Friday, March 30, 2012

MPCA will hold meeting April 11 on changes at C&D Landfill near Hawick

Willmar, Minn. - The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has scheduled a public meeting for 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 11, at the Roseville Town Hall in Hawick, to present information and take questions about a change in the operation of the C&D Landfill.

Since 2009, C&D Landfill, Inc. has operated a Class I demolition landfill on about 4.1 acres of a 41-acre parcel northwest of Hawick, across Highway 23. In January the MPCA approved the company’s request for a Class II demolition landfill permit. During the public notice period for the permit change, the MPCA received a request for a public information meeting.

As a Class II demolition landfill, C & D is allowed to accept additional wastes, including asbestos-containing materials; previously affixed carpet and carpet padding from construction, remodeling, repair and demolition buildings; demo-like industrial wastes composed of wood, concrete, porcelain fixtures, shingles or window glass; plastic sheeting from construction or remodeling projects; nonrecyclable cardboard packaging mixed with other construction and demolition waste in a dumpster; and fiberglass, such as wash tubs, hot tubs, wash basins, or other fiberglass structures.

The landfill has an engineered liner on the bottom, a leachate-collection system above the liner system, and a surrounding groundwater-monitoring system. As a condition of the permit, the MPCA and Kandiyohi County require that the facility establish a financial assurance for the proper operation, closure, postclosure care and potential corrective action.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

MnDOT announces statewide flood mitigation projects

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation today announced eight flood mitigation projects totaling $30 million to be constructed in the next five years. These projects are part of a $50 million flood mitigation program.

“After the substantial statewide flooding in fall 2010, MnDOT created this program to make state roadways more resistant to future flood damage,” said Tom Sorel, MnDOT Commissioner.

The flood mitigation projects are funded through existing bond authority and include improvements to drainage structures, slopes, berms and ditches prone to flooding as well as repairs, realignments or raises to highways that regularly flood. 

Major projects include:

-       Replace Highway 101 bridge over the Minnesota River and raise the existing roadway near the bridge between Shakopee and Chanhassen. Construction in 2014.
-       Realign Highway 75 north of Breckenridge to be outside the flood plain. Construction in 2016.
“As stewards of Minnesota’s infrastructure, we continuously look for enhancements that encourage sustainability while enhancing our quality of life now and in the future,” said Sorel.

Sorel said the program will mean lower costs to repair damage from future floods, creating more sustainable transportation in the future. It will also provide more value and safer communities to Minnesotans with reduced repair costs and less traffic disruption.

MnDOT announced 22 projects in 2011 as part of the flood mitigation program. For a complete project list, visit

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fly-in/Drive-In pancake breakfast in Crookston

CROOKSTON, Minn. – The annual spring Fly-In/Drive-In Pancake Breakfast, will take place on Sunday, April 15, 2012, at the Crookston Municipal Airport. The breakfast, scheduled from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., is hosted by Alpha Eta Rho, the aviation fraternity at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, and Crookston Aviation. Tickets for the breakfast for adults are $6 in advance and $8 at the door; children 4 to 12 are $3; and children 3 and under are free. Tickets may be purchased from Alpha Eta Rho members or by contacting Chris Anderson at 612-715-2483.

The University of North Dakota (UND) Student Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association will be offering FREE airplane rides for those 8 to 17 years of age from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A legal guardian must be present to sign permission forms for the airplane rides. To learn more about these Young Eagle Flights, visit

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 26 bachelor’s degree programs, 18 minors, and 36 concentrations, including 10 online degrees, in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,600 undergraduates from 25 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  “Small Campus. Big Degree.”  To learn more, visit

Business Ethics Summit

Burnsville, Minnesota – March 28, 2012 – The BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota will host the first-ever Business Ethics Summit, April 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business, where business leaders, ethics officers, academics and members of the future workforce will take part in a day-long summit about business ethics.

Participants will experience an ethics panel discussion, moderated by KSTP’s Tom Hauser, featuring business leaders from various industries and business size. After lunch, which offers an opportunity to meet face-to-face with area ethics leaders, two mini-seminars – Building a Culture of Ethics in Business and Ethics of Social Media – will be held, covering just two of the many hot topics in business ethics today.

Advocating ethical business practices is the backbone of the Better Business Bureau’s mission. “Here in our Centennial year, we are very excited to start this dialogue along with our partner, the University of St. Thomas, and the distinguished panel of professionals we’ve assembled,” said Dana Badgerow, Pres ident and CEO of the BBB. “By fostering this discussion, we hope to return the focus to the very roots of our organization, which was founded in Minneapolis 100 years ago, and underscore once again the importance of a marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other.”

Panelists and presenters include: Paul Blom, Right At Home; Tim Brunelle, Hello Viking; Chris Collin, General Mills; Gina Debogovich, Best Buy; Bryan Del Monte, Del Monte Agency; Kathleen Edmond, Best Buy; Dr. Ron James, Center for Ethical Business Cultures; Amy Lilly, CenterPoint Energy; Dr. Christopher Michaelson, University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business; Dr. Michael Porter, University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business; Jeff Taxdahl, ThreadLogic; and Kathy Tunheim, Tunheim.
To start the conversation about ethics today and encourage participation during the event, the BBB has launched a Twitter hashtag, #BBBSummit.  The Business Ethics Summit will also host a “Tweet Wall” during the event, providing updates on the event and subsequent discussions.

“It is an honor and a great opportunity to collaborate with the BBB on this event," said Dean Maines, president of the Veritas Institute, an Opus College of Business center that promotes the integration of ethical values within organization's operating policies and processes. "Through the years, the BBB and the college have both promoted ethical business conduct. The Summit allows us to join together on this shared concern, offering leaders insights from both business practice and leading-edge management scholarship."      

Registration is required and open to the public. Register online at

Schulze Hall, Opus College of Business
University of St. Thomas
1000 LaSalle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Date and Time:
April 17, 2012
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

$29 / Person
$25 / BBB Accredited Businesses
Free / College Students

About the Better Business Bureau
The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. Our hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the BBB at or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222. Visit the BBB’s Centennial website at < /p>

Monday, March 26, 2012

MPCA offers 4% loans to help truckers save $ on fuel

St. Paul, Minn. — With diesel fuel prices climbing to $4 per gallon, low-interest loans can help Minnesota long-haul truckers save money, stay cool this summer, and reduce pollution on overnight rest stops.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) offers loans at 4 percent to owner-operated long-haul truckers and small trucking companies to purchase idle-reduction devices. These auxiliary power units, or APUs, are either small, 15-horsepower diesel engines or battery pack systems that can run air conditioning, heaters and electricity to power laptops while the truck’s main engine is shut off.

“Best decision I ever made,” said Paul Ahles, long-haul truck owner-operator. “I would absolutely recommend getting an APU. The MPCA has been great to work with.”

Ahles has used his new APU on an older truck for nine months and estimates he’s saving $500 per month in fuel idling costs even after deducting a loan payment and fuel and maintenance costs. Ahles averages about 266 hours of idling per month.

Long-haul trucks consume about one gallon of fuel per hour while idling. But a diesel APU will use only one-fifth as much. A 10-hour overnight rest can cost a trucker $40 with diesel fuel at $4 per gallon, compared to just $8 when operating a diesel APU. In addition, APUs help provide lower-cost temperature control that helps many truckers get a better night’s sleep.

“Even if the truck driver idles just 150 hours per month that’s $600 in fuel,” said Mike Nelson, who runs the loan program for the MPCA. “A trucker would save more than $200 per month even with the loan payment, routine maintenance, and fuel. And reducing truck engine idling will also extend the life of their truck engine.”

Small trucking companies and owner-operated fleets are strongly encouraged to request APU loan applications from the MPCA before April 23. Applications are available on the MPCA website at For more information, call Mike Nelson at 651-757-2121 or 800-985-4247.

‘We the People: The First Official Printing of the U.S. Constitution' Opens Tues, April 3

The Minnesota History Center in St Paul will have on display a rare, early published version of the U.S. Constitution and an even more rare draft of the Bill of Rights, along with the original editions of the two state of Minnesota Constitutions. The exhibit runs April 3 - July 4, 2012.

This exhibit is presented by Thomson Reuters. The U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are on loan from the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation. The exhibit is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Legacy Amendment through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.

The Minnesota History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W., St. Paul, MN 55102

DNR announces temporary, seasonal fishing closures

As ice-out begins and waters warm, anglers should regularly visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) website to check for seasonal closures that protect fish spawning areas.

Closures, which routinely occur each year depending on local conditions, are listed as an Angler Alert at A direct link also is provided at

Portions of waters closed to fishing also are posted at access sites and in other visible areas. Anglers may fish in areas that are not posted.
Seasonal Fishing Closures

The following waters in the portions designated are closed to the taking of all fish during the periods specified to protect fish spawning areas. A few may also be closed to boating to further protect concentrations of fish. Look for signs at access sites and in the areas as noted. All dates are inclusive.

Bass Lake – Itasca County
North basin on the west shore near the Pincherry Access and south basin along north shore in the Elm Point area closed to fishing March 26-June 30.

Chub Lake – Carlton County
Southeast Bay just east of the edge of the Baptist Church Camp lot closed to boating and fishing May 12- June 30.

Channel – Cook County
Channel between Little Gunflint and Little North Lakes on the Minnesota-Ontario border closed to fishing April 1-May 30.

Cross River – Cook County
(Inlet to Gunflint Lake) from the Gunflint Trail to Gunflint Lake closed to fishing April 1-May 25.

Jewett Lake – Otter Tail County
Southwest shore T.134,R.43,S.23 closed to fishing March 22-June 30.

Lake Maud – Becker County
Southwest bay closed to fishing March 26-June 20.

Malign River (Northern Lights Rapids) – Cook County
Ontario side of Saganaga Lake closed to fishing April 1-May 31.

Otter Tail River – Becker County
Area below Highway 10 culvert near Frazee closed to fishing March 26-May 11.

Pelican River – Becker County
Area below Bucks Mill Dam to Buck Lake and from Big Detroit Lake upstream to Minnesota Highway 34 closed to fishing March 26-May 11.

Round Lake – I tasca County
Two bays on the south side of the lake closed to fishing March 26-June 30.

Sea Gull River – Cook County
Area from Sea Gull Lake through Gull Lake to Saganaga Lake approximately 1/3-mile north of the narrows closed to fishing April 1-May 25.

Saganaga Falls – Cook County
Area on the Minnesota-Ontario border where the Granite River enters Saganaga Lake closed to fishing April 1-May 31.

Toad River – Otter Tail County
Inlet to Big Pine Lake upstream to County Road 13 (T.137, R.38,S.32) closed to fishing
March 22-June 1.

Burning restrictions begin todayfor 35 MN counties, more to be added April 2

Burning restrictions begin today (March 26) for 35 counties throughout the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced.
The counties include: Aitkin, Anoka, Becker, southern Beltrami (that portion south of Highway 1), Benton, Carlton, Cass, Chisago, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Dakota, Douglas, Hennepin, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Kittson, Mahnomen, Marshall, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pennington, Pine, Polk (that portion south and east of County Road 6 from the Mahnomen County line to Minn. Highway 92 east to the Clearwater County line) Pope, Ramsey, Roseau (that portion west of Highway 89), Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Washington, and Wright. These restrictions are put in place each spring to reduce the occurrence of wildfires, which can damage homes and other personal property.

Beginning April 2, restrictions will also be placed on the following counties: Beltrami (that portion north of Highway 1), Cook, Koochiching, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Roseau (that portion east of Highway 89), and all of St. Louis County.

Due to the continued snowmelt, warming weather, and dry vegetation, much of Minnesota is at increased risk of wildfires. The risk will remain high until green vegetation emerges. Until that time, no burning will be allowed unless a special permit is obtained from a local forestry office.
Special permits will only be written for extenuating circumstances such as time sensitive construction projects and prescribed burning conducted by professional firefighters. The DNR encourages the use of composting, recycling, and chipping as alternatives to burning.

While debris burning will be curtailed, the use of campfires, if smaller than 3 feet in diameter and 3 feet in height, will continue to be allowed unless limited by the local jurisdiction. Statewide permits are not required for this type of fire if it meets the above conditions and is monitored until coals have cooled.

Fire conditions may change quickly over the next few weeks. For more information and maps, and to check fire conditions, visit the DNR website.


Beware of new scam in Minnesota!

Phone Scam involving County Sheriff’s Office’s

The Norman County Sheriff's Office would like to inform the citizen’s and business owners in Norman County of a scam that has shown up in the South West part of Minnesota involving the use of their local Sheriff’s Office this last week.

A person will call a business or citizen and identify themselves as an employee of their local Sheriff’s Office. The caller is will try to sell advertising for the Sheriff’s Office and ask that you donate money.

The Norman County Sheriff's Office does not solicit any funds for advertising or other donations over the phone. If we were to solicit any donations it would be in person or in letter form on Norman County Sheriff's Office letter head.

If you receive a call like this it is best to tell them you prefer to donate locally and hang up. Members of the public should hang up on a caller asking for money over the phone.

Sheriff Jeremy Thornton
Norman County Sheriff's Office
15 2nd Ave E
Ada, MN 56510

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Aviation Safety Seminar April 3rd at UMC

CROOKSTON, Minn. – A spring Aviation Safety Seminar will be held on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. The seminar, which begins at 7 p.m., features Chuck Adams, a Grand Forks Air Traffic Control Tower supervisor, and Jim Neihoff, who is a maintenance inspector for the Minneapolis Flight Standards office. The Aviation Safety Seminar is open to all, pilot or non pilot, and everyone is welcome to attend.

Adams will address the “Top Ten Pilot/Controller Mistakes” with his entertaining style while conveying important information about the business of pilots interacting with air traffic controllers. Neihoff will host a session entitled “Ask the FAA,” a question and answer session for pilots.

For more information regarding the Aviation Safety Seminar, contact Mike Vivion, chief pilot on the Crookston campus, at 218-281-8114.

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 26 bachelor’s degree programs, 18 minors, and 36 concentrations, including 10 online degrees, in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology. With an enrollment of 1,600 undergraduates from 25 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree. “Small Campus. Big Degree.” To learn more, visit

4th Annual "Fiesta in the Spirit of Cinco do Mayo" at UMC

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Students in kindergarten through adulthood will have an opportunity to learn Mexican folk dancing techniques during a series of one-hour dance sessions at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. The dance sessions are part of the fourth annual “Fiesta in the Spirit of Cinco de Mayo” taking place on Saturday, April 21, 2012, and will be taught by dancers from Los Alegres Bailadores, a professional dance troupe from St. Paul, Minn. Students must be pre-registered by Wed., April 18, and the sessions, which are free, will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. All dance sessions take place in Lysaker Gymnasium in the Sports Center on the Crookston campus.

The dance sessions will include age appropriate folk dance steps and begin at 2 p.m. for students in grades kindergarten through second grade; followed at 3 p.m. for students in third through sixth grades; and concluding with a session at 4 p.m. for students in grades seven through adult. Each session will begin promptly at the designated time in order to accommodate all interested students. Both boys and girls are encouraged to participate.

For more information or to pre-register for a session, contact Anna Corona at 218-521-0245; Rosa Quiroz at 218-289-7479, or Rae French at 218-281-8339.

Becky Cusick serves as the director as well as a dance instructor for Los Alegres. The dance troupe’s mission is to genuinely bring and preserve Mexican culture through the art of dance for all sorts of occasions and education. For more information, visit

The goal of the Cinco de Mayo celebration at the U of M, Crookston is to promote learning, understanding, and appreciation for the Mexican culture through traditional Mexican entertainment, crafts, and cuisine. Other activities during “Fiesta in the Spirit of Cinco de Mayo” are available online.

The event is sponsored in part by a grant from the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council, which serves the seven counties located in the northwest corner of the state. The Arts Council receives funding from the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment from the Minnesota State Legislature.

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 26 bachelor’s degree programs, 18 minors, and 36 concentrations, including 10 online degrees, in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology. With an enrollment of 1,600 undergraduates from 25 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree. “Small Campus. Big Degree.” To learn more, visit

ATV Enthusiasts Attempt World Record for the Longest ATV Parade

After setting the record in 2009 and having their record broken in 2010, the All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota is gearing up for another attempt this year in Silver Bay, MN.

On June 23, 2012, the All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota (ATVAM) will be attempting to break a Guinness World Record™ for the World's Longest ATV Parade. In June of 2009 ATVAM broke the World Record for the "Longest ATV Parade" with 1,632 ATV's. In the fall of 2010 Utah broke the record with 1,870 ATV's. ATVAM encourages all ATV enthusiasts to join them in Silver Bay for a weekend of fun riding, and other ATV related activities. Organizers are aiming to have more than 2,000 ATV's participate in the parade.

If you register by Friday, May 8, 2012, you will receive one free limited edition "World's Longest ATV Parade" memorabilia t-shirt. To register please or call ATVAM at (800) 442-8826). Parade organizers will also be holding a contest for the most creatively decorated ATV. After the parade concludes Zups will be hosting a buffet at the Silver Bay Union Hall.

Registration and the staging area for the parade will be located one half mile North of Outer Drive and Hwy. 61 N in the field in front of AmericInn Motel. There will be signs showing participants where to go. There will be ample parking on the streets and surrounding areas. The parade route will be a designated ATV trail for the day, so children can ride in the parade as long they meet all MN safety requirements. Side-by-side ATV's and three-wheelers are welcome to come, but are not going to be counted by Guinness World Records™ towards the record breaking attempt. Sponsors of the ATV Parade will be hosting booths on-site for participants to see new products.

Please bring a canned food item to donate to the Silver Bay food bank; items will be collected at the parade site.

More information can be found at, or by calling 1-800-442-8826

Sen. Franken Seeks Entrants to Poetry Contest for MN’s Military Children

ST. PAUL, MN [03/23/12] — In recognition of the Month of the Military Child and National Poetry Month in April, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced today that he is hosting a poetry contest for children of military families in Minnesota.

“Being part of a military family isn’t easy,” said Sen. Franken. “With this poetry contest, I hope to not only recognize the extraordinary work of men and women serving across the world, but also their children, who sacrifice so much when a parent is called away.”

The contest is open to all school-age children of military families in Minnesota. The three age categories are 1) Kindergarten to sixth grade; 2) Seventh to ninth grades; and 3) 10th to 12th grades. Winners from each category will receive an invitation to attend a reception at Sen. Franken’s St. Paul office to meet the senator and his wife, Franni.

Also on hand at the reception will be several special guest judges, including Minnesota Commissioner of Education Dr. Brenda Cassellius; Minnesota Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Larry Shellito; Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, Major General Nash; Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen; Minnesota author Kao Kalia Yang; and Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve.

Top winning poems in each category will be framed and displayed in Sen. Franken’s offices in St. Paul and Washington, D.C. The overall winner will receive an autographed book by famed Minnesota author Garrison Keillor.

For entrance in Sen. Franken’s poetry contest, please submit a poem by April 16, 2012 to or by mail to:

Office of Sen. Al Franken
c/o ‘Poetry Contest’
60 Plato Boulevard East, Suite 220
St. Paul, MN 55107

Participants may only submit one entry, no longer than 300 words. Each entry must include the child's name, the parent/guardian’s name, a phone number and home address, and the name of the child’s school. Please clearly indicate participant’s age category.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

DNR urges early season boaters to use caution

With the ice receding from lakes and rivers at what seems like a near record pace, many boaters and anglers are already launching their boats. There were 400 or more fishing boats reported on the Mississippi River, March 17, on the 12-mile stretch between Lock and Dam Number 3 north of Red Wing to the head of Lake Pepin.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding boaters to take special precautions when enjoying early season boating and fishing. Even though air temperatures have been in the 70s recently, water temperatures are still bone-chilling cold.

"We see it time and time again in Minnesota boating accidents," said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. "A lone boat on a lake capsizes; the victim isn't wearing a life jacket, has no warning or time to put one on, and drowns due to the effects of cold water."

Smalley said the key is the life jacket. "A person who suffers swimming failure or loss of consciousness will stay afloat wearing a life jacket, but drown without one. It's smart for boaters to wear a life vest from the time they enter the boat until they return to shore. There is no time to put one on before a boating accident. It's been compared to trying to buckle your seat belt before a car crash."

A 2007 report by the U.S. Coast Guard stated that a boating accident was five times more likely to be fatal if the water was colder than 60 degrees.
"Cold water can kill in ways that you might not expect," said Smalley. "Nearly everyone knows that immersion in cold water can cause hypothermia – the abnormal lowering of the body's core temperature. What most don't know is that victims who experience an unexpected fall overboard suffer initial cold water shock in the first minute, which involuntarily causes them to take a series of big breaths, called hyperventilation. If their head is underwater, they can inhale more than a quart of water and drown immediately if they aren't wearing a life jacket to keep them afloat."

The DNR Boat and Water Safety Section recommends boaters check the following items before their first outing of the season:
• Have a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket on board, in good condition and in the proper size and type for each passenger.
• Most boats 16 feet and longer also need one type IV throwable seat cushion or ring buoy in the watercraft.
• Make sure all navigation lights are unobstructed and in working order.
• Make sure fire extinguisher is fully charged – tap the gauge to ensure it isn't stuck on full.
• Put fresh gear case lube in the lower unit.
• Make sure the steering is the proper tightness.
• Be sure registration numbers are clear and visible and display the current state registration sticker.
• Inspect plastic thru-hull fittings and replace any that have cracked. Look for hoses that have been forced off or split from freezing. Every spring, boats sink at the dock when these problems go undetected.
• Inspect fuel fittings and hoses; replace if cracked or showing other signs of stress or age.
• Get fresh batteries for portable electronic gear – radios, GPS units, flashlights.
• Check lights on the boat and trailer. Inspect trailer tires for wear and inflate properly. Check the trailer frame for rust spots; inspect the wheel bearings and re-pack if necessary. Test the winch.
• Engine or drive oil that is creamy brown or gray has water in it and a mechanic should find the source of the leak before starting the engine.
• Update navigational chart inventory. Channel markers and buoys change and GPS units can fail.
• Review boat insurance policy and update coverage if necessary. Many insurance companies offer a discount to boaters who have taken a boating safety course.
• Check prop for nicks and dings.
• Be sure the drain plug is installed before launching.
• Take a boating safety course.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Complaints against Power4Home Pro trip BBB sensors

March 21, 2012 – St. Paul, MN – The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning consumers about energy savings claims from Power4Home Pro, a solar and wind energy manufacturing company. The company – which claims a Minnesota address, but appears to be headquartered elsewhere – sells DVDs that purportedly provide instructions on how to build and install energy-saving solar panels and windmills at home. The Power4Home System 2.0 DVD sells for $49.00 plus a $7.99 charge. However, a BBB review of the company’s materials revealed the same information is available on the Internet – for free.

“Power4Home Pro makes their materials sound like fool-proof investments, but our investigation found that identical information was available for free online,” stated Dana Badgerow, President and CEO of the BBB. “We also dispute the highly questionable claims that their offer is “worth 10 times the investment” and can “eliminate your power bill forever.”

The BBB secret-shopped Power4Home Pro, and purchased their “system” for what’s advertised as a limited time offer of $57.96 – information Power4Home Pro claims is worth over $700.00. The company sent a DVD with step-by-step instructions and all other information was delivered in the form of PDF files. The company’s we bsite claims that anyone with basic technical knowledge could construct the panels and windmills, and suggests that the solar panel project could be completed by a father and son in a single weekend. However, the video instructions contained multiple caveats and warnings that only “professionals” and qualified personnel” should work with electricity, and “children should not be allowed near this equipment.”

Power4Home Pro currently has a BBB rating of F on a scale of A+ to F. The BBB has processed 41 complaints against the company, with customers generally reporting delays in receiving – or problems accessing – their materials and/or trying to receive refunds. Though the company promises a “100% money back customer satisfaction guarantee,” many consumers have reported difficulty obtaining refunds from Power4Home Pro. The company has responded to a majority of their complaints, generally by promising to ship materials or provide refunds.

The BBB shopper was able to secure a refund only after sending the company numerous emails and finally threatening to go to the Attorney General. Since providing the company their email address, the BBB secret shopper has since received an influx of similar ‘energy saving’ offers.

The BBB offers consumers the following guidelines for investing in energy-saving options:

Determine if solar energy is right for you.
Due to the high costs associated with the initial investment of solar power, it is important to conduct a self energy audit to determine if solar energy is right for you. Usually, if your monthly bill is less than $100, consider other ways to save energy that cost less.

Consider all the costs associated with solar energy.
Ask about all the costs associated with the maintenance and upkeep of the system. Determine if the benefits and savings outweigh the costs over the long run.

Stay informed about state and federal incentive programs.
Be sure to understand the terms and conditions of the incentive programs and conduct your own research prior to signing a contract with an installer. For the latest information on federal p rograms, visit At the state level, contact the Commerce Department.

Be cautious of installers that promise no out-of-pocket costs prior to reviewing your specific situation.
Be leery if an installer suggests obtaining credit for the full amount of the system even though they are promising very low or no costs due to rebates.

Make sure the roof of your home is equipped to sustain a solar panel system.
Even though a properly installed solar system will not damage your roof, make sure your roof is in good condition before you begin the installation to avoid any future problems.

Understand how your solar energy works.
You can take full advantage of the benefits in solar energy once you know how it works. For instance, panels facing south with no shade obstructions receive maximum exposure during the middle part of the day (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), and therefore provide the greatest percent of energy. Significant sav ings occur when you have excess energy that is not consumed by your household. This excess energy can then be credited to your utility bill saving you money.

Former NBA Player Chris Herren to Speak Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at UMC

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Former NBA player Chris Herren, subject of the Emmy-nominated ESPN documentary, “Unguarded,” will share his story on Wed., October 17, 2012, at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. Herren will speak at 7 p.m. in Lysaker Gymnasium about his basketball career, his struggle with addiction, and his life off the court.

A highly sought-after motivational speaker, Herren is also the subject of a book, Basketball Junkie: A Memoir, a chronicle of his life he co-authored with Providence Journal columnist Bill Reynolds. He played for both the Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics during his career in the NBA and played on international teams from 2001- 2006. He has been sober and drug free since 2008. He launched his own nonprofit to help others receive treatment in 2011 known as the Herren Project.

Bill Tyrrell, director of athletic fund raising, is more than pleased about Herren’s visit to the Crookston campus. “ESPN’s documentary about Chris Herren has a powerful message, and to have him bring his story to our campus is both an honor and an opportunity. Students of all ages along with the community and region can hear Chris share not just his story but his incredible message. We hope everyone will save this date and plan to come to hear what Chris has to say.”

NDSU Offers Tips on Repairing Flooded Landscapes

The flood of 2011 devastated many landscapes. However, it is a new year and spring is here, so it's time to get landscapes back into shape.

Bare spots in the lawn can be reseeded or resodded when the ground is dry enough to work.

"Prepare a smooth seedbed and apply a starter fertilizer," says Tom Kalb, North Dakota State University Extension Service horticulturist. "Usually we wait until mid-April or later after the ground warms up and the risk of bitter cold temperatures are over."

A blend of hardy varieties is best. In sunny areas, look for a seed mix with Kentucky bluegrass as a dominant seed. Fine fescues will do better in shady areas. A minor amount (around 20 percent) of perennial ryegrass is valued in all seed mixes because it germinates quickly and will stabilize the exposed ground. Crested wheatgrass and blue grama grass are better suited to low-maintenance, rural landscapes.

Many people apply crabgrass preventer on the lawn. However, the most common crabgrass- killing chemical (pendimethalin) will prevent all grass seeds from germinating. If you are sowing lawn grass seed this spring, select an alternative crabgrass killer, such as siduron, or just forget about using a crabgrass killer. Crabgrass populations are expected to be low this year because of the flooding and cool weather of last summer.

"When it comes to fertilizing, many of us can't wait to feed the lawn in early spring," Kalb says. "Thin lawns will benefit from fertilization, especially if you did not fertilize last fall. In the future, focus on fertilizing the lawn in the fall, which will contribute more to root development."

Trees and shrubs can be planted in early spring as soon as the ground is dry. The lack of snow this winter will allow people to establish these plants earlier than in most years.

Although it seems like spring, it's too early to plant vegetable seeds in the garden. Most of the state is susceptible to frost damage at least until mid to late May. Many frost-tolerant vegetables, such as radish, spinach, peas and broccoli, are planted in mid to late April.

Although it's too early to plant your garden, you can use this nice weather as a time to improve your garden soil. One or 2 inches of compost, peat moss or rotted manure can be mixed into the topsoil. This organic matter will improve the drainage, fertility and overall structure of the soil. For these reasons, it's also a good idea to enrich the soil of flowerbeds with organic matter now.

"The harmful effects of last year's floods on the garden should be over," Kalb says. "Any raw sewage deposited by floodwaters has had eight or more months to decompose. Organic growers often use six months as the recommended span between applying fresh manure and growing vegetables. However, it is recommended that gardeners thoroughly wash their vegetables after harvesting."

For more information, see the NDSU publications "Home Lawn Establishment" (click here )., "Helping Flooded Trees and Shrubs ( click here), "Lawn and Garden Care After a Flood" (click here)and "Annual and Perennial Flower Selections For North Dakota" ( click here )

From NDSU Agriculture Communication -- March 21, 2012

ND Trooper on a bus program

The North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP) Northeast Region is implementing the Trooper On A Bus program in the Northeast Region this week. The NDHP is partnering with school officials to enhance traffic safety on local bus routes. This effort will enhance the enforcement of related traffic laws and increase public awareness regarding the dangers created by motorists who fail to stop for school buses when children are loading and unloading. The program will be implemented on select dates on various bus routes throughout the region. A State Trooper will be riding along on a school bus to observe motorists’ activities. If a violation occurs, the trooper will radio the information to another trooper in a nearby patrol vehicle. A traffic stop will be initiated and enforcement action will be taken.

North Dakota law requires that if a stopped school bus is displaying alternating flashing red lights or a stop sign control arm, a driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking the stopped bus from either direction on the same roadway (front or back) must stop before reaching the school bus. Motorists may not proceed until the red lights are deactivated, the bus driver signals them to proceed, or the bus resumes motion. Failing to stop as required for a school bus is a $50 fine with six points being assessed to the violator’s driving record.

Bus drivers have the authority to document violations of motorists overtaking or passing their buses while the overhead red stop lamps are activated. These reports are given to local law enforcement, who then follow up and take enforcement action based upon the complaint.

Specific equipment and traffic regulations are in place to provide safety for children inside, as well as in the nearby vicinity, of a school bus. Lighting, reflectors, mirrors, stop arms, emergency exits, compartmentalized cushioned seats and school bus yellow paint are all standard safety features. North Dakota school buses were involved in 186 traffic crashes from the beginning of the 2007 school year through the end of the 2010 school year. These crashes resulted in 63 injuries and 0 deaths. Data provided by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction indicates that none of these injuries were sustained by students on the buses.

The NDHP encourages parents to remind their children to always be wary of vehicle traffic. Most importantly, motorists should drive with the understanding that children are unpredictable and often unaware of the risks associated with certain actions. The NDHP asks motorists to exercise caution when around schools, buses and during periods before and after school. Remember, “Stop on Red, Kids Ahead!”

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Children Explore Agriculture during Annual Tours for Tots at UMC

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Children ages 3 and up can explore the world of agriculture and farm animals during the University of Minnesota, Crookston Tours for Tots program to be held Wednesday, April 11 through through Friday, April 20, 2012. The tours, recommended for children ages 4 -7 years old, will take children to visit the beef and sheep barn, horse stable and arena, and the greenhouse. Groups of 5 or more with adult supervision are best suited to the tours. To set up a tour time, contact Leah Stroot in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department at 218-281-8101.

Children will have the chance to see and interact with animals and hear about projects and activities from students on the Crookston campus. In the greenhouse, children will see the wide variety of plants that are grown and view research areas along the way. Tours for Tots is sponsored by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department at the U of M, Crookston.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Workforce Training Offered

IMPACT 20/20, an innovative economic development initiative, has teamed up with Bemidji State University, Northland Community and Technical College, Northwest Technical College, the University of Nort h Dakota and the University of Minnesota, Crookston to offer world-class training opportunities in Northwest Minnesota.

Three workshops: Customer Service Training, Generations in the Workplace, and Workplace Coaching will be available in locations around the region including Bemidji, Crookston, Park Rapids, Roseau and Thief River Falls. Dates, locations, complete information and registration forms are available at

Based on input from Northwest Minnesota employers, IMPACT 20/20 has designed a new course—Generations in the Workforce is delivered in two sessions that will teach participants to understand generational differences that help maximize individual and team performance. The course will present concepts that can be applied in the workplace, at home, in professional organizations, and life in general.

Galen Cariveau, the director of the Office of Workforce Development at the University of North Dakota, will lead the training. With 35 years of corporate training experience, he has expertise in human resources, workplace coaching, customer service and workplace communications.

Cariveau will also be the trainer for Workplace Coaching, delivered in three sessions. For front line managers, a supervisor, or employees who want to be more effective team leade rs, this course offers instruction on how to interact with employees to encourage good work and correct poor work. Workplace coaching is one of the most important drivers of productivity, customer satisfaction and increased revenue for business and industry.

Customer Service: Building and Maintaining Your Customer Base is a nine-hour course that will focus on building customer relationships, best practices for customer service, and dealing with difficult and diverse customers.

The trainer, Kerry Ross, has 10 years experience with a Fortune 500 company specializing in human resource management and training, and has delivered training to several organizations in northwestern Minnesota, with curriculum developed for businesses and that demonstrated results in the workforce.

Training sessions are held from 9:00 am until 12:00 pm or 12:30 pm. Typically, tuition or fees for these valuable courses range from $160 to $275. Grant funding from IMPACT 20/20 has cut the fee in half for a limited number of participants. Go to for more information or to register.

IMPACT 20/20 is a group of senior executives and elected officials who came together in 2008 to develop a collective action plan for the economy of Northwest Minnesota. Convened by the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, IMPACT 20/20 identified key regional economic initiatives and formed task forces for broadband, education and workforce.

Private well owners urged to have their water tested

More than 1 million people residing in more than 400,000 households in Minnesota rely on private wells as their source of drinking water. While wells can provide high quality drinking water, state health officials observe that most wells are rarely tested on a regular basis for things that can make consumers of the well water sick, such as bacteria, arsenic, or nitrate.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) estimates that at any given time, as many as 25 percent of private wells in Minnesota have detectable levels of total coliform bacteria, an indication that surface contamination has entered the well or water system.

National Groundwater Awareness Week was established more than two decades ago to bring attention to the important role that groundwater plays in the health and well-being of people. Properly maintaining wells that tap into groundwater is critical for protecting personal health and the health of the resource. This year’s observance, March 11-17, is a good time for well owners to put “Test Well” on their “to-do” list, say state well management specialists.

MDH recommends that private wells be tested once a year for total coliform bacteria, an indicator of bacterial contamination. Testing for nitrate is recommended every two to three years – more often if nitrate has been detected previously in the well or if an infant under the age of six months will be consuming the water. In addition, MDH recommends that every well be tested for arsenic at least once.

Testing your well is up to you. Getting your well tested is a relatively simple process. Your local county health department may provide or arrange for testing services. Commercial (or private) laboratories providing water testing services are usually listed in the Yellow Pages under "Laboratories – Testing." You should check to make sure the laboratory is certified to perform tests that you want. The laboratory will provide directions for collecting and submitting water samples for testing. The costs for analysis are usually in the range of $20 to $40 per test, depending on what is tested. More information on well testing can be found at:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

UMC Recognized as part of the President’s Higher Ed Community Service Honor Roll

CROOKSTON, Minn. – The University of Minnesota, Crookston was one of five campuses in Minnesota named to the Honor Roll with Distinction as part of the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for 2012. The campus has been on the Honor Roll every year since 2006 with the exception of one, but this is the first year the campus has been recognized on the Honor Roll with Distinction. Other Minnesota campuses honored with the distinction designation include Augsburg College, College of St. Benedict, Metropolitan State University, and Winona State University.

To be named to the Honor Roll, a school must demonstrate that its students, faculty, and staff are engaged in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community. This national level honor recognizes a college or university for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. A total of 642 campuses were recognized on the 2012 Honor Roll from across the country.

Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school's commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of service.

At the U of M, Crookston in 2011, students tallied 59,683 hours of service through academic service-learning courses, club and individual community service, community-based work study primarily through the America Reads Program, community service internships, and AmeriCorps. They served on their campus, in Crookston, in their local communities, and across the country. Service-learning courses are found across all departments, and each of the nearly 40 student clubs and organizations strives to complete two service projects per semester.

Lisa Loegering, who directs efforts in service learning and civic engagement on the Crookston campus, says meaningful service in the lives of students is invaluable. “Students engaged in service learning or in community service gain context for study in the classroom,” Loegering says. “Their student experience is enriched as they discover the power of commitment to helping others and improving the community in which they live. We hope our students take these service experiences with them wherever they go.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education announced the 2012 Honor Roll recipients at the American Council on Education’s 94th Annual Meeting “Ahead of the Curve” on March 12, 2012, in Los Angeles, Calif. The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, launched in 2006, annually highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement by recognizing institutions that achieve meaningful, measureable outcomes in the communities they serve. For more information, visit

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 26 bachelor’s degree programs, 18 minors, and 36 concentrations, including 10 online degrees, in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology. With an enrollment of 1,600 undergraduates from 25 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree. “Small Campus. Big Degree.” To learn more, visit

MnDOT announces project team for St. Croix Crossing

ST. PAUL, Minn.—The Minnesota Department of Transportation today announced the management team for the construction efforts on the St. Croix Crossing that will connect Oak Park Heights with St. Joseph, Wis. The project cost estimate is between $571 and $676 million and once underway will take three years to complete. The major project goals include:

• Restore the Stillwater Lift Bridge and convert its use to a bicycle/pedestrian crossing
• Build a new bridge to increase traffic capacity between Minnesota and Wisconsin
• Construct roadway approaches on both sides of the river
• Protect historic, cultural and environmental features along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway

MnDOT is reorganizing staff into a St. Croix Crossing project office led by Jon Chiglo. Chiglo, an engineer who led the successful completion of the Interstate 35W bridge in 2007, will manage a staff of engineers and other specialists including community relations and an ombudsman to help resolve issues. Incorporating disadvantage business enterprises is another key priority.

“This project is complex and calls for collaboration among many organizations and individuals,” said MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel. “We intend to achieve nothing less than a legacy of sound construction, responsible stewardship of the St. Croix River Valley’s resources and successful community participation.”

“I am honored to be doing this work and look forward to keeping the community involved with and aware of our efforts,” Chiglo said.

Construction of the new bridge is expected to begin in 2014 and take about three years to complete. Beginning in summer 2012, crews will conduct foundation load tests at the new crossing site and provide bridge designers with critical information about soil conditions under the river to determine how to design the bridge’s foundation.

MnDOT is the lead agency on the project and is coordinating with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as well as sharing in the cost of the bridge. Both states will also work with the Federal Highway Administration.

Interested individuals can stay informed about the project by visiting or the St. Croix Crossing Facebook page, attending open houses and signing up for subscription emails.

MN Dept of Commerce awards $3.8 million in auto theft prevention grants

ST. PAUL, MN – An average of 23 cars are stolen every day in Minnesota – that’s almost one car every hour. Nearly 8,400 vehicles were stolen in Minnesota in 2010 alone, totaling more than $21.3 million in stolen value. But thanks in part to a successful partnership between the Minnesota Department of Commerce and local law enforcement agencies, incidents of auto theft have declined significantly over the last seven years.

Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced the continuation of Minnesota’s successful Auto Theft Prevention Grant Program today, awarding 21 local law enforcement agencies, county attorneys, and community organizations with more than $3.8 million to be used exclusively for local programs that aid in:

1. Identification of critical law enforcement issues
2. Auto theft education for law enforcement officers and citizens
3. Investigation and prosecution of auto theft suspects
4. Collaboration between law enforcement agencies
5. Prevention of auto thefts which result in lower auto insurance premiums

“Every year, auto theft impacts the lives and finances of thousands of Minnesotans, and steals from wallets of every consumer in the form of higher insurance premiums,” said Commissioner Rothman. “That’s why Minnesota’s Auto Theft Prevention Grant Program is so important.

“Advancements in auto security features on new vehicles are critically important, and have helped reduce auto theft over time,” Rothman said. “But the most important defenses we have against auto theft are the knowledge, prevention, and partnerships that are made possible, in part, by this proven program.”

Local law enforcement agencies receiving Auto Theft Prevention Grants this year include:

Grantee Award
Anti-Vehicle Crime Association of Minnesota (AVCAM) $67,954
Bemidji Police Department $304,306
Bloomington Police Department $267,943
Brooklyn Center Police Department $103,604
Anoka County Joint Law Enforcement Council $250,261
Crime Stoppers of Minnesota $87,248
District 2 Community Council $22,894
Duluth Police Department $97,456
Hennepin County Attorney $528,517
Hennepin County Sheriff $96,170
Mille Lacs County Sheriff $182,051
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) $110,890
International Association of Special Investigation Units $74,230
Minnesota State Patrol $76,963
Minneapolis Police Department $302,629
Olmstead County Sheriff $64,655
Ramsey County Attorney $525,690
Roseville Police Department $66,083
St. Paul Police Department $373,529
Washington County Sheriff $76,276
Washington/Anoka County Attorney $107,561

Programs supported by Minnesota’s Auto Theft Prevention Grant Program include: jail interviews of known suspects and associates that yield a high rate of recovery and charges; mobile and stationary license plate readers that allow law enforcement to fight auto theft without hiring additional officers; and more.

Law enforcement officers like Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren argue that funding to support these initiatives is critically important in curbing auto theft rates in Minnesota. This year, the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office received an auto theft prevention grant from the Commerce Department to purchase a bait car and two license plate readers.

“The cutting edge license plate recognition technology this grant will support allows our officers to apprehend suspects while they are still in the stolen vehicle,” said Sheriff Lindgren. “These tools will lead to measurable arrests and help our law enforcement officers circumvent criminal activity in Mille Lacs County.”

These efforts, and similar efforts funded statewide by the program, have helped reduce the frequency of auto theft in Minnesota. According to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s (BCA) Uniform Crime Report, auto theft in Minnesota has declined by more than 37 percent since 2004. That year, more than 13,410 vehicles were stolen totaling nearly $52.6 million stolen value. In 2010, 8,398 vehicles were stolen totaling $21.3 million in stolen value.

Commissioner Rothman warns that although auto theft appears to be declining in Minnesota, consumers should remain alert to the threat of auto theft, and take necessary precautions to avoid becoming a car thief’s next victim.

“There are simple things every Minnesota consumer can do to keep car thieves out of their driver’s seat,” Rothman said. “Knowledgeable, careful consumers are a car thief’s worst enemy. We all have a role to play in preventing auto theft in Minnesota.”

Tips to Avoid Losing Your Vehicle to Auto Theft

Urban Communities at Higher Risk – Residents of urban communities and neighborhoods should have a heightened awareness of auto theft and work to actively protect their vehicles from car thieves. According to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), roughly 86 percent of all auto thefts in Minnesota last year took place in urban communities. In fact, North Minneapolis neighborhoods have seen a 44 percent increase in auto thefts in the first two months of 2012.

Your Car May be a Target – Although vehicle theft is primarily a crime of opportunity, perpetrators favor certain makes and models. Thieves target a wide range of popular passenger vehicles, often seeking parts from older models to sell on the black market; or the entire vehicle for scrap metal or cash. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the top ten stolen vehicles in Minnesota in 2010 were:

Rank Name Year
1 Honda Accord 1994
2 Honda Civic 1995
3 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size) 1994
4 Toyota Camry 1999
5 Acura Integra 1995
6 Dodge Caravan 2000
7 Saturn SI 1995
8 Oldsmobile Cutlass/Supreme/Ciera 1995
9 Ford Explorer 2002
10 Toyota Corolla 1993

Lock Your Doors – This may seem like a no-brainer. But the best thing any car owner can do to prevent auto theft is lock your doors, close your windows and sun roof, and take your keys with you every time you leave your vehicle. Never leave your car running with the keys inside.

Never Hide Your Keys – Many drivers hide a spare key behind the visor or stuck to a magnet under the bumper. But seasoned car thieves know all your favorite spots.

Keep Your Valuables Out of Sight – A cell phone, CD case, or briefcase on your passenger seat in plain view is a big invitation for car thieves to strike. Whenever you leave your vehicle, lock the doors and put all valuables in your trunk or glove compartment.

Keep Your Registration Out of the Glove Box – Many drivers keep their vehicle registration in the car at all times. But motorists are strongly advised to never keep their title or registration in their cars. If your car is stolen, a thief can use these documents to more easily dispose of your car. Keep your registration with your driver’s license at all times.

Monday, March 12, 2012

MN Dept of Revenue reaches 1 million e-filers

St. Paul - Today, the Minnesota Department of Revenue received its 1 millionth income tax return submitted electronically. With the income tax filing deadline just over a month away, the department encourages taxpayers to file electronically to ensure better accuracy and quicker refunds.

“We want your income tax return to be accurate. If you e-file, errors are significantly reduced and you will receive your refund faster than if you paper file,” said Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans. “Paper returns can take thirty days or longer to process and tend to have more errors than returns filed electronically.”

Last year the Department of Revenue received 80 percent - or about 2.1 million - electronic tax returns, which was a four percent increase from the previous year.

While taxpayers can still submit their income tax returns through paper filing, e-filing offers added benefits to taxpayers. Over 90 percent of e-filers had their returns processed within five days, compared to 90 percent of paper filed returns being processed within 30 days.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue’s e-filing system also helps taxpayers cut down on errors that could delay processing and refunds. Last filing season, 18 percent of paper filed returns contained errors which delayed refunds. E-filing software is updated with the most current tax laws and will catch the most common errors leading to accurate, faster and possibly larger refunds for taxpayers.

“E-filing offers the added piece of mind that returns are protected by the Revenue Department’s state-of-the-art encryption technology,” added Commissioner Frans. “By e-filing, taxpayers are doing their small part to reduce paper while helping the department carry out its mission to deliver better, more efficient services to Minnesotans.”

Follow the latest news and updates from the Minnesota Department of Revenue on Twitter.

Otter Tail Power Co will sponsor teachers who attend continuing ed seminar

Fergus Falls, MN –Again this year Otter Tail Power Company will sponsor up to ten teachers from its Minnesota and South Dakota service area to attend the 2012 Lignite Teacher Education Seminar: Energy, Economics, and Environment. The company will pay all expenses, including seminar fees, meals, and travel costs, for the seminar that will take place June 18 through 21 at the National Energy Center of Excellence on the campus of Bismarck State College.

One of the biggest draws of this seminar is that teachers who successfully complete seminar requirements may earn two semester graduate credits in economics through the University of North Dakota, in science through Minot State University, or in education through North Dakota State University.

Educators of all grade levels and career guidance counselors are eligible to apply. Otter Tail Power Company is accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis until April 2. Minnesota and South Dakota schools within the company’s service area have received application materials, or teachers may email Becky Luhning at or call her at 218-739-8206.

The seminar, in its 27th year, is designed to provide educators with a broader understanding of the lignite coal industry, how lignite coal is mined and converted into energy, and the important role it plays in providing electricity to residences and businesses in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

The seminar includes topics that are important to the region such as the economic impact of the industry, environmental issues, career opportunities and the need for more workers, energy conservation, and electric transmission. Besides lectures and classroom activities, seminar participants will tour a lignite mine, a power plant fueled by lignite, and the Great Plains Synfuels Plant. They’ll also enjoy a meal onboard the Lewis & Clark Riverboat. Additionally, teachers will take home slides of each presentation, lesson plan examples, coal and ash samples, audiovisual materials, information about the facilities they tour, resource guides, and activities that they can conduct in their classrooms.

Last year Otter Tail Power Company sponsored seven teachers who attended this seminar. The response from past attendees has been overwhelmingly positive.

The Energy, Economics, and Environment Teacher Education Seminar is sponsored by the Lignite Energy Council in coopera tion with the Center for Economic Education at the University of North Dakota, Minot State University, North Dakota State University, and Bismarck State College. The Lignite Energy Council is a trade association that represents more than 360 companies that are involved in the region’s energy industry.

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

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sand Hill River Community Discussion Scheduled

Fertile, MN – Sand Hill River Watershed District (SHRWD) will be hosting presentations and a community discussion on the condition of the Sand Hill River Watershed on Thursday, March 22nd, 2012.

There will be two sessions to accommodate different schedules. The presentations will be identical at both sessions.

The meeting will take place in Fertile, MN at the Community Center from 2:00-4:00 p.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Reaches of the Sand Hill River do not meet state water quality standards. Areas are impaired for low dissolved oxygen and turbidity. Turbidity is a measure of water clarity.

Coffee and cookies will be available during the 2:00 p.m. session and a light supper will be provided during the 5:30 p.m. session. Fun water activities will be available for children during the evening session. The agenda will include:

- Overview of the Watershed Assessment Process
- Technical Work Progress-to-Date: Watershed Conditions Report
- Existing Cost-share Opportunities
- Community Discussion on the Condition of the Sand Hill River

For more information, please visit the Sand Hill River Watershed District’s website -

Second ice fishing shelter removal date fast approaching

The deadline for removing fish houses, dark houses, and portable shelters from waters in the northern half of Minnesota is March 19. Fish shelters in the southern half of Minnesota were to be off the ice on March 5.

Dates of removal are determined by an east-west line formed by U.S. Highway 10, east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.

Shelters located north of this line must be removed no later than midnight, March 19. The only exceptions are Minnesota-Canada border waters (March 31).

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials say if shelters are not removed, owners will be prosecuted and structures may be confiscated and removed, or destroyed by a conservation officer.

After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended. Storing or leaving shelters on a public access is prohibited.

Conservation officers patrolling the Detroit Lakes area advise fish shelter owners along Highway 10 to pay special attention to the deadlines.

“A line runs down Highway 10 from Fargo/Moorhead to Detroit Lakes; then it's Highway 34 from Detroit Lakes,” said Conservation Officer Joe Stattelman of Detroit Lakes. “Fish shelters located north of that line have to be off the ice no later than midnight, March 19.”

Stattelman also advises anglers to remove shelters earlier if ice conditions warrant.

“I hope most people take heed of the ice that we've had this year and remove them sooner rather than later,” Stattelman said.

He also recommends outdoor enthusiasts check ice thickness by using an auger or spud bar before venturing onto a frozen pond, lake or river.

According to information from the DNR Boat and Water Safety Section a minimum of 4 inches is necessary for ice fishing; snowmobiling or ATV activity requires at least 5 inches; 8 to 12 inches for a car or small pickup; and 12-15 inches for a medium truck.

Conservation Officers are also reminding anglers to keep waterways clean. Litter on lakes tarnishes nature’s beauty, destroys wildlife habitats and ruins many opportunities for recreation.

Detour on Highway 11 near Clementson set for March 12 – 17

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Motorists traveling on Highway 11 in northern Minnesota will encounter a week-long detour from March 12 – 17 as crews replace a box culvert near Clementson in Lake of the Woods County.

Westbound traffic will be detoured just west of the Clementson Bridge, onto County Road 18, then west on County Road 94, then north on County Road 90 to Highway 11. All eastbound traffic will follow the same detour in reverse.

The detour will be posted the same as Highway 11 for weight restrictions unless road conditions require load limits to be reduced to permit passenger vehicles only.

MnDOT would like to thank the public for their patience and cooperation as we work to improve the condition of this important corridor to all northern travelers.

For more information on road conditions and construction, click on or call 5-1-1.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cover Crop Workshop Set

Cover crops are the focus of a workshop the North Dakota State University Extension Service is co-sponsoring March 28 in Bismarck.

"Cover Crops: The Science Behind the Numbers" will be held from 9:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Burleigh County Extension office.

Workshop topics are beef production and annual forages, the agronomic and economic value of cover crops for late-season grazing in the central and eastern Dakotas, crop response after cover crops, soil fertility and cover crops, a report on the Southwest North Dakota Soil Health Demonstration Project, challenges of growing cover crops in dryland farming systems in southwestern North Dakota, cover crop impact on corn productivity and soil health in no-till production, interseeding cover crops into corn, bio strip till at the Conservation Cropping Systems Project and an update on northwestern North Dakota cover crops.

Speakers include NDSU and South Dakota State University researchers, NDSU Extension specialists, and Natural Resources Conservation Service and Soil Conservation District representatives.

Lunch will be provided.

The workshop is free of charge, but anyone wanting to attend should register by contacting Linda Schuster at the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center at (701) 652-2951 or

Pulse USA and Agassiz Seed also are sponsoring the workshop.

(NDSU Ag Communications)

Senate District 20 Special Election to be Held April 10, 2012

St. Paul, Minn.—March 7, 2012—Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie today received a writ from Governor Mark Dayton ordering a special election to be held on Tuesday, April 10, 2012. The special election is being held to fill the vacancy in Senate District 20 caused by the death of Senator Gary Kubly. A special primary election, if necessary, will be held on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

The candidate filing period for the Senate District 20 seat begins Thursday, March 8 and ends Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 5 p.m. Candidates may file with either county auditor of the county in which the candidate resides or the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in St. Paul. The candidate withdrawal period ends at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, 2012.

Candidate and special election information will be posted on the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State website at:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

BBB Advice for Spring (Drain) Cleaning

Saint Paul, MN – March 6, 2012 – As spring draws near, many homeowners begin the process of spring cleaning, which often includes getting their drains cleaned. Drain cleaning rids your home of unwanted odors, and helps avoid clogged sinks, overflowing toilets, and laundry room floods. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) advises consumers to prepare themselves and do preliminary research before hiring someone to clean their drains this spring. Consumers should be aware that not all drain cleaners are licensed plumbers. However, many plumbers do perform drain cleaning services.

Drain clogs have many different causes, with the most common causes involving weather, remnants of materials that are flushed down toilets or sinks, or tree roots growing through breaks in the pipes. Homeowners are responsible for the section of pipe running from the home to its connection with the city pipe, which is usually found under the street. Your local water and sewer department can tell you what your responsibility is and consumers should check with them before having any work performed.

Because regular home maintenance may not take care of drain issues completely, many homeowners look to professional drain cleaning and plumbing businesses to solve these problems.

“It’s important for consumers to know what questions to ask their prospective drain cleaners so they can avoid misunderstandings and potential complications” says Dana Badgerow, President and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.

The BBB recommends following these tips to help ensure a painless drain-cleaning experience:

Get references from friends and relatives and contact the Better Business Bureau to obtain free Business Reviews on any companies you consider hiring. Visit or call 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

Explore a variety of options. Shop around and get more than one estimate. Homeowners can expect different companies to suggest different options for solving problems, which also means varying price points. Some of the different options may include taking a video of the line, which helps to determine the best course of treatment to solve the drain back-up issues, as well as any possible collapse of the pipe. It’s also a good idea to ask companies what they charge for this service upfront.

Call before you dig. Homeowners should also have 'call before you dig' services out before any digging is started. Many drain cleaning companies will include this call as part of their service package, but ask ahead of time. Let the drain cleaner know if any other utility work has been performed in the past few years.

Beware of additional fees. Ask about trip fees and other additional fees. Understand that most companies cannot give a true and accurate price quote without seeing the extent of the problem in your home.

Keep the company informed. Before the drain cleaners begin any work, inform them if you (or someone else) have recently tried a chemical or other treatment to clean your drains. Several chemical treatments do work but may need additional time to take full effect. In addition, some of the chemicals a homeowner may use might have harmful effects on the people working to clear the drain or may react badly with treatments performed by the drain cleaning company.

Make sure you understand the process. Get information from the company about what kind of techniques they’ll use to clean your drains. If they use che micals, make sure to verify that they will not cause problems for the pipes you have and that they are compatible with other drain cleaning products you might buy and use in the future. Oftentimes, drain cleaners will offer to sell you some of the same product they use so you can maintain your drains after their work is completed.

Ask about the company’s warranty. Make sure to find out all the details about follow-up and potential issues that could arise in the future. Some companies will offer a one year warranty, while others offer a six month warranty.

Do your research. Find out what caused the problem and how often it may occur in the future. Consider main line repairs, which can be expensive, but will often resolve the problems for many years to come.

For more tips you can trust, visit

UMC Granted Full-Continuing Approval for MN Teacher Licensure in Early Childhood

CROOKSTON, Minn. – The University of Minnesota, Crookston has been granted full-continuing approval from the Minnesota Board of Teaching to prepare individuals for Minnesota teacher licensure through June 30, 2019. UMC currently offers a licensure program in Early Childhood Education and is seeking to add a licensure program for Elementary Education beginning in the fall 2012 semester. The Board took the action during their February meeting and also commended campus leadership for their expeditious response to the findings report and for evidencing full compliance to the required standards. Full-continuing approval has a seven-year interval and is determined by the Board of Teaching.

The approval follows a visit by an assessment team in October 2011, when the campus hosted a three-day visit to review data gathered since 2007 related to the 54 standards established by the Board. These standards are meant to ensure that teacher candidates have the opportunity to learn, develop, and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required for teacher licensure. The evaluation team, chaired by Teacher Education Specialist JoAnn Van Aernum, delivered a report to the campus in early December 2011, and a recommendation by the team was sent to the Board for consideration in their final decision.

“This current action taken by the Board of Teaching to provide UMC its full 7-year continuing approval clearly affirms the quality of our faculty and curriculum,” noted Jack Geller, Ph.D., head of the Liberal Arts and Education Department. “Equally important, it sets the stage for the addition and growth of the Elementary Education licensure program here at UMC,” he added.

The Board of Teaching, created in 1973, provides leadership for improvements in teacher education programs in order to assure that the state has well-qualified, professional teachers. The Governor appoints eleven members to the Board of Teaching: six classroom teachers, one higher education faculty member, one school administrator, and three members of the public, two of whom must have spent some time on a local school board. The Board determines the standards and practices that will serve the state's teachers and teacher preparation institutions. For more information, visit

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 26 bachelor’s degree programs, 18 minors, and 36 concentrations, including 10 online degrees, in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology. With an enrollment of 1,600 undergraduates from 25 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree. “Small Campus. Big Degree.” To learn more, visit

Spring truck weight restrictions begin March 9 for central frost zone

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Spring truck weight restrictions on state highways will begin Friday, March 9 for Minnesota's central frost zone, Winter load increases and overweight permits remain in place for the state's north-central and north frost zones.

MnDOT limits truck weights to prevent damage to roads weakened during the spring thaw.

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 5, 2012

MDA seeking candidates for Ag Water Quality Cert Advisory committee

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is seeking candidates to serve on an advisory committee to help develop the Minnesota Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program. The new program is the result of a January 17 agreement by Governor Mark Dayton and federal officials, with the goal of enhancing Minnesota’s water quality by accelerating adoption of on-farm water quality practices.

The committee will provide recommendations to MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson regarding the development of the program, as well as its particular features and focus. The committee will be convened and staffed by MDA, and will serve at Commissioner Frederickson’s discretion. Committee composition will be established by Commissioner Frederickson, with membership from the following:
• 2 farmers or ranchers;
• 2 representatives of general farm organizations;
• 3 representatives of commodity or livestock organizations;
• 1 representative of agriculture-related business;
• 1 representative of crop consultants or advisors;
• 2 representatives of environmental organizations;
• 2 representatives of conservation organizations; and
• 2 representatives of local government units.

In addition, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, the University of Minnesota Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will be invited to provide technical support.

Commissioner Frederickson will select members following the open appointment process in Minnesota Statutes 15.0597. Ideal candidates will have relevant experience and expertise in agriculture, conservation and/or water quality management. Preference will be given to candidates with relevant experience and expertise in agriculture and water quality; experience in agricultural, conservation or water quality program implementation; and experience in Minnesota. In addition to the committee members, MDA may ask other technical experts to attend meetings to provide support. The committee will serve for the length of time necessary for development and early implementation of the program, but not more than two years. The first meeting will be held in early June.

Applications for the committee will be accepted by the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office from March 5 through April 16, 2012. The application can be submitted online at MDA’s website has more details about the committee at

Public meeting on Highway 11 construction

BEMIDJI, Minn. – The public is invited to attend a meeting Thursday, March 8, to discuss improvements planned for Highway 11 from Baudette to Clementson this year. The meeting is scheduled from 5 – 7 p.m. at the Lake of the Woods ambulance garage, 111 First Ave. SW, Baudette, Minn.

Jeremy Hadrava, MnDOT project engineer, and other engineering staff will be on hand to discuss project work schedules, time frames, traffic control and potential detour plans.

The Highway 11 project was originally scheduled to start in fall 2011, but was delayed due to bid letting.

To request an ASL or foreign language 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 also may send an email to

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

DNR, NWTF mentored women's turkey applications due April 2

First-time adult women turkey have the chance to go afield and learn from an experienced National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) volunteer during mentored hunts being offered this spring, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

"The adult women turkey hunters will learn life-long outdoor skills and how to be a responsible hunter," said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "Thanks to the NWTF, their outdoor coaches will help create the next generation of family oriented hunters."

Women are encouraged to sign up with a friend or adult daughter for an educational adventure in wild turkey hunting. An application and general information for the mid-May wild turkey hunt is available at The application deadline is midnight on Monday, April 2. Participants will be selected through a random lottery if oversubscribed.

This program is based on the successful mentored youth hunts where, during the last 10 years, more than 1,700 youth have been introduced to this unique, educational hunting experience. With women being one of the fasting growing segments of the hunting society, the need is there, Kurre said.

Most hunts will occur Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20, at several locations in Minnesota's turkey range, which generally covers the southern and western half of Minnesota. Hunts include a mandatory turkey clinic leading up to an actual hunt. All participants will hunt on private land, thanks to the generosity of private landowners and the NWTF volunteers who obtained permission.

To be eligible, a female hunter must be 18 on or before Saturday, May 19. All participants must possess a valid firearms safety certificate, purchase an apprentice hunter validation, or be born before Dec. 13, 1979. The program is for first-time turkey hunters only. Participants will be assigned a NWTF volunteer coach, who must accompany them throughout the entire hunt.

Participation in the hunts is only restricted by the number volunteers and private lands that are available. People who have an interest in providing a quality experience in turkey hunting, have hunting land and are members of NWTF, should contact the NWTF at for information about participating.

Sen. Franken to Host 2nd Annual Minnesota Delegation Hotdish Off

This Wednesday, March 7th, Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation will come together for Sen. Al Franken’s second annual hotdish competition. Sen. Franken started the friendly “Hotdish Off” last year as a way to bring the delegation together to put partisanship aside and focus on Minnesota.

Each participating delegation member will submit a hot dish—traditional Minnesota fare, similar to a casserole—on behalf of their office. Former Congressmen Vin Weber (R-Minn.) and Gerry Sikorski (D-Minn.) have agreed to judge the competition for the second year in a row and Minnesota State Society member Tom Geier will tally the votes and announce the winner. Last year, Sen. Klobuchar won the competition with her now famous “Taconite Tater-Tot Hotdish.”

The Minnesota Congressional Delegation 2012 “Hotdish Off” will be held from 1-2pm EST on Wednesday at the Capitol Visitor’s Center, room SVC 201/200 in Washington, DC

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spring truck weight restrictions

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Spring truck weight restrictions on state highways will begin March 5 for Minnesota's southeast and Twin Cities Metro area frost zones, and March 6 for the south frost zone.

Winter load increases and overweight permits remain in place for the state's central, north-central and north frost zones.

MnDOT limits truck weights to prevent damage to roads weakened during the spring thaw.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 1, 2012

NDSU Barley Research and Risk Management Featured at Carrington Workshop

Barley research at North Dakota State University and the Carrington Research Extension Center will be highlighted during a workshop on March 20 at the Carrington REC.

The workshop will begin with registration at 9:30 a.m. and the program starting at 10. Lunch and breaks will be served free of charge.

Featured will be a presentation about a new risk management tool by Joe Christianson, Cargill Malt global risk management specialist. Other topics and speakers are:

* Barley feed update - Vern Anderson, Carrington REC animal scientist

* Disease review and management - Robert Brueggeman, NDSU barley pathologist

* Production research review on weeds, fertility and rotations - Greg Endres, Carrington REC cropping specialist

* New generation variety development in barley and small grains - Richard Horsley and Martin Hochhalter, NDSU barley breeding program

* Barley quality in malting and brewing - Alberto Jimenez-Diaz, NDSU barley and malt quality project

* Business of barley production - Steve Metzger, Carrington REC farm business management instructor and coordinator

Sponsors include the American Malting Barley Association Inc., Anheuser-Busch Inc., Cargill Malt, NDSU Institute of Barley and Malt Sciences, Malteurop North America Inc., MillerCoors, North Dakota Barley Council, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, NDSU Extension Service, Carrington REC and Rahr Malting Co.

Lunch is free but preregistration is requested. To preregister, contact Linda Schuster at (701) 652-2951 or or Karen Hertsgaard at (701) 231-5384 or