Tuesday, October 30, 2012

MN Sec of State Announces State Canvassing Board Members

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

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

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

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

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

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

NW MN Motorists buckle up 73.9 percent, survey says

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regional Seat Belt Use Rates

East Central Minnesota:

§ 85.1 percent (first time regional belt use survey)

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

Northeast Minnesota:

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

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

Northwest Minnesota:

§ 73.9 percent, up from 65.8 percent in 2011.

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

Southeast Minnesota:

§ 86.7 percent, up from 84.7 percent in 2011.

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


South Central Minnesota

§ 84.7 percent, up from 73.2 percent in 2011.

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

 Southwest Minnesota

§ 82.5 percent, up from 81.1 percent in 2011.

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

West Central Minnesota:

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

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

Charting Minnesota Seat Belt Use Rates and Unbelted Deaths

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

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

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

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

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

State venison donation program available for deer hunters

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

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

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

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


Free from signs of illness;


Field dressed with the hide intact;


Free of visible decomposition or contamination; and

Properly identified with a Minnesota DNR registration tag.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hwy 113 culvert replacement project begins Oct. 30

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

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

The Minnesota Department of Transportation urges motorists to always drive with caution, slow down in work zones and never enter a road blocked with barriers or cones. For statewide travel information, visit www.511mn.org, call 5-1-1 or log on to www.mndot.gov.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cold Weather Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 15, 2012

New penalties for deer baiting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 12, 2012

Highway 59 detour removal scheduled for Saturday

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

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

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

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

The Minnesota Department of Transportation urges motorists to always drive with caution, slow down in work zones and never enter a road blocked with barriers or cones. For statewide travel information, visit www.511mn.org, call 5-1-1 or log on to www.mndot.gov.

Highway 10 turn lane project begins Monday in Lake Park

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Motorists on Highway 10 in Lake Park will experience lane closures and access restrictions when a turn lane project begins Monday, Oct. 15.

Crews will be constructing right and left turn lanes from Highway 10 to Raider Road, which is currently under construction. When complete, Raider Road will improve access between Highway 10 and the new Lake Park-Audubon High School.

The project will be done in three phases, each taking approximately three to four days.
·  On Monday, crews will close one westbound lane of Highway 10 while a right turn lane is installed.
·  Crews will then close one eastbound and one westbound lane while they work in the median. Motorists will not be able to access the median crossing at Askelson Drive during this phase of the project.
·  The final phase involves closing one eastbound lane. Motorists will not be able to access Askelson Drive from Highway 10.

A second portion of the project will be constructed next summer. Crews will build a frontage road on the south side of Highway 10 from Askelson Drive to Becker County Road 7.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation urges motorists to always drive with caution, slow down in work zones and never enter a road blocked with barriers or cones. For statewide travel information, visit www.511mn.org, call 5-1-1 or log on to www.mndot.gov.

MN Voter Pre-Registration Deadline Tuesday, October 16

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Oct. 12, 2012—Secretary of State Mark Ritchie today reminded Minnesotans that they only have until end of business on Tuesday, October 16  to pre-register to vote for the November 6  General Election.  To pre-register a voter’s registration application must be received by the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State or their county/municipal election official on or before Tuesday.
"Minnesotans should use the online voter registration lookup at www.mnvotes.org to see if their registration is current and to download a voter registration application, if needed,” said Secretary Ritchie.  “If voters miss this deadline, they can still register at their polling place on Election Day.”

CRES at UMC awarded Grant

CROOKSTON, Minn. – The Bremer Foundation has awarded a grant for $50,000 to the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (CRES) at the University of Minnesota, Crookston.  The grant, which provides $25,000 each year for two years, offers operational support to extend the unique entrepreneurial assistance services and programming of CRES to northwestern Minnesota. It will also focus on developing entrepreneurial awareness among area high school and U of M, Crookston students.  Susan Brorson, head of the Business Department serves as the principal investigator for the grant which was written by Kevin Cooper, who serves as director of CRES, and Rachel Lundbohm, the Center’s assistant director.

 “We want to engage students and assist businesses by providing technical assistance to area entrepreneurs and conducting valuable research related to entrepreneurship,” explains Lundbohm. “Encouraging students interested in entrepreneurship while getting them involved in the region is also a priority. We appreciate this award from Bremer to support our passion for entrepreneurship and to help us provide assistance to entrepreneurs and businesses in the region.”

Goals of CRES for the next two years include entrepreneurial and small business consulting, community education and outreach that facilitates entrepreneurial networking, and the dissemination of rural entrepreneurship research.

The work of CRES positively impacts entrepreneurs and small businesses in northwest Minnesota by providing no-cost technical assistance to these individuals.  Entrepreneurs, companies, and non-profit organizations receiving the assistance of CRES have provided positive feedback regarding their experience with the program. Students who have worked on CRES-initiated projects have also received valuable experience, further contributing to their education and professional understanding.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Grant funds now available for sustainable farming innovations

ST. PAUL, Minn.  – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program will award up to $100,000 in 2013 for on-farm sustainable agriculture research or demonstration projects.

The MDA is now accepting applications for the grant program which promotes environmental stewardship and conservation of resources and strives to improve profitability and quality of life on farms and in rural areas.

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson says the MDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program has helped move new ideas and concepts into viable production practices.

“With these grants, farmers and researchers have the opportunity to pursue their ideas, track the results and then share this valuable information with others,” said Frederickson. “For example, we’ve seen the development of high tunnel systems to increase fruit production and new successes with cover crops.”

Grant applications are available on the MDA website at http://go.usa.gov/YBSj or by contacting the Agricultural Marketing and Development Division at 651-201-6012. Completed applications must be received by MDA no later than January 11, 2013.

Since 1989, the MDA Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program has awarded 281 grants. Examples of eligible projects include fruit and vegetable production, conservation tillage and weed management, integrated pest management, livestock production, organic farming, alternative energy crop production, and use of cover crops.

These and other grant projects are highlighted in the Greenbook, which is free and available at www.mda.state.mn.us/greenbook.

Piano Recital at UMC

CROOKSTON, Minn. – A solo piano recital featuring guest artist John McKay, D.M.A., will be held at the grand piano in Evergreen Hall on the University of Minnesota, Crookston on Tuesday, October 23, 2012. McKay, who’s career as a recitalist, collaborative musician, and soloist with the orchestra spans more than five decades, will be in concert beginning at 7 p.m. The recital is free and the public is welcome to attend. Evergreen Hall is located on the south side of the Crookston campus.

The program will feature music by Mozart (including the brilliant Sonata in D major, K. 311), Chopin (including the Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, op. 47), and Ravel (three movements from "Miroirs").

McKay is an American pianist and music educator of Canadian birth who has performed in concerts, recitals and on radio and television broadcasts throughout North America and Europe. Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, he graduated from McGill University. He earned graduate degrees at the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Eugene List and David Burge. McKay spent most of the sixties in Europe studying and concertizing widely.

He taught at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., where he taught piano and the history of music for 28 years. For 17 of those years, he also directed Minnesota Valley Sommarfest, a festival of chamber music held every July at Gustavus. He continues to be in demand as a recitalist.

McKay is married to Sara Hayden McKay, who directs the St. Peter Choral Society and the couple was honored in 2000 by the Minnesota State Arts Board for their contributions to the arts.
For more information on the concert, contact George French, director of music and theater, at 218-281-8266 (gfrench@umn.edu). 

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 26 bachelor’s degree programs, 18 minors, and 39 concentrations on campus--as well as 10 degrees online--in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,800 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 www.umcrookston.edu.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

MN State Patrol Click It or Ticket patrols

Extra Click It or Ticket seat belt patrols take to the roads Oct. 12–26 statewide in Minnesota. The State Patrol is among nearly 400 Minnesota agencies increasing patrols to encourage motorists to buckle up. 
Nationally, over 10,000 agencies will be participating as well.  In the last three years on Minnesota roads, 377 motorists were not buckled up, representing 43 percent of the total motorist deaths. Of those killed, 41 percent were motorists ages 16–29.  “Non-belt use is a major problem with teens and young adults, and as a result, they are over-represented in traffic deaths,” says Sgt. Jesse Grabow, Public Information Officer. In Minnesota, drivers and passengers in all seating positions, including the back seat, are required to be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint. Seat belts must be worn correctly — low and snug across the hips; shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.
“We would rather see everyone buckling up than to have to write tickets,” says Sgt. Grabow. “We are encouraging that motorists be responsible users of the road and to help remind others to belt up.”
The Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement and education is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Death (TZD) initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.                     

Friday, October 5, 2012

Political campaign signs not permitted on state highway rights of way

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Placement of campaign signs and other unauthorized objects in state highway rights of way is prohibited under MN State Statute 160.27, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. In addition, campaign signs may not be placed on private property outside of the right of way limits without landowner consent.
Highway rights of way include the driving lanes, inside and outside shoulders, ditches and sight corners at intersections.

MnDOT crews will remove any unlawfully placed signs and impound them at one of its local maintenance truck stations.

Violation of the law is a misdemeanor. Civil penalties also may apply if the placement of such material contributes to a motor vehicle crash and injures a person or damages a motor vehicle that runs off the road.

In addition, the Minnesota Outdoor Advertising Control Act (MN State Statute 173.15) prohibits erecting advertising devices on public utility poles, trees and shrubs, and painting or drawing on rocks or natural features.

MnDOT administers these laws in a fair and impartial manner. Political campaign signs are treated in the same way as any other signs wrongly placed on state highway property by businesses, churches, private citizens or charitable groups.

For information regarding the proper placement of campaign signs or where to find signs that have been removed, contact the local MnDOT office at 218-755-6553 in Bemidji or 218-277-7950 in Crookston. See also www.dot.state.mn.us/govrel/rw_signs.html.

For real-time travel information anywhere in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Voter Pre-Registration Deadline is October 16

ST. PAUL, Minn.—October 3, 2012 –Secretary of State Mark Ritchie today reminded eligible Minnesota voters that the deadline to pre-register to vote in the upcoming general election is Tuesday, October 16.

“Minnesota voters can register at their polling place on Election Day, but pre-registering will save you time when you go vote on November 6,” Secretary Ritchie said.

State law requires Minnesotans to be registered at their current address before they are allowed to vote. Registrations remain current until voters move or change their names. Voters must re-register if they have not voted in the last four years.

Minnesotans may pre-register to vote by completing a voter registration application and submitting it to their county auditor's office or the Office of the Secretary of State. Applications are available online at www.mnvotes.org or at county government offices and public libraries.

Those who register prior to the deadline will appear in the roster at their polling place and will not have to provide additional documentation at the polling place on Election Day.  Minnesota allows eligible voters to register on Election Day as long as they provide proper proof of residence. For more information about voting eligibility requirements, visit www.mnvotes.org.

Voters can use the office’s online Voter Registration Lookup at www.mnvotes.org to quickly learn whether they are registered at their current address. This online tool will let voters know whether their polling place has changed due to redistricting and provide additional information such as how to register, the dates of the next election and a list of candidates.

Monday, October 1, 2012

MN specialty crop producers & programs get boost from USDA

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The State of Minnesota has been awarded more than $700,000 in 2012 Specialty Crop Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, tree nuts, flowers, and nursery plants (horticulture and floriculture). The grants will give producers of these crops a competitive edge in today’s marketplace.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for fiscal year 2012 supports initiatives that:
  • Increase nutritional knowledge and specialty crop consumption
  • Improve efficiency within the distribution system and reduce costs
  • Promote the development of good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices while encouraging audit fund cost-sharing for small farmers, packers and processors
  • Support research through standard and green initiatives
  • Enhance food safety
  • Develop new/improved seed varieties and specialty crops
  • Control pests and diseases
  • Create organic and sustainable production practices
  • Establish local and regional fresh food systems
  • Expand food access in underserved/food desert communities
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands received grants this year, totaling $55 million.

Visit www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp to review the 2012 project summaries and view a list of all the awards, including the Minnesota projects.