Friday, November 16, 2012

Single Lane Closure Planned for Monday in Fargo

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

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

Farmers, ag businesses and entrepreneurs targeted for new grant program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Members sought for state mental health advisory bodies

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

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

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

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

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

BBB Offers Tips to Black Friday Shoppers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

o Gift cards cannot expire for at least 5 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

New bike trail construction underway in Glendalough State Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

short term detours this week in Crookston & Thief River Falls

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 9, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qualifying families must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area. Funding is limited and is administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested households should contact their local service provider by calling 1-800-657-3710 or visiting the Energy Assistance section of the Commerce Department’s website ( The Minnesota EAP is supported by federal LIHEAP funding and administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.