Monday, January 30, 2012

BBB Warns To Look Out for Super Bowl Scams

Saint Paul, MN – January 30, 2012 – With the Super Bowl just around the corner, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning consumers to be on the alert for knock-off team jerseys, counterfeit memorabilia and phony game tickets.

“There are many good reasons not to buy counterfeit goods, but it boils down largely to issues of theft and quality,” says Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB. “Counterfeit items are essentially stolen goods. And counterfeit items are almost always more cheaply made, which means they won’t last as long as officially licensed merchandise.”

Consumers trying to buy Super Bowl memorabilia online may have an even bigger problem. Some BBBs have received reports of websites that don’t even have merchandise to sell you; they just want your credit card number and personal information in order to defraud you or steal your identity. The best way to ensure you are getting official sports gear is to buy directly from the team or league websites, or from official vendors at the stadium.

Tickets for the big game can be an even bigger rip-off. Though a number of Super Bowl tickets are currently posted for sale on craigslist, the site offers no guarantees and does not require identification of its sellers. Buying in person isn’t always an improvement, as it’s gotten easier for scammers to make fake tickets that look real.

So where can you turn? Stub Hub ( guarantees the authenticity of tickets, and Ticketmaster ( handles ticket exchanges for the NFL.

In general, people can avoid scams by being skeptical of:
· Offers that sound “too good to be true”
· Pushy sales tactics
· Low-quality merchandise
· Any offers that require wire transfer of funds

And always check out a business first at

For more consumer tips you can trust, visit To sign up to receive our Scam Alerts, visit BBB Scam Source at

Region 8A Sub-section Triple A winners.

Winners of the Triple A (Academics, Arts, and Athletics) Awards for Region 8A were announced.

Sub-Section 29
Girl - Katherine Anderson of Nevis High School
Boy - Bryon Schuldt of Nevis High School

Sub-Section 30
Girl - Samantha Lee of Win-E-Mac High School
Boy - Austin D. Ganje of Ada-Borup High School

Sub-Section 31
Girl - Kristen Ranstrom of Warren-Alvarado-Oslo High School
Boy - Garrett Schmitz of Lafayette High School (Red Lake Falls)

Sub-Section 32
Girl - Paige Craigmile of Kittson Central High School
Boy - Davis Mills of Stephen-Argyle-Central High School

These outstanding students will be honored at a banquet at the REA in Thief River Falls on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. At that time the over-all Region winners will be announced.

Section One-Act Play Contest

The Section One-Act Play Contest will be held this Saturday, Feb 4th, in East Grand Forks.

Order of performance & times are as follows:

10:00am Tri-County
10:45am Stephen-Argyle
11:30am Roseau
12:15pm Fosston
1:00pm --- Lunch
1:30pm Bagley
2:15pm Crookston
3:00pm Badger
3:45pm Ada-Borup
4:30pm Awards

Plays could begin later than the designated time, but will NOT begin earlier than the scheduled time.

Friday, January 27, 2012

State Patrol, MnDOT provide easier access to info during winter storms

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Beginning Friday, Jan. 27, the Minnesota State Patrol and Minnesota Department of Transportation will use the Twitter hashtag #mnstorm in all updates about winter storm events. This will make searching for road conditions and traffic information updates faster and easier for the news media.

Follow Twitter updates from State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske (@msppio) and MnDOT (@mndotnews) to get timely information before, during and after winter storms.

To view a list of all winter weather information resources from the Minnesota State Patrol and MnDOT, visit
During winter weather events, the Minnesota State Patrol can provide information about:
- Crash totals (statewide and regional)
- Vehicles off the road (statewide and regional)
- Injuries/fatalities

MnDOT can provide information about:
- Road conditions
- Road closures
- Snowplows on state highways and interstates

To look up the latest road conditions anywhere in Minnesota, go to

Specialty crop growers can apply for grants to boost their businesses

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has received $700,000 in federal funding to help promote and enhance the specialty crop industry. Fruit, vegetable and other specialty crop farmers can apply for Specialty Crop Block Grants to help them compete in today’s marketplace. Grant projects may include outreach to increase consumers’ nutritional knowledge about specialty crops, assistance in the development of good agricultural practices, investment into specialty crop research, development of new and improved seed varieties, and pest and disease control.

MDA Marketing and Development Director Mary Hanks says growers of fruits, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, tree nuts, flowers, and nursery plants are eligible to apply.

“We encourage those in specialty crop production to apply for these grants that support and further promote their industry,” said Hanks. “I’d also encourage industry representatives to attend one of our scheduled workshops to learn more about the application process.”

The workshops will be held on Friday, February 3, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott, 1080 28th Avenue South, Moorhead, and on Monday, February 6, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the MDA offices, 625 North Robert Street, St. Paul.

MDA will accept grant applications through April 20, 2012.

A list of eligible and ineligible commodities can be found at A grant manual is available on the MDA website at

Questions regarding the grant program or the application process can be directed to David Weinand at 651-201-6646 or email

NDSU Offers Farmland Leasing Workshops

Strong commodity prices and high production costs have made it more difficult for operators and landowners to successfully determine appropriate farmland lease arrangements.

Landowners, renters and other agribusiness professionals with an interest in farmland ownership, management and leasing should plan on attending one of nine farmland leasing workshops across North Dakota presented by the North Dakota Extension Service.

The workshops are offered to help landowners and renters identify and manage the risk associated with rental arrangements. Dwight Aakre and Andy Swenson, Extension farm management specialists, and Willie Huot, Grand Forks County Extension agent, will be the main presenters.

The workshops are approximately three hours long. One of the topics is a historical perspective on farmland values and rents, with emphasis on causal factors and future risks. Concepts and practical examples of how to determine equitable rents also will be presented.

The main session will help participants better understand different rental arrangements, such as cash rent, share rent and flexible cash rent.

"There has been increased interest in flexible cash rental arrangements," Swenson says. "This session will show how a flexible cash rent agreement can be designed to try to meet the desired income and risk levels of both the landowner and renter. Examples of various methods of adjusting the cash rent level will be discussed."

There will be a session on how producers can improve their land rental negotiations by enhancing the communication process with landowners. This includes the use of resumes, portfolios and frequent communication to keep landowners informed and educated about the operation and vision for a particular tract of land. Some communication pieces will be showcased as examples.

Dates and locations of the workshops are:

* Jan. 30 - Drake, Knights of Columbus Club, 1 to 4 p.m.

* Feb. 13 - Carrington Research Extension Center, 1 to 4 p.m.

* Feb. 15 - Lisbon, Ransom County Courthouse Community Room, 1 to 4 p.m.

* Feb. 17 - Cooperstown, Country Club, 9 a.m. to noon

* Feb 22 - Watford City, McKenzie County Courthouse, 1 to 4 p.m.

* Feb. 23 - Stanley, Mountrail County Extension Office, 9 a.m. to noon

* Feb. 24 - Minot, North Central Research Extension Center, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

* Feb. 28 - Bismarck State College Career Academy Building multipurpose room, 9
a.m. to noon

* Feb. 29 - Jamestown, Farmers Union state office, 1 to 4 p.m.

Contact your county NDSU Extension agent for more details.

:Source: Andy Swenson, (701) 231-7379,
:Editor: Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Grape Growers Meeting

The North Dakota Grape Growers Association conference and annual meeting will be held at the Radisson Inn in Bismarck on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Several North Dakota State University specialists and others will be presenting at the conference.

Harlene Hatterman-Valenti, NDSU high-value crops specialist, will do a presentation on crop optimization through weed control. Greg Cook, NDSU Chemistry and Biochemistry Department professor and chair, will discuss wine chemistry.

John Stenger, an NDSU graduate student, will discuss the NDSU grape research program and Bob Bertsch, NDSU Agriculture Communication Web technology specialist, will do a presentation on electronic media marketing.

Also featured will be a grower and winery owner question-and-answer panel.

"There is information for the novice grower or wine maker and for the more experienced enologists, too," Hatterman-Valenti says.

Registration opens at 8 a.m., with the meeting beginning at 8:30. The association's annual meeting will be held after the conference ends.

Registration is $60 for members and $70 for nonmembers. Yearly membership fees are $20 per voting member. Meals and refreshments are included in the registration.

OTPC offers tips for portable electric space heaters

Fergus Falls, MN –During winter weather many people use supplemental heaters to add comfort to selected areas in their homes rather than raise overall indoor temperatures. To help ensure efficiency and safety, Otter Tail Power Company offers these tips for buying and using portable electric space heaters.

* Don't fall for claims of added efficiency on overpriced electric space heaters. “All electric space heaters operate at 100 percent efficiency. Because they convert all of the electricity they use to heat, they all are equally efficient. So, don’t fall victim to a scam,” says Theresa Drexler, Senior Market Planning Specialist at Otter Tail Power Company. “Electric room heaters that sell for several hundred dollars are not more energy efficient. Portable heaters of equal wattage w ill cost the same to operate whether the unit’s purchase price is $40 or $400.”

* The only feature of an electric heater that affects the amount of heat the unit can generate is wattage. “A 1,000-watt heater uses 1 kilowatt-hour per hour of operation no matter what type of heater it is,” says Drexler, who adds that heat pumps are the only option that can claim greater efficiency because these units capture free heat from the environment. “Remember, to best manage your costs, operate the lowest total wattage possible to keep you comfortable,” she says. Low-wattage radiant heaters, some rated at just a few hundred watts, also are available for supplemental heat in small spaces such as office workstations. While still hot to the touch, these units do not have fans so they heat only directly in front of them.

* The type of heater you choose can help you feel more comfortable. “For example, an electric heater that distributes warmth from a greater surface area, such as a portable baseboard or a radiator-shaped heater, can increase comfort by distributing heat more evenly. A small fan-forced heater of the same wattage will produce the same amount of heat but at a higher intensity and be more localized. But either will heat your room,” Drexler says.

* Select a portable electric heater that has a thermostat so it doesn't run all the time. “A unit with a thermostat can help maintain a constant temperature and not overheat an area. If using a heater without a thermostat, consider operating it on a timer to avoid wasting energy,” says Drexler.

“A thermostat also may help avoid safety issues should the heater be left on when no one is ho me or attending it,” adds Otter Tail Power Company Safety Services Manager Eric Hamm, who offers this additional safety advice.

* Select the proper wattage for a portable electric space heater so it doesn’t overload your electrical wiring and create a fire safety issue. “Portable electric heaters come in a variety of wattages. The most common are 1,000-watt and 1,500-watt units, and some have low, medium, and high settings. Don’t be tempted to buy a higher-wattage unit because of the additional heat it can deliver unless you know you have adequate capacity in your home wiring,” says Hamm. “The smaller the wattage the less likely it will overload your wiring."

*One sign of an overloaded circuit is blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers.

*If the outlet, or the wall surrounding it, becomes warm after the heater has operated for a while, the wiring is overloaded. Discontinue using that outlet for your heater or consider a lower-wattage heater.

*Do not plug your heater into an electrical circuit that has several other items already served on it.

* Look for a portable electric heater that automatically shuts off if tipped over and that has protective casing over the heating element to avoid the potential for burns.
• Keep portable electric space heaters away from flammable materials such as curtains, bedding, newspapers, etc.
• Make sure that the outlet where you plug in your portable electric space heater is tight fitting.
• Never use a portable electric space heater or any electric appliance near wet areas such as bathtubs and sinks.
• Avoid using an extension cord but, if one is needed, be sure it has at least 12-gauge wire.
• Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure a portable electric space heater is UL labeled.

If you have questions about electrical safety, energy conservation, energy prices, or about how an electric space heater might affect your electric service bill, call Otter Tail Power Company’s Idea Center at 800-493-3299.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 Third Crop Producer Meetings

FAIRMONT, Minn. (01/23/2012) – Join University of Minnesota Extension and Rural Advantage for the 8th annual Third Crop Producer Meetings. “Cover Crops Research and Experiences” will kick-off the 2012 series and will be held at the Knights of Columbus in Fairmont, Minnesota on February 6th. Registration begins at 9:30am. The morning session will be from 10:00am - 12:00pm and the afternoon session will be from 1:00pm - 3:00pm.

“Cover Crops Research and Experiences” will begin with a presentation on the Minnesota Cover Crops Decision Tool. This web-based tool is meant to be used by farmers and other ag professionals to choose cover crop species that will fit into their operation and geographical placement in Minnesota. Jill Sackett, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, was part of the planning committee and will be explaining how to use the Decision Tool.

The remainder of the morning will be led by researchers from the University of Minnesota. Miriam Gieske will be sharing the research she has been conducting around the popular tillage radish. She has been using her research plots to learn more about the agronomics and chemical make-up of this member of the Brassica family. Adam Herges will then discuss the research he has been doing in southeast Minnesota on winter rye as a cover crop. Herges is specifically looking to see if winter rye can reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients that are getting into surface waters. Both research projects have been obtaining useful information for Minnesota farmers.

The afternoon session will open with Dr. Michael Lehman with the USDA-ARS out of Brookings, South Dakota. Dr. Lehman and colleagues have been looking at different aspects of cover crop use in our area of the Midwest. He will specifically be discussing how the use of cover crops affects the make-up of the soil, both from a nutrient and microbial point of view.

Minnesota farmer Carmen Fernholz has been using cover crops for a number of years. He has recently begun working with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to see if the use of cover crops and alfalfa mulch positively affect nitrogen levels in the soil. The idea is to be able to grow your own nitrogen fertilizer on your farm.

To end the day, a Grower Panel has been put together. It consists of farmers from southern Minnesota who have been using cover crops in their rotation. Audience members will have the chance to ask the farmers questions about cover crops in order to gain useful tips and techniques for using them in their own fields or gardens. The panel will include: Carmen Fernholz, an organic grain producer from Madison; Bill Yock, a beef and grain producer from St. James; Ray Yokiel, an organic producer and pilot from Wells; and Jerry Ackermann, a grain and alfalfa producer from Lakefield.

There is no cost to attend Rural Advantage’s 2012 Third Crop Producer Meetings. Pre-registration is not necessary. For those interested in attending from the metro area, carpooling is possible from the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus if there is enough interest. If you would like to carpool, contact Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) – 800-909-6472 or 612-625-8235.

For weather related cancellations, contact the University of Minnesota Extension Farm Information Line at 1-800-232-9077.

Knights of Columbus Hall – 920 East 10th Street – Fairmont, MN 56031
From the South – State Hwy. 15
After the railroad tracks, take the first left at Militello Motors (East 10th Street). The Knights of Columbus Hall is one block west and is on the south side of the street.
From the North – State Hwy. 15
Starting at the Interstate 90 overpass, travel south through two stoplights. Take the next right at Militello Motors (East 10th Street). The Knights of Columbus Hall is one block west and is on the south side of the street.

Contact for this event:
Jill Sackett, UMN Extension / Rural Advantage, 507-238-5449

Source: Jill Sackett - Extension Educator, Conservation Agronomist with University of Minnesota Extension / Rural Advantage, Fairmont, MN

HCSCC seeks Community Input for a New Exhibit

Moorhead, Minn., Jan. 24, 2012 – The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC) is seeking community input for a new exhibit featuring Hjemkomst voyage artifacts. The exhibit, which is currently under development, opens during the Hjemkomst Voyage 30th Anniversary Celebration on July 21, 2012 from 1 – 5 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through Dec. 31, 2012.

The HCSCC has hired Claudia M. Pratt of CMP Consulting for the research and design phase of the exhibit development. The exhibit will bring a fresh perspective about the Hjemkomst expedition. Pratt hopes the public can look at this exhibit with new eyes and be amazed again at what an accomplishment the expedition was— for the Asp family, the voyage crew, as well as the businesses and communities that supported it.

“The goal of this exhibit is to uncover information that adds to the story we’ve enjoyed for 30 years. I think what fascinates me is that it really took an enormous amount of community support in order to make this happen—a lot of personal sacrifice and perseverance. It’s time to revisit that and get back to Bob Asp’s core ‘Dare to Dream’ message and what the expedition accomplished,” Pratt says.

The HCSCC encourages the public to share their thoughts on what they would like to see in the new Hjemkomst exhibit by leaving their ideas in a comment book, which is located nearby the ship in the Hjemkomst Center. The HCSCC will also post stories, questions and information about the Hjemkomst ship and voyage on their new blog at You may also contact Claudia M. Pratt at or 701-371-7277 if you would like to share your story about the Hjemkomst and voyage or have recommendations for the new exhibit.

Farm Managers Meeting

The Northwest Farm Managers Association has organized its 103rd annual meeting for producers and others interested in agriculture.

The meeting will take place on Feb. 8 at the Holiday Inn in Fargo. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and the program at 9.

The featured speaker is Jolene Brown from West Branch, Iowa. Brown will provide insights and practical ideas to improve farm family communications. Brown is a farmer, author and award-winning communicator. With humor, she explains the challenges facing parents, siblings and in-laws who work together. She will provide take-home tools to increase productivity and peace of mind. Her presentation is titled "The Top 10 Stupid Things Families Do to Break Up Their Business."

Scott Stofferahn, aide to U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and former North Dakota Farm Service Agency executive director, will provide an update on federal farm policy. Kathy Neset, Neset Consulting Service, will explain the why, how and potential of North Dakota's oil and gas resources.

State Sen. Larry Luick of North Dakota will explain legislation that streamlined the process of obtaining drainage permits. Virgil Robinson, a market analyst from Des Moines, Iowa, will provide a market outlook and strategies for soybeans, corn and wheat.

The registration fee is $50, payable at the door. The fee includes a noon banquet and breaks. For more information, go to or call (701) 231-7393.

MnDOT seeks public input for Transportation Plan

ST. PAUL, Minn. –The public, transportation stakeholders and local government officials are invited to provide input for Minnesota’s 20-year Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan at one of nine upcoming open houses statewide.

• Jan. 30 in Duluth—ARDC Office, 221 First St. W., Duluth, Minn.
• Jan. 31 in Crookston—MnDOT Crookston Office, 1320 Sunflower St., Crookston, Minn.
• Feb. 1 in Moorhead—Hjemkomst Center, 202 First Ave. N., Moorhead, Minn.
• Feb. 2 in St. Cloud—MnDOT St. Cloud Office, 3725 12th St. N., St. Cloud, Minn.
• Feb. 8 in Minneapolis—University of Minnesota Urban Research & Outreach-Engagement Center, 2001 Plymouth Ave. N., Minneapolis, Minn.
• Feb. 9 in Maplewood—Maplewood Community Center, 2100 White Bear Ave., Maplewood, Minn.
• Feb. 13 (revised date) in Mankato—MnDOT Mankato Office, 2151 Bassett Drive, Mankato, Minn.
• Feb. 15 in Marshall—Marshall Library, 201 C St., Marshall, Minn.
• Feb. 16 in Rochester—Rochester Public Library, 101 Second St. SE, Rochester, Minn.

All meetings will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. A brief presentation will be given at 4:30 p.m. and repeated at 6 p.m. Attendees may come and go at any time.

Those unable to attend in-person have the option to participate in an online webinar via Adobe Connect Feb. 6, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For details, visit

Topics covered will include the recently adopted Minnesota GO vision for transportation, current transportation system, future challenges and opportunities facing transportation, draft plan objectives and strategies and how the plan will be used.

Minnesota’s 20-year Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan establishes overarching guidance and priorities for making state transportation decisions across all modes of transportation. The open houses will provide Minnesotans with an opportunity to learn about the current multimodal system, the challenges we will face in the future, and how we can address those challenges. The public is also invited to provide feedback on draft transportation objectives and planning strategies.
To request an interpreter (ASL or other language) or other reasonable accommodation, call Janet Miller at 651-366-4720 or 1-800-657-3774 (Greater Minnesota); 711 or 1-800-627-3529 (Minnesota Relay). Alternatively, send an email to Please request at least one week in advance.
Gathering input for the 20-year Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan is an important next step in turning Minnesota GO, the recently adopted 50-year transportation vision, into reality. Minnesota GO aims to better align the state’s transportation system with what Minnesotans expect for their quality of life, economy and natural environment.

In addition to the public open houses, there will be a public comment period and a public hearing in March or April after the draft plan is available. The final plan is scheduled for adoption this spring. Updates to state plans for highways, rail, aviation, transit, freight and non-motorized transportation will follow.

For more information on the project, visit or follow the plan on Twitter, @minnesotago, and Facebook,

For more information, contact Kirby Becker, MnDOT Office of Statewide Multimodal Planning, at 651-366-3740 or

FAQ about farmers’ markets answered at upcoming conference

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association’s (MFMA) 2012 spring conference is a great venue to learn just about everything about the farmers’ market business. The conference will be held Thursday, March 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Waite Park, Minnesota. This will be a full day of educational sessions presented by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), as well as one-on-one consultations, mentoring and networking opportunities, and prizes!

Conference sessions will cover a variety of topics such as Review Your Insurance Policy; Consult with an Advisor; Set up a Website or Social Media Account; Understand 2012 Legislative Changes; Tax Considerations & Food Safety Requirements; Create an Effective Product Display; Manage Conflict; and Map Your Assets.
All current and prospective farmers’ market representatives, growers, specialty craft producers, and those promoting food assistance and nutrition programs eating are encouraged to attend.

The conference location is the American Legion Silver Star Post 428, 17 2nd Avenue North in Waite Park. Registration and refreshments will begin at 8:30 a.m. and a lunch, with food contributions from local producers, will be provided onsite. Interested exhibitors should email for pricing and availability.

Online attendee registration is available at Significant discounts are offered when pre-registering by March 1.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rib King “Famous Dave” Anderson comes to UMC on Thursday, Feb 2nd

CROOKSTON, Minn. Dave Anderson, better known as “Famous Dave” and founder of Famous Dave’s Legendary Real Pit Barbecue, will be at the University of Minnesota, Crookston on Thursday, February 2, 2012. Sponsored by the Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies, Anderson will speak at 12 p.m. in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center. The public is invited to attend; there is no admission charge.

Anderson, a highly sought after keynote speaker, has shared his business success secrets and leadership insights with millions throughout the United States and Canada. His incredible real life story of overcoming tremendous odds, adversity, and failure create one of America’s best-loved restaurant companies. With passion, energy, and enthusiasm Anderson shares how he overcame his own personal challenges. As a Native American, he is devoted to making a difference in the community and in the lives of others less fortunate.

With over 180 restaurants and growing, Famous Dave’s has received unprecedented recognition as one of the “Hottest Concepts in America” by Nation’s Restaurant News reaching over $480 million in sales. Anderson has helped found several publicly traded companies on Wall Street creating over 20,000 new jobs and billions in sales.

Anderson is part of the speakers series sponsored by the Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies (CRES). Funded through a grant from the Department of Education, CRES assists entrepreneurs in Northwestern Minnesota with the development and creation of their entrepreneurial enterprise. CRES, located on the Crookston campus, serves eleven counties including Beltrami, Clearwater, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau. The services offered are based on the client's needs.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Legal truck weight load increases begin Jan. 23 in Twin Cities & southern MN

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Allowable winter load limits on highways in the Twin Cities metro area, south and southeast frost zones will increase up to 10 percent at 12:01 a.m., Monday, Jan. 23, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The frost zone in the Twin Cities metro area includes Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties. This zone does not include Highway 19 along the southern borders of Scott and Dakota counties.

The southern frost zone’s boundaries extend south from the southern limit of the central zone (Highway 12 to the Hennepin County line) to the Iowa state line, east to the Metro zone and then a line following and including Interstate 35. This zone includes Highway 19 along the southern border of Scott County.

The southeast frost zone’s boundaries extend south from the southern limit of the Twin Cities metro zone along, but not including, Interstate 35 to the Iowa state line and east to the Wisconsin state line. This zone includes Highway 19 along the southern border of Dakota County.

Winter truck weight load increases were previously announced on the following dates for these frost zones:
• North — Dec. 12
• North-central — Dec. 26
• Central — Jan. 21

Vehicles will be allowed to carry up to 10 percent more weight than the standard legal maximum loads on unrestricted highways during the winter load increase period. However, trucks must comply with current registration weight laws and not exceed registered gross weight limits.
MnDOT advises that haulers check with local agencies (cities, counties and townships) prior to increasing any weights on their routes. Signs erected on a roadway govern the load limit in effect.

A winter weight increase permit is required to take advantage of the up to 10 percent weight increase on interstate highways.
For information about legal weight/size trucking, call the Minnesota Department of Public Safety at 651-405-6171 (select Option 3, Option 3). For information about over legal weight/size heavy haul trucking, call MnDOT at 651-296-6000.

Load increases are permitted because pavements achieve increased strength to carry heavier loads when their sub-grades freeze.

For the most current information, call MnDOT’s automated 24-hour message center at 800-723-6543 for the U. S. and Canada or 651-366-5400 in the Twin Cities metro area. For more information on MnDOT’s seasonal load limits, visit

Awards recognize contributions to human services clients

DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson honored professionals and organizations from across the state today, citing their outstanding contributions to human services program clients. Eleven individuals and organizations were recipients of the DHS Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards. The award recipients were recognized at a ceremony at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building in St. Paul.

Jesson said the Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Award winners stand out among the many individuals and organizations on the front lines throughout the state, providing critical human services programs and promoting healthy and productive communities.

“These award winners are outstanding examples of how, collectively, we foster healthy people, stable families and strong communities,” Jesson said. “By shining a light on their work, we honor all our partners in human services.”

The 11 2011 DHS Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Award recipients are:
• Larene Randle, parent advocate, Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, St. Paul. Randle has served on various advisory boards to bring the voice of a parent who has been involved with the child protection system to the table. She also is involved in many parent outreach and education efforts.

• Patricia Nordahl, former executive director, Cooperation Station Inc., Grand Marais. Longtime child care provider Nordahl not only served as director of an innovative child care center but assisted with efforts to develop the Parent Aware child care rating system. She advised DHS on its federal Child Care Development Fund Plan and serves on the Governor’s Early Learning Council.

• Courage Center, health care home for people with disabilities, Golden Valley. For the past two years, Courage Center has provided a health care home, coordinating the primary care needs of its clients with physical disabilities. The project was initially funded by a grant from DHS and has received high satisfaction ratings from participants.

• White Earth Home Health, home care and long-term care consultation, White Earth. Serving the White Earth Nation for more than 25 years, agency staff provide skilled nurse visits, home-delivered meals, nutrition education and Long-Term Care Consultation. Many of their clients have chronic health care needs, such as diabetes.

• West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Food Support outreach, Elbow Lake. By collaborating with the University of Minnesota’s Simply Good Eating Program and local food shelves, the agency provides Food Support application assistance, nutrition education and cooking classes for residents of Douglas, Grant, Traverse, Stevens and Pope counties. The agency has been a successful partner in efforts to raise awareness and increase participation in the federal Food Support program.

• Mary Regan, executive director, Minnesota Council of Child Caring Agencies, St. Paul. Regan has helped lead innovations and reform in children’s mental health and child welfare for more than a decade. She served as chair of the Child and Adolescent Intensive Services workgroup, helping to write a report to the Minnesota Legislature on service capacity and needs.

• Empira, falls prevention program, Eden Prairie. Using a DHS Performance-based Incentive Payment Program (PIPP) grant, Empira implemented a comprehensive program with falls prevention strategies and post-falls management interventions aimed at improving the health and safety of nursing facility residents and reducing costs.

• Affiliated Community Medical Centers - Litchfield East Clinic, optimal diabetes care, Litchfield. Clinic staff have taken a team approach to providing care to the growing client population with diabetes. The Minnesota Community Measurement Health Care Disparities Report noted that the clinic’s rate for optimal diabetes care was higher than the average clinic rate for Minnesota Health Care Programs enrollees.

• Recovery Resource Center, integrated dual diagnosis chemical dependency treatment, Minneapolis. Center staff work closely with clients, many of whom are homeless, who have complex conditions, providing dual mental illness and chemical dependency treatment, relapse prevention and treatment for mothers with dependent children.

• Bao Vang, president and chief executive officer, Hmong American Partnership, St. Paul. Vang has been a contributor to the DHS Disparities Reduction Advisory Committee and has been an advocate for small, culturally based agencies. As the leader of a growing social services agency that serves the Hmong and other communities, she has been instrumental in its success.

• In Reach Social Worker Initiative, a partnership of South Country Health Alliance, Owatonna Hospital, South Central Human Relations Center, Steele, Waseca and Dodge counties. Based out of Owatonna Hospital, a social worker works closely with frequent emergency department users to provide better service and more appropriate community-based care at a lesser cost.

Request for Proposals: Women’s Fund Grants and Scholarships

The Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund is calling for funding proposals for programs and services that benefit women and girls within the twelve county Northwest Minnesota Foundation service area.
Counties served by NMF are Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau.

Grant Program
The Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund develops resources and serves as a catalyst for improving the quality of life for women and girls. They envision a region where women and girls reach their full potential and work toward that end through grants, scholarships, education, and recognition programs.

The Women’s Fund will consider grant applications for up to $2,500. To qualify for consideration, applications must support the mission and vision of the Women’s Fund. Priority will be given to applications that support the Women’s Fund goals:
1. Developing entrepreneurial and economic opportunities for women
2. Supporting programs that lead to a safer environment for women and girls
3. Building networks of women in leadership positions throughout the region
4. Encouraging and equipping women and girls to achieve their full potential

Grant funds can be used for speakers, educational materials, program delivery expenses, research projects, and for professional development. Grant funds are not available for scholarships (higher education).
Criteria for selection:
• Relationship of the project to Women’s fund mission and goals (as stated above)
• Evidence of grassroots support involving women
• Identified purpose and need for project
• Clear goals and action steps for completing the project
• Description of working relationship(s) with other partner(s) and/or funding sources
• Potential long-term impact of the project
• Evidence of an evaluation plan

Scholarships for Women
Contingent upon fundraising, the Women’s Fund will offer scholarships to women from the 12 counties in the Women’s Fund service area who are pursuing post-secondary education at a public higher education institution in the area (Bemidji State University, Northwest Technical College in Bemidji, Northland Community and Technical College at Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks, the University of Minnesota Crookston, and the White Earth Tribal College).

Preference will be given to women who intend to remain in the region upon graduation. Scholarship funds are to be used for tuition and books or direct educational material expenses.

As advised by a donor, one scholarship is designated for a woman attending the University of Minnesota, Crookston, with preference given to an older than average woman student.

The deadline for submission of proposals and scholarship applications is March 1, 2012. The grants will be awarded by July 30. The grant and scholarship applications and guidelines are available on the NMF web site (Designated Component Funds/NW MN Women’s Fund), or contact Peggy at 218-759-2057 or 800-659-7859, e-mail

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I-29 Dairy Conference Set for Feb. 8-9

The seventh annual I-29 Dairy Conference will be held Feb. 8-9 at the Best Western Ramkota Inn and Conference Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.

This year's conference will focus on current and future global dairy issues.

Extension Service dairy specialists from North Dakota State University, Iowa State University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Nebraska and South Dakota State University coordinate the event. Others involved in coordinating the conference include the Midwest Dairy Association and Southwest Minnesota Dairy Profit Group.

Conference topics include sustainability, long-range weather forecasting, feed costs, managing risk and seizing opportunities, and the Midwest's economic resiliency. Speakers include Neil Baker, a dairy producer and sustainable agriculture award winner from Somerset, England; Mark Seeley, University of Minnesota climatologist; Dave Casper, an assistant professor at South Dakota State University; Marin Bozic, dairy economist with the University of Minnesota; Stan Erwine, vice president of producer relations for Dairy Management Inc., Rosemont, Ill.; Clinton Anderson, a partner in Bain & Co. Inc., Irving, Texas; and a panel of producers and industry stakeholders.

Registration for the full conference is $30, including dinner and Erwine and Anderson's keynote presentation on Feb 8 and sessions on Feb. 9. More information and the full program schedule are available at FINAL.pdf. Register by Feb. 1 to ensure room availability at the Ramkota Inn and Conference Center by calling (605) 336-0650.

The Milk Producers Association of North Dakota has agreed to co-sponsor attendance and will pay the $30 registration fee for each North Dakota member attending the conference.

MN Tourism Conference to be held in Rochester

With continuing, modest growth in travel projected for 2012, the annual Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, to be held January 24-25 at Kahler Grand Hotel in Rochester, will feature a variety of strategies to attract visitors. Governor Mark Dayton will address the conference on Wednesday.

"There's renewed consumer interest in leisure, group and international travel, and the tourism industry is looking ahead to a year of gradual improvement" explains John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state's travel promotion office. "The conference is an opportunity for those who work for tourism businesses and organizations to exchange ideas and get inspired. Explore Minnesota works closely with the tourism industry, developing partnerships to grow travel sales and jobs throughout the state."

The 2012 "More to Explore" advertising campaign and other marketing programs will be introduced. To prepare the Minnesota tourism industry to make the most of the recovering economy and growing travel market, the conference will also focus on strategies for developing new business, including marketing through new social media, drawing visitors through special events and deals, attracting visitors to trails, and working effectively with travel media.

Major speakers include Stan Gadek, CEO of Sun Country Airlines; Dave Serino of Think! Social Media; and Stevie Ray, corporate trainer and columnist for the Business Journal Newspapers. On Tuesday evening, the Explore Minnesota Awards Banquet will honor several individuals for their contributions to the tourism industry and several organizations for their outstanding marketing programs.

The conference draws participants from Minnesota's diverse tourism industry, including chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus, museums and other attractions, hotels, resorts and other lodging businesses. See for the complete conference agenda and registration information.

MN receives an additional money for Energy Assistance Program

ST. PAUL, MN – Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced today that Minnesota will receive an additional $29.2 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP). That brings the state’s total federal allocation this winter season to $116.8 million.

“We have already been able to help more than 116,000 Minnesota families with energy assistance this winter, and this added funding will enable us to help thousands of families still on the waiting list,” said Commissioner Rothman. “These additional funds come at a crucial time for low-income families who are struggling to pay their heating bills as we head into the coldest part of winter.”

EAP helps low-income households pay their heating bills through grant money paid directly to the utility company on behalf of the customer. The Minnesota Department of Commerce allocates these funds to 36 local service providers who work with households to distribute assistance.

Last year, Minnesota served 172,065 households with $152 million in federal funds. With the $116.8 million Minnesota has received this year – taking into account adjustments made to average household assistance – the Commerce Department estimates it will serve roughly 190,000 Minnesota households this winter.

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. The average household income of families enrolled in the program is around $16,000 per year.

“Many Minnesota families are barely managing in this challenging economy. EAP can help these families – particularly senior citizens, families with young children, and disabled Minnesotans – avoid the difficult choice between buying food and medicine, or paying their heating bill,” said Rothman.

Commissioner Rothman strongly encourages Minnesotans who need help to apply for assistance as soon as possible. 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.

DNR Enforcement names new operations manager

Captain Phil Meier, a 34-year veteran of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, was recently promoted to major and named the Division of Enforcement’s operations manager.

The operations manager directs the division’s field operations, which includes public contacts and field response, customer service, human-wildlife management conflict, and law enforcement.

Major Meier began his career with the DNR in 1976 with Fisheries before becoming a conservation officer in 1990.

In 1995 he was promoted to lieutenant and served as a district supervisor in Mille Lacs Lake, Park Rapids, and Fergus Falls before being promoted to captain and DNR’s southern region enforcement supervisor at New Ulm in 2009.

Meier succeeds Lt. Col. Rodmen Smith who was recently promoted to assistant director of DNR Enforcement.

Free Paint Available for Community Restoration Projects

BEMIDJI, MN—Jan. 18, 2012— A fresh coat of paint can make a remarkable difference in the appearance of community structures, neighborhood facilities and parks. While adding to a sense of civic pride, this agreeable task is again being made very affordable. For the 15th consecutive year, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation (NMF) announces the availability of free paint for community fix-up and restoration projects.
In partnership with the Valspar Corporation and the Minnesota Beautiful Program, help will be given to towns and organizations to obtain the paint and other coating materials required for selected projects.

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

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

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

This year, Valspar and NMF are requiring applicants to submit tax-exempt qualifying documentation. In addition, projects using less than 10 gallons of paint will not be considered and all projects must be able to be completed within the calendar year.

Minnesota Beautiful applications are due by Tuesday, March 6th, by 5:00 PM, with awards announced on March 28th. Applications are available for downloading at, or by calling NMF at 218-759-2057 or 800-659-7859.

“Many towns and organizations will compete for this chance to renew or preserve a community asset,” said Vyskocil. “We encourage all applications and appreciate the spirit shown for the projects.”
The Northwest Minnesota Foundation invests resources, creates opportunities and promotes philanthropy to make the region a better place to live and work.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2012 Dairy Cow College Dates Set

Sustainability, global issues and controlling feed costs are among the topics for the 2012 Dairy Cow College sessions.

Dairy Cow College is a joint educational effort of the North Dakota State University Extension Service and Midwest Dairy Association (MDA) in cooperation with the NDSU Animal Sciences Department and Barnes, Dunn, Emmons, McHenry, McIntosh, Morton, Oliver, Stark/Billings, Stutsman and Ward County Extension offices.

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

* Jan. 30: KEM Electric Cooperative, Linton

* Jan. 31: Elks Lodge, Dickinson

* Feb. 1: Youth Building, Morton County Fairgrounds, New Salem

* Feb. 2: Sandhills Dairy, Towner

* Feb. 3: Gladstone Inn and Suites, Jamestown

All of the sessions will begin with registration and coffee at 10:30 a.m. local time and run from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Other major topics for this year's Dairy Cow College are the cow of the future, the role of genomics, food safety and social issues, automated milking systems, the dairy industry's carbon footprint, crisis management and managing labor on a dairy operation.

NDSU Extension dairy specialist J.W. Schroeder will be the presenter at this year's sessions.

Other activities will include American Dairy Association and MDA district meetings, presentations on current dairy topics and a question-and-answer

For more information about Dairy Cow College, contact Schroeder at (701) 231-7663 or or the following Extension agents:

* Linton -- Connie Job, (701) 254-4811,, or Crystal Schaunaman, (701) 288-3465,

* Dickinson - Kurt Froelich, (701) 456-7665,, or Becky Buchmann, (701) 764-5593,

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

* Towner - Raquel Dugan-Dibble, (701) 537-5405,, or Paige Brummund, (701) 857-6444,

* Jamestown - Lance Brower, (701) 252-9030,, or Randy Grueneich, (701) 845-8528,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Clearwater Health Services to Join with Sanford Health

(Bagley, MN) - Today the Clearwater County Board in Bagley, MN announced that they have signed a definitive agreement with Sanford Health to purchase the operations of Clearwater Health Services (CHS). This fall the two organizations announced a letter of intent to join and this is one of the final steps in that process. The agreement will be finalized effective Feb. 1, 2012, pending approval by the Sanford Health Board of Trustees.

“This is a time of great change in health care, but also a time of great opportunity. It is often what brings us to together, that sets us apart. Both Clearwater Health Services and Sanford have long legacies of providing care in northern Minnesota, says Paul Hanson, President Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota. “Together we can much more efficiently assess the healthcare delivery system in our region”

Clearwater Health Services will then be known as Sanford Bagley. Sanford Bagley includes Sanford Bagley Medical Center in Bagley, with the attached Sanford Bagley Clinic; the Sanford Bagley Ambulance Service; and the Sanford Bagley Clearbrook Clinic in Clearbrook, Minn. Sanford Bagley will have a total of 7 physicians and advanced practice providers and over 80 staff. Over the next few months a local advisory board will also be forming.

“Sanford’s philosophy is to provide access to quality healthcare for patients, close to home,” says John Nelson, Clearwater County Board Chair. “This partnership with Sanford will supply us with expertise needed and provide a stable environment for patients and staff in our communities.”

Sanford Health includes 34 hospitals, 116 clinic locations and more than 1,000 physicians in 70 specialty areas of medicine. With more than 20,000 employees, Sanford Health is the largest rural, not-for-profit health care system in the nation with locations in 112 communities in seven states. In addition, Sanford Health is in the process of developing international clinics in Ireland, Africa, Israel and Mexico. The healthcare system is experiencing dynamic growth and development in conjunction with Denny Sanford's $400 million gift in 2007, the largest gift ever to a health care organization in America. This gift is making possible the implementation of the several initiatives including global children's clinics, multiple research centers, eradicating breast cancer and finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. For more information, visit

Western MN Regional Science Fair Feb 11th at UMC

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Students will have the opportunity to showcase their science projects and compete at the 63rd Annual Western Minnesota Regional Science Fair to be hosted at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. The science fair slated for February 11, 2012, in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center is for students in the Western Minnesota Region which includes the counties of Big Stone, Becker, Clay, Grant, Mahnomen, Norman, Otter Tail, Polk, Traverse and Wilkins.

Entries and required forms for projects must be postmarked by Monday, January 30, 2012. Papers must be postmarked absolutely no later than Friday, January 27, 2012. Mail forms/papers to Western MN Regional Science Fair, c/o Katy Smith, University of Minnesota, Crookston, 2900 University Ave., Crookston, Minn., 56716. All forms, fee information, and additional details about the science fair are available at

Registration and project set-up begin at 8 a.m. the day of the competition with judging at 10 a.m. The public is invited to view the projects from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. The event culminates with an awards ceremony at 2 p.m.
The regional science fairs are a learning opportunity for students in middle school or high school interested in science, technology, engineering and math. They also provide selected students the chance to compete for prizes at the State Science & Engineering Fair in March. Besides competing, the science fairs are a chance for participants to present and to engage in dialogue about their research. Evaluation is based on four criteria: the process of science; effectiveness of communication; context of the project and their scope of understanding (

UMC Chancellor Charles H Casey announces retirement

Crookston, Minn. - University of Minnesota, Crookston, Chancellor Charles H. Casey, D.V.M., announced today that he plans to retire at the end of the 2011–12 academic year. Casey has been UMC chancellor since September 2005 and has held other University leadership roles over nearly 35 years, including serving as a member of the Board of Regents and as dean and director of University of Minnesota Extension.

Casey, whose last day as chancellor will be June 30, 2012, made the announcement during his “state of the campus” address to the UMC community. He expressed pride in the growth of the campus during his tenure, citing accomplishments including new programs, gains in enrollment and diversity, strategic facility investments, and completion of a comprehensive strategic plan.

“This is the right time for me to step down after a long and satisfying career,” said Casey. This is a time of significant challenges for higher education, but by most measures, the University of Minnesota, Crookston is thriving and well positioned for further growth. I have great confidence in the future under the leadership of University President Eric Kaler.”

Casey added, “I will always be grateful for the support I’ve received. The faculty and staff of the University of Minnesota, Crookston are incredibly talented and committed to the campus as well as to the success of our students.”

University Senior Vice President Robert J. Jones, who with Kaler oversees the University’s four coordinate campuses, said Tuesday that plans for a national search for Casey’s replacement will be announced soon, with the goal of having a new chancellor on board at Casey’s departure.

“Chancellor Casey has been an exceptional leader for the Crookston campus and for the greater University,” said Jones, who was on campus for Casey’s address. “He has steered the campus to a new level of excellence as a teaching and applied research hub for northwestern Minnesota.”

“Chuck’s contributions to the entire University and state have been significant, including his leadership for UMC, Extension, and on the Board of Regents,” said Kaler. “I thank him for his exemplary service and look forward to working with him to ensure a smooth transition for the Crookston campus.”

During Casey’s tenure, the campus added several new degree programs, including bachelor’s degrees in biology, criminal justice, environmental sciences, marketing, and software engineering. The number of online degree programs, and student enrollment in such programs, expanded significantly, with an emphasis on high-quality educational services for nontraditional or continuing students, community organizations, and the workforce. In 2009, the campus also became home to an online-learning support and referral center serving the entire University system.

The Crookston campus saw significant enrollment gains including four consecutive years of record high enrollment. The number of degree-seeking students hit an all-time record of 1,600 for fall semester 2011, a 52 percent enrollment increase over the six-year period from 2005 to 2011. Two new residence halls, Centennial Hall (2006) and Evergreen Hall (2009), were built to accommodate the influx of students. Casey said that securing approval from the Board of Regents for construction of an additional residence hall will be a priority during his final semester as chancellor.

The diversity of the UMC student body also grew under Casey’s leadership, with increased enrollment of both students of color and international students. In fall 2011, students of color represented approximately 11 percent of the student body, compared with 8 percent prior to Casey’s arrival in 2005. International students were 9 percent of the student body in 2011, compared with just under 3 percent. Agreements that Casey signed with schools in Korea and China accounted for much of the international growth; overall, UMC now welcomes students from 30 countries and 40 states.

Casey, who holds a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, was a two-term member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, from 1979 to 1991 (from 1989 to 1991 as chair). Prior to his appointment as chancellor, he served six and a half years as dean and director of University of Minnesota Extension; before that, he spent seven years as director of outreach services for the University's College of Veterinary Medicine. He was the vice chair of the North Central Extension Directors and served on the University of Minnesota Foundation Board, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute Advisory Board, and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development Board.

Early in his career, Dr. Casey served as a captain in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, worked for 27 years as a practitioner in rural veterinary medicine, and was a partner in the Dodge Veterinary Clinic in West Concord and Dodge Center, Minnesota. He is a lifetime member of both the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association. He has served on a number of local volunteer organizations.

He is a member of Phi Zeta Honor Society of Veterinary Medicine and Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture, and has received awards including the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota, Director’s Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota Extension Service, Torch & Shield Award from the University of Minnesota, Crookston, and Minnesota Veterinarian of the Year.

Casey is married to Barbara Muesing and has three adult children and three grandchildren.

Radon Awareness

January is radon awareness month. Radon is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. In fact, radon kills more than 20,000 Americans each year.

Listen here for more

Friday, January 13, 2012

Consumers, parents and others sought for state mental health boards

The State Advisory Council on Mental Health and the Subcommittee on Children's Mental Health are accepting applications for membership through Feb. 6.

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. Every two years, the council and subcommittee file a formal report of their recommendations to the Governor and Legislature. As a federally mandated council, the council also provides input on the state’s mental health system for the federal government. The council also assists in coordinating the work of local advisory councils.

Terms of membership are four years. The following positions are up for appointment:

State Advisory Council:

Three consumers of mental health services
Two family members of persons with mental illnesses
A parent of a child with an emotional disturbance
A representative of the discipline of psychology
A representative of the discipline of nursing
A metro county commissioner

Children’s Subcommittee:

Two parents of a child with an emotional disturbance
A person knowledgeable about the needs of children who have emotional disturbances of minority races and cultures
A hospital-based provider of children’s mental health services
A provider of mental health services for pre-adolescent children
A present or former consumer of adolescent mental health services
A rural county commissioner
A state legislator

Any Minnesotan is eligible for membership. Appointments to the State Advisory Council are made by the Governor; appointments to the Children’s Subcommittee are made by the State Advisory Council.

The council and subcommittee meet on the first Thursday of the month in St. Paul. In addition to reimbursement for travel, lodging, and meal expense, there is a per diem payment of $55 per meeting.

Applications are available the Secretary of State’s Office at, Open Commissions and Appointments. You may now apply online at

Applications should be received by February 6.

If you have questions, contact Bruce Weinstock at or 651-431-2249.

Minnesota Department of Revenue launches BETA website

St. Paul – The Minnesota Department of Revenue wants to make it easier for Minnesotans to file and pay their taxes. To do that, the department is overhauling its website. The test version (or BETA) of the new website is up and running. Now, it’s up to the taxpayers to make it even better.

“An updated, easy-to-navigate website is one way we are enhancing customer service and improving how state government works,” Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans said. “We want your help in building a site that makes it easy for you to find the information and services you need, so please take a look around and send us your feedback.”

Taxpayers should visit the BETA site and send in suggestions to make the new website as user-friendly as possible. Go to, then:

·Click on the “Rate this Page” link found on the bottom right of every page

·Email us at

The final version of the new website debuts in May. It will feature updated information, improved search options and a fresh look and feel. Taxpayer feedback, as well as surveys, studies and test runs by real users were instrumental in upgrading the website and will be ongoing until the final site launches in May.

The BETA site will stay up for public evaluation through April, and the department will roll out improvements throughout that time. There will be periodic updates, and the site might be down for short periods. Scheduled updates are posted at The site is best viewed by supported browsers and may not work on all mobile devices at this time. View the system requirements page for more information.

Access the BETA site directly at or from the current home page,

Advanced Crop Advisers Workshop Set for Feb. 9-10 in Fargo

The Advanced Crop Advisers Workshop is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Feb. 9-10, at the Holiday Inn in Fargo.

The workshop is designed to provide in-depth discussion of selected topics for agricultural professionals to enhance their crop production recommendations for farmers.

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

"This is the 20th year of the event," says Greg Endres, NDSU Extension area agronomist and event co-chair. "The agenda has been expanded this year and the planning committee is working hard to provide a high-quality program for crop advisers."

The slate of speakers includes regional and national experts discussing subjects including corn, nematodes and sulfur.

On Feb. 9, educational sessions are:

* Nematodes of soybean and corn: Recognizing the risk and tapping into the right management tools

* Sulfur: It's not just for canola anymore

* Biomass crops for producing energy

* Smartphones, sensors and satellites! -- Oh my! Navigating through the technology jungle

* CSI (crop scene investigation): Your client's field problem

On Feb. 10, educational sessions are:

* Using the east to improve corn in the west

* In-depth nitrogen

* A soybean pathology update for the region

* Tiling insights

* Seed traits innovation: What's next?

Preregistration is requested. The workshop fee is $140 if received by Feb. 3 or $75 if attending one day. Late registration fees are $175 or $100 for one day. The fee includes three meals and breaks, a padfolio and numerous references. Certified crop advisers will have the opportunity to receive 11 continuing education units.

A brochure that contains workshop details, including a preregistration form, is at Electronic registration and credit card payment can be made at

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

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sweet Adelines International

TULSA, Okla., Jan. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Sweet Adelines International is one of the world's largest music education associations for women. Members extend over five continents and belong to more than 500 choruses. This month, choruses from all over the globe are teaching the world to sing by participating in an organization-wide Global Open House event.

Women of all ages who enjoy singing are invited to find and visit a Sweet Adelines International chorus during the month of January.

Sweet Adelines International endows nearly 23,000 members with the mastery of singing barbershop harmony. This style of music is defined as unaccompanied, close-harmony singing produced by four parts: lead, tenor, baritone and bass. The a cappella style and the ear training necessary for independent part singing make it one of the most challenging and rewarding accomplishments of a vocal ensemble. When the music is sung accurately and with good breath support and vocal techniques, barbershop harmony produces overtone vibrations that create a resonant ring unique to this form of music.

Local choruses are the laboratories where members receive basic training in barbershop harmony. Programs are designed to inspire women to reach their full singing potential. Any woman of average singing ability, with or without vocal training, will find a part that fits her voice range.

Members enjoy unlimited training and educational opportunities as well as spectacular performance, entertainment and competition possibilities. It's a rich, rewarding experience to sing with a worldwide community of friends who value the joy of singing four-part, a cappella harmony.

To find a local chorus and for more information about Sweet Adelines International, call toll-free 1.800.992.7464 or 918.622.1444, email or visit View a list of choruses that are participating in the January 2012 Global Open House event here,

Ag Arama at UMC on Saturday, January 28th

CROOKSTON, Minn. – A legacy continues at the University of Minnesota, Crookston with hosting of the 37th annual Ag Arama. The weekend of events, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, January 27-28, 2012, is hosted by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department and includes fun and excitement for the entire family. Most of the activities take place on Saturday, Jan. 28, in the University Teaching and Outreach Center (UTOC) located on the north edge of the campus.

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

On Friday evening, the Animal Science Association will sponsor a chili feed from 5 to 7 p.m. in UTOC for $5 per person.

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

From 9 a.m. to noon, an agricultural industries show features some of the latest in agricultural equipment. At noon, the Round Robin Showmanship will begin. Coronation of the Ag Arama royalty takes place at 1 p.m. followed by the presentation of specialty awards and the sweepstake’s presentation. Several games and competitions, including men's and women's crosscut saw contests and log splitting, begin at 2:30 p.m.

In the evening, a walleye or rib dinner will be served at the Crookston Eagle’s Club from 6 to 7 p.m., along with an alumni social from 6 to 8 p.m. also at the Eagles. Cost of the dinner will be $11 for the walleye and $10 for the ribs.

Capping off the weekend will be dancing to “Pick Six” from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Eagle’s.

Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week is Jan. 15-21

Governor Mark Dayton with the support of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA) has proclaimed the week of Jan. 15-21 as Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week in Minnesota.

“We see the excitement to ride building up as people wait for that first ‘good’ snow of the season to arrive, so we see a lot of pent up riding excitement in a short amount of time during these ‘low snow’ seasons,” said Captain Mike Hammer, DNR Education Program Coordinator. “Our concern is all of the anxious snowmobilers suddenly hitting the trails all at once when that good snow finally arrives.”

To legally ride a snowmobile in Minnesota, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976 need a valid snowmobile safety certificate.

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 1-800-366-8917.

DNR and MnUSA also want to remind snowmobilers of a few basic safety tips:

DON’T’ DRINK – Drinking and driving can be fatal. Drinking alcohol before or during snowmobiling can impair judgment and sow reaction time. Snowmobilers who have been drinking may drive too fast or race across unsafe ice. Alcohol also causes body temperature to drop at an accelerated rate, which increases the likelihood of hypothermia.
SLOW DOWN – Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents. Drivers should proceed at a pace that will allow ample reaction time for any situation. Remember, when driving at night a speed of only 40 miles an hour may result in “over driving” the headlight.
BE PREPARED – When traveling, make sure to bring a first aid kit, a flashlight, waterproof matches, and a compass.
STAY ALERT – Fatigue can reduce the driver’s coordination and judgment.
ICE ADVICE – Avoid traveling across bodies of water when uncertain of ice thickness and strength of ice on lakes and ponds. Snow cover can act as a blanket and prevent safe ice from forming. Never travel in a single file when crossing bodies of water.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS – Use a full-size helmet, goggles or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice, and flying debris. Clothing should be worn in layers and should be just snug enough so that no loose ends catch in the machine.
WATCH THE WEATHER – Rapid weather changes can produce dangerous conditions.
BRING A BUDDY – Never travel alone. Most snowmobile accidents result in some personal injury. The most dangerous situations can occur if a person is injured and alone. If you must travel alone tell someone your destination, planned route, and when you will return.
REPORT ACCIDENTS – The operator of a snowmobile involved in an accident resulting in medical attention, death, or damage exceeding $500 must file an official accident report through the county sheriff’s office within 10 days.

For a copy of DNR’s 2011-2012 Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules, and Regulations handbook, you can call 888-MINNDNR (outstate) or 651-296-6157. It’s also available on the DNR’s web page:

USDA Extends Conservation Stewardship Program Sign-Up to January 27

Ada, Minnesota, Jan. 12, 2012 –– USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White today announced that the cut-off date for the current Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) ranking period has been extended to January 27, 2012. Producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship are eligible for CSP payments.

“We want to make sure that people who want to be considered for CSP during this first ranking period have the time they need to complete their applications,” said Shawnn, Balstad, District Conservationist. “CSP is a very popular program and I encourage interested producers to apply at their local NRCS office as soon as they can.”

CSP is offered in all 50 states, tribal lands and the Pacific and Caribbean areas through continuous sign-ups. Administered by NRCS, CSP provides many conservation benefits including improved water and soil quality, enhanced wildlife habitat and conservation activities that address the effects of climate change.

Producers are encouraged to apply for CSP throughout the year to be considered for current and future application ranking periods. Those who apply by January 27, 2012, may be eligible for current available funding. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland and nonindustrial forestland.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contracts obligations and potential payments. It is available from local NRCS offices and at:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


“Traffic Safety= A Life-Long Ride” is the theme for the 38th Annual Minnesota Alcohol Traffic Safety Conference to be held April 25-27, 2012 in St. Cloud at the Holiday Inn® & Suites St. Cloud (Hwy 23 & 15 Jct.). P.O.S.T. Credits and other applicable continuing education credits are available for attending the conference, as in past years. MATSA is a non-profit organization promoting traffic safety in Minnesota. Rooms are reserved for conference attendees - make your own hotel reservations by going online or calling 320-253-9000.

Some of the highlighted speakers this year include; Sgt. Kathy Pederson, Minnesota State Patrol; Lisa Kons, Minnesota Safety Council; Riccardo Munoz, Drug and Alcohol expert from the Minnesota State Patrol; a representative from the Office of the Attorney General, a current television personality and many others. Recent past guest speakers have included Judge James Dehn, 10th Judicial District, Mad Dog Vachon, Rod Grams, Dr. Janis Amatuzio, TV News Anchor/Reporter Betsy Singer of KAAL TV; Jean Ryan, Alcohol Programs Director from the Department of Public Safety; Pat Bluth of Crow Wing County M.AD.D. as well as Fox 9’s Trish Van Pilsum and many others.

This conference will be the fourth year that Jennifer Booge has led a breakout session on Child Passenger Safety training during the conference. Persons who are CPS certified can get credits for this training as well. Conference attendees have included college students, persons in chemical/alcohol related vocations, law enforcement officers, social workers, attorneys, driver education instructors, probation officers and citizens interested in traffic safety or chemical - alcohol issues. Critiques and comments show that each year is a great conference and the April 2012 Conference should be no exception.

For more information about the conference or to register please visit or call 218-547-7237. You may also email Shirley at Attendees may register for one, two or all three days. The first and last days of the conference are half days. Some meals are included in the conference fees. Dress recommendation is business casual. Prospective attendees are encouraged to register as early as possible. Drawings for door prizes are held during and at the end of the conference.

Minnesota farmer-author to share his conversations with the land

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota farmer and author Jim VanDerPol will read from his new book, Conversations with the Land, this Friday evening, January 13, at the River’s Edge Convention Center (formerly the St. Cloud Civic Center) in downtown St. Cloud. The book reading begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The event is part of the Minnesota Organic Conference.

VanDerPol and his family operate a diversified crop and livestock farm near Kerkhoven, Minnesota and market their farm’s pork products under the Pastures A Plenty brand.

VanDerPol says that while he yearns to return to the agriculture culture of the 1950s and 60s, he wants to do more than just lament about how small diversified farms have been replaced by larger operations. In Conversations with the Land, he offers his vision for what each of us can do make sure agriculture practices are good for the environment, the people who live within it, and even the nation as a whole. VanDerPol’s writing has appeared in periodicals including Graze magazine, Farming magazine, and the Progressive Populist. Conversations with the Land is published by No Bull Press.

The Minnesota Organic Conference runs from Friday morning, January 13, to Saturday afternoon, January 14, at the River’s Edge Convention Center. This farmer-focused event offers educational sessions about organic topics including soil health, weed management, grain and vegetable production, dairy farming, marketing, and regulatory issues, as well as a 75-vendor trade show. Organizers expect 400-500 people to attend. The conference schedule, costs, and registration information are available at or by calling 651-201-6012.

HCSCC receives grant

Moorhead, Minn., Jan. 10, 2012 – The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC) received a $6,000 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grant for a new exhibit featuring Hjemkomst voyage artifacts. The research and design phase of the exhibit development has been made possible in part by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of the Minnesotans on November 4, 2008 and is administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.

The exhibit, which is currently under development, opens on July 21, 2012 during the 30th anniversary celebration of the famous voyage of the Hjemkomst from Duluth harbor to Bergen, Norway in 1982.

The exhibit, which will be on display through Dec. 31, 2012, will bring a new perspective as well as new information about the Hjemkomst expedition. The HCSCC hopes the public can look at this exhibit with new eyes and be amazed again at what an accomplishment this expedition was—for the Asp family, voyage crew, as well as the businesses and communities that supported it.

HCSCC Executive Director Maureen Kelly Jonason encourages everyone to mark their calendars for July 21, 1 - 5 p.m., for the 30th anniversary celebration which will be a special opportunity to commemorate an important historical event in regional history.

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.

Sen. Franken to Discuss Higher Education and Flood Preparedness in Moorhead

MINNESOTA [01/10/12]–Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 11th, U.S. Sen. Al Franken will be in Moorhead to discuss the issues facing higher education and flood preparedness.

At 9:30 a.m., Sen. Franken will be at Concordia College to meet with President William Craft and other administrators and faculty members to discuss the most pressing issues facing higher education institutions in Minnesota. He will also meet with students during a political science class. There will be a short media availability at 10:55 a.m. following Sen. Franken’s classroom visit.

At 1:00 p.m., Sen. Franken will be at City Hall to meet with city and county officials to get an update on the progress of the Fargo Moorhead diversion and discuss the county and city’s advance preparations in the event there is spring flooding in 2012.

WHO: U.S. Sen. Al Franken
WHAT: Visits Concordia College to discuss issues facing higher education
WHEN: Wednesday, January 11th, 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Concordia College*
901 8th Street South, Moorhead
*The tour will begin at the Offutt School of Business-Old Main, Room 218/219

WHO: U.S. Sen. Al Franken
WHAT: Meets with city and county officials to discuss flood preparedness
WHEN: Wednesday, January 11th, 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: Moorhead City Hall
1st Floor City Council Boardroom
500 Center Avenue (north entrance), Moorhead

Friday, January 6, 2012

MDH is promoting prevention of congenital heart defects

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is joining the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) and the Minnesota March of Dimes to increase awareness about congenital heart defects in Minnesota during January, National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Approximately 1 in 110 live births are reported to have congenital heart defects annually in the U.S. Fortunately, many forms of congenital heart defects may be preventable through healthy lifestyle choices and medical interventions before and during pregnancy.

"MDH is distributing information to local public health departments who work with women across the state, and we are excited to be part of this national movement," said Kristin Oehlke, Birth Defects Program manager at MDH. "Through our efforts across the state, we aim to reach women and their families with vital prevention information."

Oehlke noted that the first few weeks of pregnancy are especially important. "The heart forms in the early weeks of pregnancy, and diet, lifestyle choices, environmental factors, health conditions and medications all can play a role in preventing or causing congenital heart defects," Oehlke said.

To help prevent congenital heart defects, studies have shown that women should:
• Avoid all alcohol and illegal/recreational drugs if there is a chance they may become pregnant.
• Avoid all exposure to smoke, chemicals and toxins, both at work and at home.
• Take a folic acid supplement throughout the child-bearing years and check with health care providers about getting adequate amounts of all essential nutrients.
• See a physician before pregnancy. This is especially important for women who are taking medications for medical conditions such as seizures or depression; have any known metabolic conditions, including diabetes or obesity; or have a family history of congenital heart defects.
• Ensure their blood sugar is under control and achieve a healthy weight before pregnancy if they have diabetes or are obese.
"Small steps like visiting a health care provider before pregnancy and taking a multivitamin every day can make a difference," said Oehlke. She added that women can take other steps in their everyday lives to maintain good health, such as having regular health care check-ups and learning about family history and genetic risks.

More information is available at

Fish shelter identification required

Ice conditions on Minnesota waterways may vary, but fish shelter identification violations seem to be consistent, according to conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

DNR reminds ice anglers and others that all shelters placed on the ice of Minnesota waters must have either the complete name and address, a driver’s license number, or the nine-digit DNR number on the license of the owner plainly and legibly displayed on the outside, in letters and figures at least two inches high.

Other noteworthy shelter regulations include:

• Shelter may not be left unattended anytime between midnight and one hour prior to sunrise unless the shelter is licensed. (The Department of Public Safety requires registration of trailers used to haul fish houses or dark houses and enclosed trailers or recreational trailers used for fishing. Trailer registration is available from a deputy registrar.)
• A tag, furnished with a license, must be attached to the exterior in a readily visible location.
• Shelters left on the ice overnight need to have at least two square inches of reflective material on each side of the house.
• People may not erect a shelter within 10 feet of an existing shelter.
• A shelter license is not required on border waters with Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.
• Shelters must comply with the identification requirements of the state for which the angler is licensed.
• Shelters may be used for fishing within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), but must be removed from the ice each night. The structure must be removed from the BWCAW each time the occupant leaves the BWCAW.

Shelter owners are also reminded to take appropriate steps to keep their houses from freezing onto ice surfaces. With the recent thawing and cooling, it is not uncommon for shelter contact points to become frozen to the ice, providing challenges when it comes to moving or removing the shelters. A common method used to prevent freezing is to place blocks under the shelter contact points. Ice anglers are reminded that blocks placed under shelters must be removed and cannot be left on frozen waters. An easy way to remove a frozen ice block is with a long handled maul or a splitting maul. A couple of clean strikes will easily free frozen blocks.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Homeowners Warned to be Wary of Company Selling Deeds

January 5, 2012, Saint Paul, Minnesota — The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning consumers not to be duped by a company that’s offering homeowners copies of their property deeds for an exorbitant price – in some cases more than 40 times the price consumers would pay if they were to purchase the same copies themselves at their county offices.

The company, Deed Retrieval Department (which also does business as Deed Retrieval Services and Record Retrieval Department), has been sending Minnesota and Wisconsin homeowners letters that appear to be a bill for $87 from the U.S. government for a property deed. However, despite the fact that it looks official, it's not a bill nor is it from the U.S. government. The letter says, “Why do we believe you need a copy of your current Grant Deed and Property Profile? State Record Regulation Department recommends that all U.S. homeowners obtain a copy of their current Grant Deed.” At the bottom, the letter states that the “product or service is not endorsed by any government agency.” However, the BBB believes that consumers may overlook this fine print.

“In most cases, homeowners don’t even need a copy of the deed to their home” said BBB President and CEO Dana Badgerow. “And if you want a copy, we advise against paying $87 to this firm or any other when you can get one for a fraction of that price from your local County Clerk’s or Register of Deed’s office.”

Letters from Deed Retrieval Services list an address in Champlin, Minnesota – which is a UPS Store. The company, operating under different names, also claims two additional addresses in Wisconsin; a Milwaukee address and a Madison address, both of which are UPS stores. It’s likely that mail sent to any of these boxes is forwarded out of state. An alert has been added to the company’s BBB Business Review, informing consumers about the BBB’s concerns regarding this company and their marketing tactics.

Consumers who receive questionable offers or have concerns about mailings that appear to be official or have governmental ties, are encouraged to contact the BBB at 1-800-646-6222.

Minnesota awarded a $226,255 Grant from the Department of Defense

January 5, 2012—St. Paul, MN—Today, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is celebrating the fact that Minnesota will receive a $226,255 Electronic Absentee Systems for Elections grant from the Federal Voting Assistance Program at the Department of Defense.

“This is wonderful news for those in uniform who defend our right to vote,” said Secretary of State Ritchie, “because this federal grant will help develop online tools to remove barriers to absentee voting by advancing the electronic options for military and overseas citizens.”

The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State will use the Federal Voting Assistance Program grant to further support military and overseas voters by enhancing features of the office website. The proposed website improvements include video tutorials about how to use the tools on the site, a new tool to allow voters to view the candidates and questions that will appear on their ballot, and a customized tool for the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot that will provide voters the names of the candidates they have to choose from in federal, state and local races.

“Over the past several years, Minnesota has greatly reduced the ballot transmission failure rate for military and overseas voters and was recognized for having one of the highest military and overseas voter satisfaction rates in the country in 2008,” said Secretary Ritchie. “This office worked closely with the Pentagon, local government officials, and legislators and governors from both sides of the aisle to increase the absentee ballot acceptance rate by passing important legislation and improving information sharing with Minnesota voters.”

Improvements made to the absentee ballot process to date include:
• Moving the primary election date a month earlier allowing absentee voters to ensure sufficient time for ballot return;
• Creating an easy-to-use website to help military and overseas voters
• Passing legislation to allow local election officials to immediately review returned military and overseas absentee ballots for errors so a
replacement ballot can be sent;
• Launching an online absentee ballot lookup service that allows voters to check:
- whether or not their ballot application was received
- when their absentee ballot was sent to them
- when their absentee ballot was received by their local election officials
- if the ballot was counted or rejected, the reason for the rejection
- the date that a replacement absentee ballot was sent to the voter;
• Providing an online voter registration status check.

Additional information about absentee voting, voter registration and other election information is available at

Public meeting for Hwy 9 construction in Ada set for Jan. 12

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Interested individuals are invited to attend a public information meeting Thursday, Jan. 12, to discuss the Highway 9 reconstruction project in Ada during summer 2012.

The meeting is from 5:30 - 7 p.m. at the Ada City Hall, 15 E. Fourth Ave., Ada.

Shawn Groven, MnDOT project engineer, will present the project plans, anticipated timelines and detour route.

The reconstruction of Highway 9 is in the Ada city limits. The project includes concrete pavement work, pedestrian ramps, storm sewer, lighting and grading.

To request an ASL interpreter or other reasonable accommodation, call Janet Miller at
651-366-4720 or 1-800-657-3774 (Greater Minnesota); 711 or 1-800-627-3529 (Minnesota Relay). You may also send an e-mail to

Stars of Energy Efficiency Awards

Since 1993, the Alliance to Save Energy has illuminated the best and brightest stars in energy efficiency. Esteemed award winners have included Ted Turner, Arthur Rosenfeld and many innovative companies paving the way to an energy-efficient future.

The 2012 Evening with the Stars of Energy Efficiency Awards Dinner is especially meaningful, as it will be the 20th commemoration of these prestigious awards, and also will celebrate the Alliance's 35th anniversary.

Don’t miss your chance to shine, and join the the esteemed list of award winners who've been crowned "Stars of Energy Efficiency" over the last 20 years.

2012 Star of Energy Efficiency Award Categories
Charles Percy Award for Public Service
Recognizes an individual for an outstanding public service contribution and/or a lifetime commitment to EE.

“Galaxy” Star of Energy Efficiency
Recognizes outstanding achievements in EE for entities earning more than $150 million in annual revenue.

“Super Nova” Star of Energy Efficiency
Recognizes outstanding achievements in EE for entities earning less than $150 million in annual revenue.

“Andromeda” Star of Energy Efficiency
Recognizes outstanding achievements in EE for entities earning less than $10 million in annual revenue.

“I-Star” Award for Energy Efficiency
Recognizes the outstanding contributions to EE achieved through special projects or activities overseas that are led by nominees based outside of U.S. territories.

“Innovative” Star of Energy Efficiency Award
Recognizes an emerging technology or service that has the potential to transform a sector of the EE market but which, given the early stage of the innovation, has yet to generate proven savings.
Submit your nomination by Friday, Feb. 10 and receive $50 off the nomination fee! Final deadline for all nominations is Friday, March 30, 2012.

Save the Date:
October 3, 2012
Andew W. Mellon Auditorium
Washington, D.C.