Monday, December 17, 2012

DNR urges snowmobile safety

Recent snowfall will likely bring out more Minnesota snowmobilers and that means there’s an increased chance of an accident, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

There were six snowmobile-related deaths in Minnesota during the 2012 snowmobile season. That compares to 13 fatalities in 2011 and 19 fatalities in 2010.

The usual causes of snowmobile accidents are operator inexperience, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and high speeds.

“Snowmobiles can travel as fast, or faster, than an automobile, and require every bit as much or more experience to operate,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR enforcement education program coordinator. The speed limit for all snowmobile trails and public lands and waters is 50 miles per hour.

Hammer noted that today’s sleds can easily do 70, if not 100, miles per hour. Unfortunately, they don’t stop like a vehicle or offer the same protection.

“Speed kills and that is a fact with snowmobiles,” said Hammer.

Going too fast can also cause snowmobile drivers to "overdrive" their snowmobile's headlight. Even at 30 miles per hour, it can take a much longer distance to stop on ice than the headlight shines. Many fatal snowmobile through-the-ice accidents occur because the machine was traveling too fast for the operator to stop when the headlamp finally illuminated the hole in the ice.

Snowmobilers also need to be alert on all trails. They might not realize trails go over ponds or lakes where the ice might not be formed yet.

Many accidents also happen when snowmobiles collide with fixed objects such as trees, fences, stumps, rocks, logs and culverts. Often these objects are partially or completely hidden by snow. Snowmobilers sometimes hit one of these before they see it.

“Always be on the lookout for hidden wires, especially in areas that may have been farmed at one time or another,” Hammer said. “Too many accidents have been caused by running into wires in fields, guide wires next to poles and roads, barbed wire and chains used as road closures. Particularly in unfamiliar areas, you must drive at a speed which will allow you to stop quickly.”

Minnesota residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, must complete a DNR snowmobile safety training course before they can legally ride a snowmobile anywhere in Minnesota, including private land.

By taking a snowmobile safety course, students learn about the machine, laws, safe operation, ethics of the sport and how to avoid the most common causes of snowmobile accidents, Hammer said.

DNR snowmobile safety courses can be completed by either attending a snowmobile safety training course from a DNR-certified instructor or by CD.

To obtain the Snowmobile Safety Training CD, or for general information, call 651-296-6157, or toll-free 888-646-6367, 800-366-8917 or email

More than 1,800 volunteer instructors teach DNR snowmobile safety courses across the state. For more information on the dates and locations of these courses, visit the DNR website: or call toll-free 800-366-8917.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elections set for two Minnesota commodity research and promotion councils

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Dairy Research and Promotion Council and the Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council will conduct board elections next month.

Ballots for the Dairy Council will be mailed January 11, 2013 and must be returned with a postmark prior to January 28, 2013. There is one position open in each of the districts listed below. Dairy board members serve a two year term.

Dairy Research and Promotion Council Districts

District 2: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs, Pine, St. Louis

District 4: Otter Tail (west), Wilkin

District 6: Crow Wing, Morrison

District 8: Includes these Townships in Stearns County: Ashley, Crow Lake, Crow River, Getty, Grove, Lake George, Lake Henry, Melrose, Millwood, North Fork, Oak, Raymond, Spring Hill, Sauk Centre

District 10: Anoka, Benton, Chisago, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Sherburne, Washington

District 12: Meeker, Wright

District 14: Brown, Nicollet, Sibley

District 16: Goodhue County

District 18: Cottonwood, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Rock

District 20: Dodge, Mower, Olmsted

District 22: Fillmore, Houston

Ballots for the Turkey Council will be mailed January 18, 2013 and must be returned with a postmark prior to February 4, 2013. There is one position open in each of the regions listed below, plus three at large positions are open. Turkey board members serve a three year term.

Turkey Research and Promotion Council Regions

Region 1: Aitkin, Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Carlton, Cass, Chisago, Clay, Clearwater, Cook, Crow Wing, Douglas, Grant, Hennepin, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Nicollet, Norman, Ottertail, Pennington, Pine, Polk, Pope, Ramsey, Red Lake, Roseau, St. Louis, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, Todd, Traverse, Wadena, Washington, Wilkin, Wright.

Region 2: Big Stone, Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Dakota, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Rock, Scott, Sibley, Steele, Swift, Wabasha, Waseca, Watonwan, Winona, Yellow Medicine.

East-central zone closes to wolf hunting and trapping Dec. 14

Wolf hunting and trapping in the east-central zone will close for the remainder of the late season at the end of shooting and trapping hours on Friday, Dec. 14, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The northwest and northeast zones remain open through
Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, or until a zone’s target harvest is reached. The northeast zone also is approaching its target harvest and may close within the next few days. Permits are not zone-specific, allowing hunters and trappers to hunt or trap in any open zone.

The harvest target for the east-central zone during the late season is 10 wolves. Nine were registered when
DNR initiated season closure on Dec. 13.

Hunters and trappers in all zones have registered a total of 114 wolves so far during the late season. The total harvest target for all zones is 253 wolves for the late season.

Wolf hunters and trappers must:

Register all wolves by 10 p.m. the day of harvest in order for the DNR to monitor zone-specific harvest levels. Registration is available via telephone, website or in person.

Obey zone closures, which become effective the end of legal shooting and trapping hours for the day on which a zone is closed.

Take responsibility for tracking season progress and season/zone closure each morning before hunting or trapping by calling 888-706-6367 or checking the DNR wolf hunting page.

Season status and harvest targets will be updated in real-time for each zone.

Return any radio collars when they bring wolves in for the mandatory wolf inspection and bring an ear tag along so that information on the tag can be examined and recorded.

Present the entire skinned wolf and pelt for inspection as outlined in the wolf hunting and trapping regulations so the DNR can collect data on wolves for population monitoring.

Complete wolf hunting information, including a map of the wolf zones, is available online at

NDSU Offers Fall Prevention Workshop

Stepping On is a workshop designed to help older adults learn ways to keep from falling.

The workshop will be held Jan. 8 starting at
9 a.m. at First Lutheran Church at 619 N. Broadway in Fargo. Two-hour sessions will be held once a week for seven weeks.

The workshop is sponsored by the North Dakota State University Extension Service and First Lutheran.

Stepping On will help participants identify why they fall and offer different ways to prevent falling, including strength and balance exercises, home safety check suggestions and a medication review. A display of fall prevention products also will be available.

The workshop is for people who have fallen and those who have a fear of falling. Participants will leave with more strength and better balance, and experience a feeling of confidence and independence as a result of performing various exercises and sharing falling experiences as a group.

The program was developed by Lindy Clemson of Sydney, Australia, to help older adults learn ways to prevent falls. It was brought to the
U.S. by Jane Mahoney, executive director of the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other partners.

Research shows that people who complete the workshop have a 31 percent reduced rate of falling.

The cost of the workshop is $20. To register for the workshop, contact Jane Strommen at (701) 231-5948 or or
First Lutheran Church at (701) 235-7389. The registration deadline is Jan. 3.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Turkey stamp contest entries accepted Dec. 13-28

Artists wishing to enter the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2013 wild turkey stamp contest must submit their entries beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, and ending at 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28.

The eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) must be the primary focus of the design.

A panel consisting of members with expertise in art, ornithology, hunting, conservation and printing will judge all entries. Judging will take place on Friday, Jan. 11, at the Arrowwood Resort near Alexandria in conjunction with the National Wild Turkey Federation’s state banquet.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to wild turkey habitat and management. Extirpated from Minnesota around 1900, wild turkey re-introduction and transplant efforts have been successful, resulting in a population that thrives throughout the nonboreal forest portion of the state.

The stamp art contest is open only to Minnesota residents and offers no prizes. Winning artists may issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain the proceeds. A reproduction rights agreement, granting the DNR the right to use the design for the stamp image and other purposes, must be signed and submitted with the design to be considered eligible.

Complete contest rules are available online at
Information also is available by contacting the
DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4040. People can also call 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646 6367.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Recount Results for MN State Senate Dist. 20 House Dist. 8B

ST. PAUL, Minn.December 4, 2012Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie today announced the official recount results for State Senate District 20 and House District 8B.

The candidates affected by the legislative recounts were Kevin L. Dahle (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) and Mike Dudley (Republican) in Senate District 20 and Mary Franson (Republican) and Bob Cunniff (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) in House District 8B. These taxpayer-paid recounts were triggered by Minnesota Law (Minnesota Statutes 204C.35) because the vote total margin between these candidates was less than one-half of one percent.

The recount for Senate District 20 was conducted in Le Suer, Rice and
Scott Counties. Recount results show that Kevin L. Dahle (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) received 20,627 votes and Mike Dudley (Republican) 20,556. There was a gain of six votes for Dudley and the loss of a vote for Dahle. The House District 8B recount was conducted in Douglas and Otter Tail Counties. Recount results show that Mary Franson (Republican) received 10,642 votes and Bob Cunniff (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) received 10,630 votes. Franson gained two votes and Cunniff gained a vote.

“I want to thank all of the local and state election officials who worked together to administer these two legislative recounts. I also want to express my gratitude to the justices and judges who served on the 2012 State Canvassing Board. Your public service is greatly appreciated,” said Secretary of State Ritchie.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Single Lane Closure Planned for Monday in Fargo

(FARGO, N.D.) – The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) would like to update the traveling public on the 10th St. N reconstruction project. On Monday, Nov. 19, one northbound lane on 10th St. N will be closed just north of 12th Ave. N, between the 1200 and 1300 blocks. The lane closure is required for crews to complete underground work. Motorists will still be able to travel north along 10th St. N through the work zone, and it’s expected that crews will resume the roadway to two lanes by the end of the day on Monday.

Motorists are urged to stay alert and watch for work zone signage, pedestrians and bicyclists. The speed limit in this work zone will be 25 MPH.

Farmers, ag businesses and entrepreneurs targeted for new grant program

St. Paul, Minn.Minnesota agricultural producers and processors can now apply for grants to implement value added projects to their operations. A total of $700,000 in funding was made available through the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Program (AGRI), established by the legislature to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will distribute the funds through its AGRI Value Added Grant Program which aims to increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products by diversifying markets and by increasing market access and food safety.

Specifically, these grants are intended to:
· initiate or expand livestock product processing;
· create feasibility, business, marketing and succession plans for existing and new businesses;
· purchase equipment to initiate, upgrade, or modernize value added businesses;
· increase on-farm food safety, such as implementation of a food safety plan
· increase farmers’ processing and aggregating capacity to enter farm-to-school and other markets

Proposals that have a meat processing, farm-to-school (or other institution) component, or are addressing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) or similar type of food safety plan will receive priority, but all value added proposals are encouraged to apply. Small to medium sized operations will also receive special consideration.

Proposals that include business planning, feasibility studies, marketing planning and succession planning are eligible for 50 percent of the total project cost up to a maximum grant award of $30,000.

Equipment purchases or physical improvements are eligible for 25 percent of the total project cost up to a maximum grant award of $70,000 with a completed business plan or food safety plan. A business or food safety plan must outline what equipment and improvements are necessary to fulfill the plan.

The grants will be distributed in two rounds. Round one applications must be received by the MDA no later than 4:00 p.m. on December 31, 2012. Round two applications must be received no later than 4:00 p.m. on March 1, 2013. Proposals may be delivered by mail, in person, or by email. If a proposal is emailed, the time and date it is received by the program administrator will be considered the received-by date.

Applications are available at For more information, contact David Weinand, MDA grants administrator, at 651-201-6646 or

Crop Day Featuring Corn and Soils Set for Dec. 4 at Carrington

The North Dakota State University Carrington Research Extension Center (REC) will conduct its annual Crop Day on Dec. 4.

The emphasis this year will be on corn and soil management, according to Greg Endres, NDSU Extension Service area agronomist at the Carrington REC.

Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. There is no registration fee. Refreshments and a noon meal sponsored by the North Dakota Corn Council will be served.

The morning's educational program begins at 9 a.m. Utilizing a combination of NDSU and industry crop experts, the educational session will provide details in five areas of corn production.

Bruce Due, Mycogen agronomist, will review what was experienced and learned during the 2012 corn-growing season that can be used in future years. Walt Albus, NDSU research agronomist, will discuss the advantages and challenges of managing corn residue. He will share research data to answer the question: Is this a resource or a restriction for optimizing crop production?

Jeff Stachler, NDSU Extension weed scientist, will provide an overview of glyphosate-resistant weeds in
North Dakota. He will discuss the current status and strategies to prevent or manage the problem.

The fourth corn subject is intensive management. Part one will be sharing highlights of NDSU's research relating to corn response to combinations of production factors and special inputs. The session will be led by Blaine Schatz, Carrington REC director and agronomist, and Endres. Part two will be an industry view presented by Jason Hanson, Winfield agronomist. Hanson will discuss using numerous plant establishment and nutrition factors to maximize corn production.

The final morning session will be on the use of variable-rate technology for planting and the nutritional needs of corn and other crops. Dave Franzen, NDSU Extension soils specialist, will discuss variable-rate strategies and the economics of it based on research data.

Starting at
1:15 p.m., the soils program will have two sessions. First, Franzen will discuss how salt-affected soils emerge and will make recommendations on management. The second session will be devoted to the management of weeds, such as foxtail barley, cattails, curly dock and dandelions, in wet and salty soils. Speakers include Mike Ostlie, research agronomist at the Carrington REC, and Endres.

A total of 4 continuing education credits in crop, nutrient, pest, and soil and water management will be available for certified crop advisers participating in the event.

More meeting details can be found at Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Carrington REC at (701) 652-2951; Tim Becker, Eddy County Extension agent, (701) 947-2454; Joel Lemer, Foster County Extension agent, (701) 652-2581; or Lindsay Maddock, Wells County Extension agent, (701) 547-3341.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Members sought for state mental health advisory bodies

The State Advisory Council on Mental Health and the Subcommittee on Children's Mental Health are accepting applications for membership.

The council and subcommittee advise the Governor and state departments on policies, programs and services affecting adults with mental illnesses and children with emotional disturbances. Each group consists of 30 members representing a variety of perspectives on the mental health system.

The council has openings for two consumers of mental health services; i.e., recipients of public mental health services. The subcommittee has an opening for a parent of a child with mental health issues. Any Minnesotan is eligible for membership.
Appointments to the State Advisory Council are made by the Governor and appointments to the Children’s Subcommittee are made by the council. Terms are for four years.

The council and subcommittee meet on the first Thursday of the month in St. Paul. They will not be meeting in December. In addition to reimbursement for travel, lodging and meal expenses, there is a stipend of $55 per meeting.

Applications are available online at on the Secretary of State’s website at or from Bruce Weinstock, executive director of the State Advisory Council, at or 651-431-2249. Applications will be accepted until the appointments are made, which cannot be earlier than Jan. 4, 2013.

BBB Offers Tips to Black Friday Shoppers

Burnsville, Minnesota November 15, 2012 – Thanksgiving is almost here, and this year Black Friday shopping will begin earlier than ever – kicking off Thanksgiving evening at some retail outlets. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is offering tips to people planning on taking advantage of Black Friday – traditionally the day after Thanksgiving – sales offers.

“Black Friday only seems to get bigger – and start earlier – each year,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “We try to remind people to plan ahead, be mindful of their budgets, and always be clear on store return policies. On big ticket items especially, there may be restocking fees if a consumer wishes to make a return.”

Black Friday shoppers should also be sure to keep these tips in mind:

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

· Search for Black Friday Ads Ahead of Time. Newspapers often have coupons that give discounts for Black Friday. Black Friday ads are also posted on the Internet. Some sites post ads for Black Friday before they are published.

· Return policies, restocking fees and refunds. Ask for the store’s return policy before you make your purchase. Companies are not required to give you your money back, but they need to post their return policy prominently near the cashier. Also, always ask about restocking fees, and save your receipts in one place so you don’t lose them. Many companies will require you to produce a receipt for a return. Ask for a gift receipt.

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

o An inactivity fee cannot be charged until the card has not been used for 12 months.

o Gift cards cannot expire for at least 5 years.

o No more than one fee (of any kind) can be charged to the cardholder in a single month.

o Information printed on the card must disclose fees and expiration date and provide a toll-free phone number or website where you can get more information.

o A one-time fee can be charged when you buy the card, though this generally only applies to gift cards purchased through your credit card company – not those purchased directly from stores and restaurants.

Note: These rules do not cover reloadable cards, such as prepaid phone card or debit cards from the big credit card companies. Rebate and loyalty reward programs are also exempt. If you receive a gift card, you should redeem it promptly if possible.

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

Lastly, consumers are encouraged to have fun and be safe. Remember, there will be many more sales as we go through the holiday season.

New bike trail construction underway in Glendalough State Park

Construction of a new paved bike trail in Glendalough State Park in northwestern Minnesota in underway, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). When complete, the trail will consist of an eight-mile loop within the park and a three-mile connection spur to the city of Battle Lake. The trail will pass through woods and prairie and offer views of Annie Battle and Molly Stark lakes.

Portions of the Annie Battle Lake and Lake Emma trails may be closed to hikers and bikers on weekdays during construction. No construction is anticipated on weekends, so trails will remain open on those days. Construction will cease once trails are suitable for cross-country skiing, so groomed trails will not be impacted. Completion of the park portion of the trail is anticipated by late August 2013, although it could be finished as early as June, depending on weather.

The trail is a joint project of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division, Otter Tail County and the city of Battle Lake. The segment of the trail located within the park – the first to undergo construction – is funded by state bonding dollars and a Federal Recreational Trails Program grant. Construction of the other two trail sections is anticipated to begin in 2013.

If weather is favorable, the contractor hopes to prepare the subgrade level of the trail before the end of December so aggregate can be applied and paving can take place next spring. Some trees will be trimmed or removed to accommodate the trail, which will be 10 feet wide with one-foot shoulders.

The DNR advises anyone visiting the park to follow special instructions posted on signs and to stay off trails that are closed. The main cart-in campground and group camp are not affected by bike trail construction, although the park has blocked reservations at the canoe-in campground for weekdays in the month of May.

A grand opening event is being planned for next summer to celebrate the major addition to the park. For more information, call the park at 218-864-0110.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

short term detours this week in Crookston & Thief River Falls

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Two short term detours will be in place this week as crews repair rail crossings on Highway 75 in Crookston and Highway 59 in Thief River Falls.

Highway 75 in Crookston will be closed between Highway 2 and Fischer Avenue from 7 a.m. Wednesday to mid-afternoon Thursday. Traffic on Highway 75 will be detoured to Highway 2.

Highway 59 in Thief River Falls will be closed between Davis and Atlantic Avenues. West bound traffic on Highway 59 will be detoured north on Davis Avenue to Highway 1, then west to Atlantic Avenue and south back to Highway 59. This closure will only be in effect on Thursday, Nov.15, with no parking allowed between LaBree and Atlantic Avenues for east bound traffic during this time. In addition, the signal system at the Highway 59 and Atlantic Avenue intersection will be set on flashing.

Motorists are asked to slow down and be alert to slow and turning traffic at these intersections.

Improvements to the Highway 75 and Highway 59 rail crossings will provide a smoother, more even surface for motorists.

For updated road conditions and construction around the state, call 5-1-1 or click on

Friday, November 9, 2012

Department of Commerce secures $105 million in funding for the Energy Assistance Program

ST. PAUL, MN - The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced today that Minnesota will receive $105,907,012 in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the Energy Assistance Program (EAP). EAP helps low-income homeowners and renters pay heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of customers.

 “These critical federal dollars are good news and will make a big difference to help Minnesotans who struggle to pay for home heating and make ends meet in the cold winter months ahead. The Minnesota Commerce Department has and will work hard to make sure these funds best help low-income families and individuals in need of energy assistance," said Commissioner Mike Rothman. “No Minnesotan should be without a warm place to call home.”

The Minnesota Department of Commerce administers the EAP in partnership with 34 local service providers throughout the state. EAP is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program helps renters and homeowners earning less than 50 percent of the state’s median income ($42,789 for a family of four) obtain grant money to help pay their heating bills.

“Adverse economic conditions have left many Minnesotans stretching every dollar and struggling to make ends meet,” said Commissioner Rothman. “We encourage all Minnesotans who may have difficulty paying their heating bills to apply for EAP assistance. Households that include children under the age of six, people with disabilities, veterans and seniors are especially encouraged to apply.”

Last year, Minnesota served 163,254 households and renters with $117 million in federal funds. The average household income of those receiving EAP funds was $16,000. Approximately 85% of the homes included at least one senior, person with a disability, or a child under the age of 18. This year, the average grant per household will be $500.

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-served basis. Interested households should contact their local service provider by calling 1-800-657-3710 or visiting the Energy Assistance section of the Commerce Department’s website ( The Minnesota EAP is supported by federal LIHEAP funding and administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

MN Sec of State Announces State Canvassing Board Members

ST. PAUL, Minn.October 30, 2012Secretary of State Mark Ritchie today announced the members of the State Canvassing Board whose responsibility it will be to canvass and certify the results of the State General Election held on November 6.

Minnesota Statutes 204C.31 requires the Secretary of State to select the five members of state canvassing board. By law members of the board must be the secretary of state, two judges from the Minnesota Supreme Court and two judges of the district court.

Members of the 2012 State General Election State Canvassing Board include:

  • The Honorable Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State
  • The Honorable Paul H. Anderson, Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court
  • The Honorable Christopher J. Dietzen, Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court
  • The Honorable Edward I. Lynch, Chief Judge, First Judicial District
  • The Honorable Karen J. Asphaug, District Court Judge, First Judicial District

To avoid conflicts of interest, by law, no judges or justices who are members of the state canvassing board may be candidates at the election. It is also important to note that unlike other election issues subject to administrative recounts, constitutional amendments are not subject to recounts administered by the state canvassing board, but are subject to court election contests.

The State Canvassing Board will meet at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, November 27, 2012, in Room 10 of the State Office Building located at 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, Minnesota.

NW MN Motorists buckle up 73.9 percent, survey says

BEMIDJINorthwestern Minnesota new seat belt compliance rate is 73.9 percent, reflecting an increase— last year’s belt use rate was 65.8 percent.

Northwestern Minnesota region has shown significant improvement in belt use rates when compared to other Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths regions.

The survey results were announced in conjunction with a statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement effort that lasted through Oct. 26.

The observational survey was conducted in June and data were collected in eleven counties.

The regional seat belt surveys are unrelated to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) annual statewide survey results announced recently and cannot be compared to the statewide results.

Statewide belt use is a record high 93.6 percent, according to DPS. The statewide survey provides a comprehensive gauge of belt use by measuring counties where 85 percent of the state’s road deaths occurred on average during the past three years, while the regional surveys have a smaller sample size and aim to provide an additional snapshot of belt use to measure local progress.

Regional Seat Belt Use Rates

East Central Minnesota:

§ 85.1 percent (first time regional belt use survey)

§ Counties observed — Benton, Cass, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wright.

Northeast Minnesota:

§ 80.5 percent, slightly up from 80.3 percent in 2011.

§ Counties observed (April 2012) — Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine, St. Louis.

Northwest Minnesota:

§ 73.9 percent, up from 65.8 percent in 2011.

§ Counties observed (June 2012) —Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau.

Southeast Minnesota:

§ 86.7 percent, up from 84.7 percent in 2011.

§ Counties observed — Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Winona.


South Central Minnesota

§ 84.7 percent, up from 73.2 percent in 2011.

§ Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Nobles, Rock, Sibley, Waseca and Watonwan.

 Southwest Minnesota

§ 82.5 percent, up from 81.1 percent in 2011.

§ Big Stone, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Swift and Yellow Medicine.

West Central Minnesota:

§ 77.3 percent (first-time regional belt use survey)

§ Counties observed — Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Mahnomen, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, Wilkin.

Charting Minnesota Seat Belt Use Rates and Unbelted Deaths

As statewide seat belt use has increased, unbelted deaths have dropped, according to DPS:

§ 1986 (the year Minnesota first passed a seat belt law): Belt compliance was 20 percent; 280 unbelted deaths.

§ 2003 (10 years ago): Belt compliance was 79.4 percent; 257 unbelted deaths.

§ 2008 (five years ago): Belt use was 86.7 percent; 150 unbelted deaths.

§ 2011: Belt use was 92.6 percent; 120 unbelted deaths.

State venison donation program available for deer hunters

ST. PAUL, Minn. – With thousands of Minnesota deer hunters preparing for the start of the firearms season this weekend, the Minnesota Hunter Harvested Venison Donation Program is once again gearing up to provide hunters with the option to donate venison to help feed hungry Minnesotans.

The venison donation program is operated by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and state food shelves. The program provides a source of protein to people in need while helping reduce local deer populations.
Minnesota hunters donated 421 deer to the program in 2011, which provided 15,520 pounds of processed venison to Minnesota food shelves. Funding for the program comes from a $1 surcharge placed on deer bonus permits.

To be eligible to donate venison to the program, hunters must have their deer processed at a state-registered meat processing plant that has agreed to participate in the program. A list of processors can be found online by typing “venison processors” into the search field on MDA’s homepage at Hunters are urged to contact the processor before bringing in a deer to make sure they are still able to handle the animal.

Only entire carcasses with the hide attached can be donated. Cut and wrapped meat will not be accepted for donation. Hunters and processors must also adhere to specific standards designed to prevent food-borne illness. Processors may only accept carcasses for donation that are:


Free from signs of illness;


Field dressed with the hide intact;


Free of visible decomposition or contamination; and

Properly identified with a Minnesota DNR registration tag.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hwy 113 culvert replacement project begins Oct. 30

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Motorists on Highway 113 near the village of Elbow Lake will experience lane closures and delays starting Tuesday, Oct. 30, during a culvert replacement project.

Traffic will be reduced to a single lane while work is in progress. The project is expected to take about one week.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cold Weather Tips

SAINT PAUL, MN - A long and cold winter is on our doorstep. With temperatures dropping, the Department of Commerce is providing Minnesotans with simple and inexpensive ways to save energy, save money and keep their homes safe this winter.

Minnesota is known for our 10,000 lakes and freezing cold winters,” said Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Consumers can take simple and low-cost measures to save on energy costs and prevent expensive repairs. A small amount of preparation can go to great lengths in leading to more energy efficiency, comfort and safety all winter long.”

The Commerce Department’s Division of Energy Resources is committed to helping Minnesotans make informed decisions about their energy use. In that effort, the Minnesota Department of Commerce encourages all Minnesotans to follow these simple household tips:

· Set your thermostat low; use a programmable thermostat. Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable when you are home and awake. Turn down the temperature about 10 degrees manually or via your programmable thermostat at night when you go to bed and when you’re not at home. This can reduce your heating bill by about 10 percent, or $100 per year.

· Seal air leaks to prevent cold air infiltration around chimneys, vents, pipes, and wires. Plugging air leaks is one of the most cost-effective ways to conserve energy and increase comfort and is the key to preventing ice dams.

· Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when purchasing new household products. ENERGY STAR signifies strict energy efficiency and reliability guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

· Weather strip and caulkwindows and doors to eliminate air infiltration.

· Cover drafty windows with tightly sealed plastic to keep the warm air in.

· Open curtains and blinds on south-facing windows to let the sun in during the day to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.

· Close your fireplace damper when a fire is not in use and install airtight doors to prevent warm air from escaping. If the fireplace is no longer used, seal the flue with an inflatable plug.

· Maintain your heating system. Have your furnace or boiler inspected annually to ensure maximum efficiency and safety, consider replacing mechanical systems if they’re old or inefficient, and clean or replace furnace filters regularly as needed. For wood and pellet-burning heaters, clean the flue vent and the inside of the appliance to improve efficiency.

· Maintain your water heater by turning it down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only will this save energy, it will reduce the chances of scalds.

· Use light-emitting diode or LED holiday light strings to reduce the expense to decorate your home for the winter holidays.

· Take short showers - with low-flow showerheads - to reduce hot water use.

These energy-saving tips were collected from several sources, including the DOE. For more information on energy efficiency and energy conservation, visit the Division of Energy Resources (DER) website and check out two energy guides: “Home Envelope” and “Appliances, Lighting, Electronics” (click on Information Resources > Consumer Guides).

DER recommends advanced energy audits of homes to diagnose the best strategies to save energy. Audits can be facilitated through your electric or gas utility, visit the Minnesota Building Performance Association for a list of certified auditors, or contact nonprofit energy groups such as the Neighborhood Energy Connection.

Monday, October 15, 2012

New penalties for deer baiting

Participants in Minnesota’s firearm deer season will be greeted with new penalties for baiting violations when they go afield Nov. 3.

“It seems that every year our officers are spending more and more time responding to complaints about baiting or discovering it while on patrol,” said Lt. Col. Rodmen Smith, Minnesota DNR Enforcement Division assistant director. “We hope these new penalties curb what has become an all too common violation.”

Deer baiting is placing food near deer stands or clearings with the intent of luring a deer into close shooting range. It has been illegal to bait deer in Minnesota since 1991.

DNR conservation officers issued 144 citations, gave 24 warnings and seized 134 firearms/bows in baiting related investigations during the 2011 bow, firearms and muzzleloader seasons. It’s the highest number of baiting citations issued during the deer hunting seasons since the DNR began tracking these violations in 1991.

The Minnesota Legislature recognized the negative impact of baiting deer and recently passed legislation to increase the penalties for those convicted of baiting deer.

“It was apparent that a fine and forfeiture of a firearm or bow was n ot enough to curtail the activity,” said Smith. “In order to show the seriousness of the offense hunters will be subject to license revocation when convicted of baiting deer.”

The new penalties for baiting:
  • A person may not obtain any deer license or take deer under a lifetime license for one year after the person is convicted of hunting deer with the aid or use of bait. The DNR’s Electronic Licensing System (ELS) will also block a person’s ability to purchase a license. A second conviction within three years would result in a three-year revocation.
  • The revocation period doubles if the conviction is for a deer that is a trophy deer scoring higher than 170 inches.

The fine for illegal baiting is $300, plus $80 or so in court costs. Another $500 can be tagged on for restitution if a deer is seized. Guns may be confiscated as well.

Smith said he is hopeful the new penalties, in addition to fines, restitution and confiscation of guns sends a message that Minnesota values it natural resources and there is a price for engaging in this illegal activity.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Highway 59 detour removal scheduled for Saturday

 DETROIT LAKES, Minn.—Motorists on Highway 59 between Pelican Rapids and Highway 34 will encounter fewer delays when a road construction project detour is removed on Saturday, Oct. 13.

Motorists will still experience delays and lane closures while crews complete shoulder work and striping projects.

All work is scheduled to be completed by late October, weather permitting.

The project included two bridge replacements, new turn lanes and highway resurfacing. The improvements will enhance safety and mobility on the Highway 59 corridor.

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