to provide quality assurance to donors, as well as to their legal and financial advisors.

“This is critically important to our donors,” said Nancy Vyskocil, Northwest Community Foundation president. “When people make a charitable bequest, establish a fund or set up an annuity, they are putting their trust in us. They are counting on us to manage the investment wisely, honor their charitable wishes and, in some cases, provide lifetime income to a loved one. The National Standards confirmation says our house is in order.”

Northwest Minnesota Foundation offers a range of charitable funds, allowing donors to advance a cause such as education or the environment, support an individual organization, provide flexible support for community needs or recommend individual grants. In addition to affirming the organization’s philanthropic services, the confirmation validates Northwest Minnesota Foundation’s grantmaking practices for the nonprofit community.

“Some say it’s easier to create wealth than to give money away wisely,” said Gary Purath, Northwest Minnesota Foundation board chair. “There’s some truth in that. Grantmaking is a lot like investing… we need to assess risks, weigh potential gains, diversify assets, monitor performance and operate fairly. When you see the National Standards Seal, you can be assured that we’re committed to meeting the highest standards for grantmaking as well.”

The National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations program is the first of its kind for charitable foundations in the United States.

MnDOT warns against vandalizing state property along highways

DETROIT LAKES, Minn.— The Minnesota Department of Transportation warns that vandalizing signs or other state property in the highway right of way is illegal and may result in a fine up to $3,000 and up to one year in jail per incident.

Some common examples of vandalism seen on state highway signs and property in west central Minnesota include:

• Stolen signs
• Graffiti
• Holes or dents from firearms and other objects
• Unauthorized reflective tape applied to signs and posts
• Unauthorized objects fastened to signs and posts

MnDOT reminds the public that acts of vandalism in the highway right of way directly impact motorists and affect traffic safety.

Motorists who would like to report vandalized signs or posts along the state highways in west central Minnesota can call MnDOT District 4 at 800-657-3984.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Precision Agriculture Summit Set for Jamestown Jan. 16-17

The Red River Valley Research Corridor has scheduled a Precision Agriculture Summit at the Farmers Union Conference Center in Jamestown on Jan. 16-17, 2012.

The summit is intended to be an opportunity for sharing precision agriculture research, technology and needs among farmers, industry, consultants and university personnel. The agenda features presentations on the economics of precision agriculture, GPS and wireless communication applications, sprayer and planting equipment, mapping, and in-field and remote sensing technologies.

The agenda and other information for the summit are at

Terry Griffin, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture associate professor of economics, will discuss the effects of economics on farmer adoption of precision agriculture. He specializes in production economics and row-crop farm management.

Lowell Catlett, New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences dean, chief administrative officer and professor, is an internationally known futurist who will speak about technologies and implications on the way we will live and work in the future. Catlett talks to corporate and association audiences internationally. He will offer his thoughts on trends in agriculture and the environment.

Col. Stephen Lynch, Department of Defense at the Pentagon, will speak about food security and its implications on agriculture. He will discuss the interactions of food, energy, water, global climate change and world economics with political systems on current and future food supplies. Lynch also will discuss how precision agricultural technologies can impact food security issues.

Scott Shearer, Ohio State University Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering chair, will moderate a panel discussing the equipment available for precision spraying and planting. Shearer's research includes controller area network applications for seeding equipment control systems, evaluating the accuracy of yield-monitoring technologies, developing enhanced sensing techniques to improve the accuracy and quality of yield-monitoring data, and assessing and quantifying machinery limitations on variable-rate applications.

John Pointon, director of sales and marketing with OmniSTAR Inc. of Houston, Texas, will present information on the condition and health of the GPS. In addition to sharing GPS differential correction services available from OmniSTAR, Pointon will discuss the issues surrounding the potential impacts of proposed high-speed wireless Internet on GPS signal reception.

Lanny Faleide, president and CEO of Satshot in Fargo, will talk about future mobile developments in precision, geospatial and remote-sensing technologies. Satshot focuses on satellite imagery and data analysis for agribusinesses and the crop insurance industry. He also will present details about Satshot's mobile application for use with the iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones.

John Nowatzki, North Dakota State University Extension Service agricultural machine systems specialist, will summarize current in-field crop sensing equipment and its uses for fertilizer applications. Nowatzki will compare the capabilities of available commercial crop sensors and discuss how this technology can be used to manage fertilizer applications during the growing season.

Several industry representatives are on the summit agenda to describe a variety of precision agriculture technologies. A panel of industry representatives will share information about current and developing telematics technologies. Telematics is the real-time transfer of data between mobile farm vehicles and farm-control centers. Telematics also is used to communicate information between mobile farm vehicles and equipment manufacturer technicians.

The data is communicated by cellular and other wireless radio signal networks. Telematics is used to transfer variable-rate and as-applied maps, weather data, precise locations and areas covered.

Another industry panel will discuss the challenges and obstacles to mapping applications critical to precision agriculture. Farmers and other agricultural businesses use geographic information system (GIS) computer programs to manage the GPS-generated digital data acquired during field operations. The system was developed by agribusinesses for efficient crop production management. GIS programs are used to manage, manipulate and evaluate remote sensing, soil variability, in-field sensors and yield-monitor data. All of this data is used in GIS programs to facilitate variable-rate applications of crop input products.

The conference is sponsored by the Red River Valley Research Corridor, North Dakota Farmers Union, Lake Region State College's Dakota Precision Ag Center and NDSU's Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

Red Cross Offers Tips For Twelve Days of Holiday Safety

Tuesday, DECEMBER 13, 2011 — Having a busy time getting ready for the holidays? While everyone is shopping, baking, gift wrapping, decorating and going to parties, the American Red Cross, North Central Region has holiday tips to help make the season a safe one.

1. Prepare vehicle for traveling to grandmother’s house. Build an emergency kit and include items such as blankets or sleeping bags, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, compass and road maps, shovel, tire repair kit and pump, extra clothing, flares, and a tow rope.

2. Drive the sleigh and reindeer safely. Avoid driving in a storm. If travel is a must, let someone know the destination, the route being taken to get there, and how long it should take to arrive. If the car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along the predetermined route.

3. Help prevent the spread of the flu. Stay home if sick. Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible, or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, someone should cough or sneeze into their elbow, not their hands.

4. Follow Santa’s fashion lead – dress in layers. When it’s cold outside, layered lightweight clothing will keep a person warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves and a hat will prevent loss of body heat.

5. Use a Red Cross-trained babysitter when attending holiday festivities. Red Cross-certified babysitters learn to administer basic first aid; properly hold and feed a child; take emergency action when needed and monitor safe play. Some may be certified in Infant and Child CPR.

6. Avoid danger while roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If leaving the kitchen even for a short period of time, turn off the stove. This is important because unattended cooking causes nearly 90 percent of all kitchen fires.

7. Be a lifesaver during the holidays. The Red Cross recommends at least one person in every household should take first aid and CPR/AED training. Visit for details and to register.

8. Designate a driver or skip the holiday cheer. Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired. If someone plans on drinking, designate a driver who won’t drink.

9. When the weather outside is frightful, heat the home safely. Never use a stove or oven to heat the home. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Install smoke alarms.

10. Cut down on heating bills without being a Grinch. Get the furnace cleaned and change the filters. Make sure furniture isn’t blocking the heat vents. Close off any rooms not in use and turn off the heat in those rooms. Turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater.

11. Home for the holidays? Travel safely. Check the tire air pressure and make sure the windshield fluid is full. Be well rested and alert. Give full attention to the road – avoid distractions such as cell phones. If someone has car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

12. Resolve to Be Red Cross Ready in the New Year. Get ready now in case someone in the household faces an emergency in 2012.

Monday, December 12, 2011

NDSU Feedlot School Set for Jan 24-25

North Dakota State University's Carrington Research Extension Center will hold its annual NDSU Feedlot School on Jan. 24-25, 2012.

This intensive course is for cattle producers, feeders, backgrounders, feed industry personnel, animal health-care suppliers and anyone else who is
interested in learning more about feedlot production, nutrition, waste management and marketing.

"There are new markets for fat cattle much closer to our North Dakota feedlots, which will lower transportation costs," says Vern Anderson, animal scientist at the center. "This, coupled with increased demand for USDA Choice beef by the world market, provides opportunity for feeding our exceptionally high-quality cattle right here in North Dakota."

Feedlot School topics will include future opportunities for feeding cattle; animal nutritional requirements; feed additives and implant strategies; feed
processing/mixing and nutrient optimization; ration formulation and break-even calculation; feeds and feed testing; facility management; diseases, treatments and health programs; feed delivery; bunk reading; waste and nutrient management; carcass quality and marketing on the grid; using market information for strategic planning; risk management with pricing opportunities; budgeting; custom feeding; and business management. The school also will include tours of a commercial feedlot and the CREC livestock facilities.

Instructors include faculty from NDSU's Animal Sciences Department and the Carrington and North Central Research Extension Centers, as well as others who have extensive experience working with northern Plains feedlots.

The registration fee is $100 per person or $150 for two people from the same operation. A three-ring feedlot school binder is included with the registration. The deadline to register is Jan. 17. The fee does not include lodging.

Participants must make their own lodging arrangements. Lodging is available at the Chieftain Conference Center, (701) 652-3131, or the Carrington Inn and Suites, (701) 652-3982.

For more information about the course or to register, contact Foster County Extension agent Joel Lemer at (701) 652-2581 or

The Carrington Research Extension Center is 3.5 miles north of Carrington on U.S. Highway 281.

Farm/Ranch Transition Planning Classes Set

Do you want to design an orderly and successful transition plan for your farm/ranch business? Are you uncertain about how to choose the successor or successors best suited to continue your business into the future? Are you concerned about the financial impacts and tax consequences of your transition plan? What are the best tools/strategies available to create this plan?

These are just a few of the questions that will be answered at the farm/ranch transition planning workshop series the North Dakota State University Extension Service is hosting Feb. 9, 16, and 23, 2012. The sessions will run from 6:15 to 9:30 p.m. CST and 5:15 to 8:30 p.m. MST at the following locations across the state:

* Ashley High School, 703 Main St. W., Ashley

* Beulah High School, 204 5th St. N.W., Beulah

* Bottineau County District Court room, second floor, Bottineau County Courthouse, 314 5th St. W., Bottineau

* Towner County Extension office, 404 5th Ave., Suite 1, Cando

* Carrington Research Extension Center, 663 Highway 281 N.E., Carrington

* Griggs County Extension office, Griggs County Courthouse, 808 Rollins Ave. S.W., Cooperstown

* Armory meeting room, 417 5th St. N.E., Devils Lake

* Grand Forks County Extension office, County Office Building, 151 4th St. S., Suite 302, Grand Forks

* North Central Research Extension Center, 5400 Highway 83 S., Minot

* Mountrail County Extension office, Memorial Building, 18 2nd Ave. S.W., Stanley

* Barnes County Public Health DES room, Barnes County Courthouse, 230 4th St. N.W., Valley City

* Richland County Commission room, Richland County Courthouse, 418 2nd Ave. N., Wahpeton

"Due to the fact that farmers and ranchers have some very unique transition issues, these sessions are geared to their specific needs," says Willie Huot, Grand Forks County Extension agent and state coordinator for the farm and ranch transition planning program. "The major increase in asset values, especially land, in the last several years has made this topic even more critical of late."

The sessions will have a combination of presentations via the North Dakota Interactive Video Network and local experts at each location. Attending all three sessions is very important.

Topics for the first session are why you should plan your estate, who should be involved, what materials you'll need and the importance of communication among family members. The IVN presenter will be Gary Goreham, professor of rural sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at NDSU.

Session 2 will cover farm business arrangements, including the pros and cons of different types of business organizations for farmers and ranchers in North Dakota.

Session 3 will address farm succession planning, and tax and economic consequences of asset transfer strategies. The IVN presenter for both sessions 2 and 3 will be Andy Zenk, agribusiness consultant, AgCountry/Farm Credit Services, Grand Forks

The early bird registration fee is $55 for individuals and $15 each for spouses or business associates (up to two additional) if postmarked by Feb. 2, 2012. After that date, individual registrations will increase to $75. Registration fees include materials and refreshments.

For registration information, contact the Extension agent at the site you wish to attend. Registration forms, as well as online registration, also are available at Click on Farm/Ranch Transition Planning, then the Transition Planning Registration Form at the bottom of the page. Anyone interested in attending the workshop should register as soon as possible because seating is limited at most of the sites.

For more information about the workshop, contact the county Extension office for the site you wish to attend or Huot at (701) 780-8229 or

Friday, December 9, 2011

MnDOT asks for input on Mississippi River Trail bikeway’s future operation

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The public and local officials are invited to participate in a meeting to discuss how the Mississippi River Trail bikeway should be managed in the future. The trail travels through nearly 100 communities between Lake Itasca and the Iowa border.

Nearly 70 cities, counties and agencies manage a portion of the MRT in Minnesota.

“The challenge is finding a way to effectively operate this multi-agency initiative,” said Dan Collins, MRT planner with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. “One step forward is a comprehensive system of MRT signs. The goal of these meetings is find out if and how involved agencies will take on this and other operational challenges.”

Currently, trail routes may be accessed online or on printed maps, but the trail does not have consistent on-road route signage.

All meetings take place 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the following locations and dates:

Roseville – Monday, Dec. 12
MnDOT – Waters Edge
1500 W. County Road B-2

Bemidji – Tuesday, Dec. 13
Bemidji City Hall – Council Chambers
317 Fourth St. NW

St. Cloud – Thursday, Dec. 15
St. Cloud Public Library, Bremer Room
1300 W. Saint Germain St.

Winona – Monday, Dec. 19
Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, Tandeski Center
1200 Storr’s Pond Road

The MRT is a bikeway that follows the Mississippi River from its headwaters in Itasca State Park to the Gulf of Mexico. The majority of the MRT is routed on relatively low-use roads and road shoulders, and it connects several off-road trails throughout Minnesota. For more information, visit

MDH awards SHIP grants

In a nation-leading effort to reduce chronic disease, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has awarded 18 grants to Minnesota communities to help lower the number of Minnesotans who use tobacco or who are obese or overweight.

The Statewide Health Improvement Program, also known as SHIP, will cover 51 counties, four cities and one tribal government over the next 18 months. Funding for the 18 grants totals approximately $11.3 million.

"The Statewide Health Improvement Program reflects our commitment to improving the health of our communities," Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger said, "and is an important part of containing the spiraling costs of health care."

SHIP is part of Minnesota's historic bi-partisan health care reform initiative first signed into law in 2008. It seeks to reduce the staggering human and financial cost of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases related to insufficient physical activity, poor nutrition and commercial tobacco use. In the first two years of SHIP funding, 41 grantees covering all 87 counties and 9 tribal governments began this important work, and resulted in successes such as helping improve nutrition at 544 child care sites serving approximately 8,564 children, assisting 255 cities create plans to increase walking and bicycling, and supporting Farm to School efforts in 350 schools and 22 school districts serving at least 69,323 students. Funding for SHIP was reduced during the 2011 legislative session; therefore, fewer grantees are receiving funding this year.

"To improve health in Minnesota, we have to think in terms of prevention, not just treatment," Ehlinger said. "In Minnesota and nationally, the two main causes of chronic disease and premature death are obesity, caused by poor nutrition and insufficient phy sical activity, and commercial tobacco use. We must do something to address these problems as individuals, as communities and as a state."

Nationally, tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition have been estimated to cause 35 percent of all annual deaths in the United States, or 800,000 deaths each year. These factors also drive up health care costs. "Not only do chronic diseases reduce the quality of life and life expectancy for Minnesotans, but the costs of treating them create a substantial burden for our health care system," Ehlinger adds.

"SHIP is, at its core, a program by and for local communities," says Patricia Adams, director of the Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives. SHIP is an innovative approach to health improvement, taking proven best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other leading public health organizations to create a menu of health improvement strategies for local communities. The grants to local communities will allow communities to choose what works best for them. "Strategies that work best in Minneapolis may or may not be the best way to go in Rice County," Adams said.

SHIP efforts focus on four areas: schools, health care, work places and the community in general. Examples include improving nutrition by working with schools to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, decreasing exposure to second-hand smoke by assisting owners of multi-unit housing wishing to make their buildings smoke-free, lowering insurance costs by supporting employers interested in workplace wellness programs, and increasing physical activity by helping communities make biking and walking safer.

MDH supports local public health and tribal governments by gathering together effective strategies, offering technical assistance and training and assisting in ev aluation. Evaluation is one key to SHIP. "It is critical that we know we are being effective," says Adams. "The goal is health improvement and cost savings, and we will settle for nothing less."

The grantees include:
• Anoka county.
• Beltrami, Clearwater, Lake of the Woods, Hubbard, Norman, Mahnomen and Polk counties.
• The cities of Bloomington, Edina and Richfield.
• Carlton, Cook, Lake, St. Louis, Aitkin, Itasca and Koochiching counties.
• Clay, Wilkin, Becker, and Otter Tail counties.
• Douglas, Grant, Stevens, Pope, and Traverse counties.
• Faribault, Martin, Watonwan, Cottonwood and Jackson counties.
• Hennepin county.
• Kanebec, Pine, Isanti and Mille Lacs counties.
• Leech Lake.
• Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Pipestone, Rock and Nobles counties.
• The city of Minneapolis.
• Meeker, McLeod and Sibley counties.
• Morrison, Todd, Wadena and Cass counties.
• Olmsted county.
• Rice county.
• St. Paul-Ramsey county.
• Sherburne county.

More information is available online at

Traffic signals, street lights to be installed on Highway 71 south of Bemidji

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Motorists may encounter minor delays and temporary lane closures on Highway 71 just south of Bemidji, as crews install new traffic signal systems and street lights the week of Dec. 12.

The street lights will be installed at various locations on Highway 71 between Carr Lake Road/ Beltrami County Road 11 and Beltrami County Road 2.

The new traffic signals installation on Highway 71 south of the Highway 2 overpass bridges is expected to begin Thursday, Dec. 15, and should be complete by Monday, Dec. 19, when the temporary signal systems will be removed.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation urges drivers to slow down in the work zone and be alert for workers and equipment.

For updated road condition information, call 5-1-1 or visit

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Comment Period on Draft Hunting Plan for MN Valley NWR

A 30-day comment period for the Refuge's Draft Hunting Plan began on December 5, 2011, and will end January 4, 2012. Migratory game bird, big game, and upland game hunting are allowed on designated areas of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge during state seasons. The hunting plan is being revised to include land owned or managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service between Jordan, Minn. and Henderson, Minn. Other proposed revisions include expanding areas open to special hunts, requiring non-toxic shot for turkey hunting, and limiting species open to hunting on a portion of the Wilkie Unit.

The Draft Hunting Plan is available on-line on the Refuge website: Paper copies are available at both the Rapids Lake Education & Visitor Center, located at 15865 Carver Highlands Drive in Carver, and the Bloomington Main Office at 3815 American Blvd. East in Bloomington. Written comments will be accepted at the Bloomington Office or via email at Please include "Draft Hunting Plan" in the subject line.

The Refuge is conducting a Listening Station to make it more convenient for people to comment on the Draft Hunting Plan. The Listening Station will be conducted at the Rapids Lake Education & Visitor Center on Thursday, December 15, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. People who want to comment on the draft plan or who are seeking more information are invited to stop by or drop off written comments, give oral comments or ask questions one-on-one with a Refuge employee.

For more information on the Listening Station or the Draft Hunting Plan, please call (952) 854-5900

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

HCSCC book reading & Signing

Moorhead, Minn., Dec. 6, 2011 – The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County will hold a book reading and signing for the third edition of “How Fargo You: Stories from the Northern Prairie that People Who Haven’t Been Here Will Never Believe” with author Marc de Celle on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 6 p.m. at the Hjemkomst Center. The event is free and open to the public.

“The third edition is really aimed at going out beyond Fargo—I want it to go national. I wrote a new preface that gets right to the point of what the implications are of the book,” de Celle said. “To take this to other places besides Fargo, I wrote some ‘dust jacket notes,’ focusing on the worst financial crisis of the last seventy years and how it hardly affected North Dakota.”

De Celle, a native of Arizona, moved to Fargo in 2005 after a visit in the summer of 2001. As soon as the opportunity was there for his family to move to Fargo, they did. They had no idea how deep—what de Celle has come to call “Northern Prairie Culture”—went. He says the past six years have been an amazing learning experience.

“If you value relationships and community over money and power, you’re going to avoid a tremendous amount of pain in the long run. Fargo has had one of the lowest unemployment rates in America, and that’s just because this culture of ‘looking out for one another’ is pervasive. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve experienced in my life. It’s a real life example of how life can work and how virtue can pay off over the long run,” de Celle said.

How Fargo of You is currently for sale in the Hjemkomst Center Heritage Gift Shop and will be available for purchase at the event.

Lake Region Extension Roundup Set for Jan. 3-4

The 2012 Lake Region Extension Roundup will be Jan. 3-4 in Devils Lake.

The annual event, which the North Dakota State University Extension Service organizes, offers presentations on a wide range of agricultural production and family topics.

"This is a great opportunity to learn about the latest updates in ag production, crop economics, livestock and horticulture," says Bill Hodous, Ramsey County Extension cropping systems agent.

Both days start with breakfast at 8 a.m. General and concurrent sessions begin at 9:30. The general sessions are in the World War II Memorial Building. Concurrent sessions will be in the Memorial Building's basement, the Armory Room, and the Historical Room and meeting room in the adjoining Ramsey County Courthouse.

General session topics on Jan. 3 include slowing weed resistance, leaf tissue analysis and micro- nutrients, the 2012 spring wheat outlook, small-grain insect and disease transmission, applying fungicide for scab, adding adjuvants to spray solutions and why wheat yields were lower than expected.

Concurrent session topics that day include land worth, agricultural contracts, cover crops, cell phone applications for agriculture, salinity and tiling, land rent negotiations, farm transitions, Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation assistance for 2012, apple tree selection and growing tips, how to kill lawn weeds, a parenting tool box, winter wheat, corn-growing strategies and barley trends.

Topics for the general sessions Jan. 4 include controlling dandelions, Canada thistle, foxtail barley and yellow toadflax; the 2011 canola overview; corn industry update; 2011 fungicide response in wheat; new rust in spring wheat; and flexible rent options.

Concurrent session topics that day include using geographic information systems to enhance crop productivity, new findings in soybean production, dry beans, on- farm feedlot monitoring results, a cow's worth from a feeding perspective, maximizing the value of future calf crops, beef genomics, possible changes in the new farm bill, new opportunities in canola, managing prevented planting acreage, benefits and drawbacks of trees for conservation, and on-farm tile drainage monitoring results.

Other events on Jan. 4 include the presentation of the Water Steward Award. Also, the guest speaker, cowboy poet and humorist Rodney Nelson, will focus on the light side of rural life.

Attending the roundup is free of charge. No registration is necessary. For more information, contact your county Extension Service office or Hodous at (701) 662-7027 or

Monday, December 5, 2011

Perham Health Opens Doors of $38 Million Hospital & Clinic

PERHAM, Minn. – Perham Health will begin serving patients in its newly constructed hospital and clinic facility on Monday, Jan. 9, 2012. Construction on the 120,000 sq. ft. facility began in November of 2009.

"The new hospital allows us to serve patients in a facility that promotes patient and family-centered care, supports patient privacy and encourages healing," says Chuck Hofius, CEO of Perham Health. "We're excited that the building design will also better equip our staff with the tools they need to care for patients."

Perham Health invites community members to tour the new facility on Sunday, December 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hospital employees will lead tours, a keepsake tour guidebook will be available and refreshments will be served. Employees will get their first glimpse at the completed facility on Wednesday, Dec. 7. A systematic transition to the new building will occur in early January with all services open at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 9.

"Perham and the surrounding communities were in great need of a modernized health care facility," says Hofius. "The old hospital was more than 50 years old with outdated utilities, infrastructure, and patient and exam rooms."

The new facility will alleviate high noise levels, privacy concerns and space shortages. Before construction began, a team of community members, employees and board members conducted an extensive study and visited nine newly constructed or remodeled facilities in the Midwest. Four overriding goals drove the design of the physical space – supporting patient and family-centered care, planning for future growth, providing efficiency and support for caregivers, and utilizing sustainable materials.

"Our desire at Perham Health is to deliver patient and family-centered care. We have developed operational procedures that follow this model of care, but the design of the new building will allow us to fully integrate care that keeps the best interest of the patient and family in mind," added Hofius.

The new facility includes family rooms, private consultation rooms, a family resource center, a family kitchen, a meditation chapel and outdoor gardens. The size of patient rooms has been expanded to allow for a fold out couch, recliner and storage unit for family members staying with patients.

Every department in the new hospital can accommodate a minimum of 25 percent growth in volume and can also be expanded if needed to accommodate more patients and add new services.

Designers paid close attention to the building materials, design and artwork selected for the facility. Steps were taken to make the building energy efficient and environmentally friendly products were used to ensure high standards of indoor air quality.

The incorporation of natural elements was essential to the design of the facility as well. Natural light, wood, water and vegetation are predominant architectural and design features. A central atrium brings in natural light, the number one environmental factor in patient healing, while artwork from local artists showcase landscapes and vegetation to create a beautiful and peaceful environment.

"We will utilize the advancements of the new facility, but we won't stop striving to be better. The dedication to delivering the best health care possible began almost 110 years ago and we will carry that vision into the future," says Hofius.

Minn-Kota American Red Cross Names New CEO

FARGO, ND (December 5, 2011) - Fargo resident Randy D. Johnson has been selected as the new CEO of the Minn-Kota Region of the American Red Cross. Volunteer chairman of the local Red Cross board of directors Duane A. Lillehaug announced the selection today.

“We are thrilled to have Randy Johnson as our new chapter CEO,” Lillehaug said. “He comes to the Red cross at a time of both great changes to our organization and a point when our services have never been more in demand all over the nation. In the past year the Red Cross in our region has responded to a disaster every 19 hours. In addition, we had a very difficult period of flooding which required our volunteers and staff to work long hours for many months to ensure that local disaster needs were met. It wasn’t until October that we closed our last shelter from the floods that began in Minot in May.”

“Randy brings a wealth of experience and ability to the position, and he will be a great addition to the team,” Regional Chapter Board member and Search Committee Chair Mark Jensen said. “Randy’s knowledge of the Red River Valley and the state of North Dakota will allow him to lead our dedicated group of staff and volunteers in the entire Minn-Kota Region service area.”

Johnson, who has been the Vice President for Human Resources and Development at the Noridian Mutual Insurance Company since 2006, will assume his new duties on January 9, 2012. Johnson is a 1985 graduate of North Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science in AgBusiness.

“I am very proud to serve the American Red Cross in this role,” Johnson said. “It is an organization that does so much good for so many. I am very excited about this opportunity.”

Since August 2011the Region has been operating under the guidance of interim CEO Vijay Sethi who came to the Red Cross from Clay County, Minnesota.

“We are extremely pleased with the appointment of Randy Johnson to lead the Minn-Kota Chapter,” Jim Hamilton, vice president of the Northwest and Pacific Islands Division of the American Red Cross said. “And we also owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Vijay Sethi who stepped in to take the helm at the chapter as the interim CEO in August 2011. He worked very hard to bring our staff and volunteers together and move the chapter forward at a time when the national organization was coping with far-reaching changes and we were still in the midst of a very active disaster period. We wish Vijay great success in his future endeavors.”

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

Friday, December 2, 2011

increase in hiring women, minorities & disadvantaged

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The number of minority and women workers, as well as disadvantaged businesses employed on transportation construction projects, has steadily increased during the past three years, according to figures released by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Statistics show that 3,200 workers were employed on federally funded state transportation construction projects during the peak period in August 2011. Of these, 272 workers were minorities (8.5 percent of the workforce), up from 168 (7.5 percent) in 2010 and 114 (6.1 percent) in 2009. In addition, there were 143 women (4.5 percent) hired in 2011, compared to 87 (3.9 percent) in 2010 and 62 (3.3 percent) in 2009.

“The commitment to address joblessness is a cornerstone of MnDOT’s civil rights program and the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and Workforce Collaborative,” said Mary Prescott, director of MnDOT’s Office of Civil Rights. “Minnesota is helping to level the playing field for women and minorities, and it is rewarding to see our efforts to develop a diverse workforce produce results.”
Prescott said that MnDOT’s on-the-job training program, which establishes apprenticeships targeted to move women, minorities and disadvantaged persons into professional positions, as well as community programs that develop heavy equipment and construction-related training, have contributed to the increase in the number of women and minorities in transportation construction.

Workers employed on federally funded transportation construction projects in August, 2011
2011 2010 2009
Total Employment 3,200 2,251 1,873
Total Minorities 272 168 114
Total Women 143 87 62
% Minorities 8.5% 7.5% 6.1%
% Women 4.5% 3.9% 3.3%

MnDOT also announced the 2011 DBE participation rate on construction projects is 7.6 percent compared to 5.6 percent participation rate in 2010. Any MnDOT, county or city project receiving federal funds establishes a DBE goal. DBE specialists, in consultation with MnDOT’s Office of Construction and the project manager, evaluate each project’s location, size, work type and the availability of DBEs. These DBE project goals are included in the contract or proposal for the project.

“This year’s DBE participation is a result of the productive partnership between MnDOT and the DBE and Workforce Collaborative who are collectively evaluating the effectiveness of a revised DBE contract provision,” Prescott said. “We look forward to continued progress leading to sustainability in meeting DBE goals over the next several years.”

The Transportation Equity Network recently cited Minnesota as one of only four states that increased access to federal highway construction jobs for women and minorities. The report, The Road to Good Jobs: Making Training Work (October 2011), identified the state’s success in increasing the number of women and minorities in federal highway road construction training programs from 2008 to 2010. The other states were Hawaii, which led the way with 8.2 percent, and Minnesota, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, whose numbers were between 6 to 7 percent each.

Prescott credits changes in MnDOT’s Office of Civil Rights as well as the creation in 2008 of the Minnesota Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and Workforce Collaborative for contributing to this success.

“MnDOT created the DBE and Workforce Collaborative to balance competing interests and improve diverse workforce participation on roadway projects, including establishing training programs that ensure workforce participation in the transportation industry reflects the demographics of Minnesota,” she said.

For more information about MnDOT’s Office of Civil Rights and its programs, see

For more information about the Minnesota DBE & Workforce Collaborative, see

Transportation Equity Network report is available at:

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony in St Paul

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 marks the 70th Anniversary of the Attacks on Pearl Harbor. The 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was a defining moment in U.S. history.

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and Fort Snelling National Cemetery Memorial Rifle Squad will host a remembrance ceremony at 10 a.m. Dec. 7 to honor those who served, and remember those who gave their lives in the defense of Pearl Harbor. The event will include a rifle salute, and brief program, including remarks by Pearl Harbor survivor Richard Thill.

Minnesotans have had a proud history of service related to Pearl Harbor. Naval Reservists from Minnesota, serving aboard the USS Ward, were conducting a patrol near the entrance to Pearl Harbor. They sank a Japanese midget submarine, thus firing the first American shots of WWII. The number three gun, which fired the shot, sits on the Capitol Grounds near the west side of the Veterans Service Building in St. Paul.
The program begins at 10am and refreshments will be served. It will be held at the Veterans Service Building, 5th Floor, 20 W. 12th Street, St. Paul, MN.

In addition to this event, The 70 Years Project ( and MN Historical Society are hosting a program at the Minnesota History Center at 7 p.m. Dec.7. For more information visit

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Explore MN Challenge

Anderson Race Management and Explore Minnesota Tourism, the travel promotion office of the State of Minnesota, announced today the launch of the new statewide running series, the "Explore Minnesota Challenge." This series of more than 25 races in locations around the state of Minnesota encourages runners and walkers to participate in eight of the events, including at least one in each of four different areas of the state.

"This new race series includes a variety of great events around our state," said Anderson Race Management owner Mary Anderson. "We are thrilled to partner with Explore Minnesota on the Explore Minnesota Challenge as we work to bring walkers and runners out to enjoy the unique offerings of each of the wonderful regions of this state."

Participants will be awarded an Explore Minnesota Challenge lapel pin representing the region where they completed a race. A special Explore Minnesota Challenge medal will be awarded to those who complete a total of eight events, including one in each of the four designated areas.

Participants who register for the series will also receive membership in the Minnesota Distance Running Association.

"Minnesotans are known for their active lifestyles," said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism. "Partnering with Anderson Race Management on this race series is a great way to promote Minnesota as a destination for runners and walkers. The series is an innovative way to let people know about the fun events Minnesota communities offer year-round."

Registration for the series starts today and is open to the first 500 participants. The first event that will be available to challengers is the Securian Winter Run, January 28, 2012. For a complete list of participating Challenge events and to register for the Explore Minnesota Challenge, visit

Soybean Production & Management at UMC Dec 20

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Soybean producers and agriculture professionals interested in practical and in-depth management information to help maximize profits in soybean production are encouraged to participate in the Soybean College at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. The interactive combination of hands-on lab experiences and lectures will be held on Tuesday, December 20, 2011, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. Registration is $40 before December 12 or $50 at the door the day of the event. Lunch will be provided for participants.

The Soybean College is a joint collaboration between University of Minnesota Extension, College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences; Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council; University of Minnesota Crookston; and the Northwest Research and Outreach Center. Payment must accompany registration $40 registration before December 12. Checks should be made payable to University of Minnesota Extension. Registration with payment can be mailed to UMN Extension RO – Moorhead, Amanda LeGare, 715 11th Street No., Ste. 107C Moorhead, Minn., 56560-2083.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center, with a welcome at 8:30 followed by a general session on the Soybean Trade Mission to China and MSGA: Facing Policy Issues Together with Kurt Krueger, farmer and President of Minnesota Soybean Growers Association.

The opening session will be followed by a series of lectures and laboratories to be repeated during the day at least once. The concurrent sessions begin at 10:05 a.m. and run until 3:10 p.m. with a break for lunch at noon.

Lecture session topics include: Soybean Fertility Program for Northwest Minnesota with Dan Kaiser from the University of Minnesota; Soybean Agronomics with Seth Naeve, University of Minnesota; Addressing Soil Compaction with Jodi DeJong-Hughes, University of Minnesota; Developing Weed Management Plans with Jeff Gunsolus, University of Minnesota; and Soybean Cost of Production and Market Considerations for 2012 with Bill Craig and Bret Oelke, both from the University of Minnesota.

Laboratory sessions are designed to provide participants with hands on experiences and exposure to a variety of current production issues. Topics of the labs include: Soybean Disease Recognition and Challenges with Dean Malvick, University of Minnesota; Insect Issues in Soybeans with Phil Glogoza, University of Minnesota; Matching Soybean Growth Stages with Crop Management with Doug Holen, University of Minnesota; Beyond the Soil Survey Book with Kristina Walker, University of Minnesota; and Soybean Cyst Nematode Lab: How to Determine Egg Counts from Soil Tests with Kasia Kinzer, North Dakota State University.

The brochure and registration form can be downloaded at


ST. PAUL — Law enforcement agencies statewide will deliver added DWI patrols in December, the peak month for alcohol-related crashes during the last three years. The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over heightened enforcement begins Friday, Dec. 2; extra enforcement will also run nationwide.

Municipal and county sheriff law enforcement agencies will partner with the Minnesota State Patrol. in the state’s campaign coordinated by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety. The effort will include 8,500 extra hours of DWI patrols on the roads.

There were 1,097 alcohol-related crashes in Decembers, 2008–2010, resulting in 24 fatalities. Despite the high number of crashes, December is among the lowest months for alcohol-related fatalities.

“There is always a great potential for alcohol-related traffic crashes surrounding holiday celebrations when people don’t plan ahead for a sober ride,” says Col. Kevin Daly, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol. “If you make the mistake of driving impaired, you will face the consequences.”

There were 131 alcohol-related traffic deaths in 2010 in the state, the fewest on record and down 21 percent from five years ago. Still, during 2006–2010, 791 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes — reflecting impaired driving as a factor annually in one-third of the state’s road fatalities.

Each year, 30,000 motorists are arrested for DWI; one in seven Minnesota drivers has a DWI on record.
A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year, thousands in costs and possible jail time. Stronger DWI sanctions are also now in effect for all repeat DWI offenders, as well as for motorists arrested for a first-time DWI with a 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level. Under these sanctions, offenders must use ignition interlock for at least one year or face at least a year without driving privileges.

Interlock requires a driver to provide a breath sample under 0.02 for the vehicle to start. Safety officials say interlock ensures DWI offenders are driving legally and safely. Potential participants of program can learn more at
DPS encourages Minnesotans to:

• Plan for a safe ride — Designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation, or stay at the location of the celebration. Families should let each other know that they will be available to offer a safe ride home.
• Report impaired driving — Call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Witnesses must be prepared to provide location, license plate and observed dangerous behavior.

Minnesotans are also encouraged to “give the gift of a safe lift” with a “Designated Driver Gift Card.” Card-givers offer to serve as a designated driver to support safe and sober roads. Gift cards can be downloaded at

The campaign is supported by a statewide advertising campaign featuring the “Elf Arrested for DWI!” TV spot.

To-date in 2011 there have been 313 traffic deaths compared to 369 at this time in 2010.

Enhanced DWI patrols are a component of the state’s core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.

Minnesota Department of Commerce launches Stay Warm Minnesota site

ST. PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Commerce today launched a newly redesigned, user-friendly Stay Warm Minnesota section of its website. The new section has a direct web address ( and is designed to provide easier access to information and deliver better service to Minnesota consumers who are experiencing challenges during this winter heating season.

“Stay Warm Minnesota is designed as a starting place to help every Minnesota family experience a safe and comfortable winter without having their home heating bills overtake the family budget,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Having a ‘one-stop-shop’ for a variety of resources will make it more straightforward for consumers who need help paying their heat bills, weatherizing their homes, and making efficient choices about energy use.”

Included in the Stay Warm Minnesota section is useful information regarding energy efficiency, heating safety and financial assistance programs provided by the federal and state government, private industry, nonprofits and energy utilities. Links to non-profit organizations and government sites are included, along with publications and tips for saving energy.

For more information, contact the Division of Energy Resources Energy Information Center by phone at (651) 296-5175 or (800) 657-3710, or by email at