Monday, March 31, 2014

MDA to begin annual survey of farmers

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is encouraging farmers to take part in its annual pesticide and fertilizer use survey. The 2014 survey is directed to corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay producers. The data helps MDA track the use of agricultural chemicals on Minnesota farms and provides guidance to educational and research programs.

The survey process should begin on approximately April 14 and be completed by April 23. Questions will focus on the 2013 growing season and survey farmers on best management practices when it comes to nitrogen application and pesticide rates applied to corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. The annual survey is completely voluntary and no personal questions are asked of producers.

The MDA has conducted this annual survey for the past decade. And while Minnesota farmers may be getting calls from multiple agencies and companies conducting a variety of different surveys this time of year, the information gathered from this survey is critical for research purposes.

The survey is conducted for the MDA by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service out of their regional offices in Missouri.
If you have questions about the MDA’s annual survey, or if you wish to view results of previous surveys, visit the MDA website at Producers can also call the Minnesota Department of Agriculture at 612-327-2607 between 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday – Friday.

MnDOT offers tips on renting limousines, party buses for prom

ST. PAUL, Minn. — It’s that time of year when prom goers are out in full force, renting buses, limousines and other passenger vehicles to get to their destinations. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has some tips about renting vehicles so the trip is safe.

“One of the best things to remember is that the cheapest price doesn’t always mean it’s the best option,” according to Mike McKay, Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations, which licenses and regulates more than 400 limousine operators and 350 passenger carriers in the state.

In the limousine industry, there are many variances of quality and price. Shopping for a service based on price alone can mean the limo/bus won’t show up or be late, McKay said. It also can mean the limo/bus could break down on route to the prom or getting a chauffeur without the proper insurance.

McKay said limo/party bus renters can make sure the limo/bus operator is licensed and has liability insurance by checking with MnDOT. All for-hire motor carriers/limousine services are required to carry commercial insurance and register with the state. McKay said potential renters should ask to see copies of the vehicle’s most recent annual inspection report, limousine operator certificate, certificate of registration, and identification of authority card.

Other tips for choosing a safe and licensed limo/bus operator:
·         Shop for the best company. Check online reviews and the Better Business Bureau.
·         Choose your ride. Figure out exactly how many people will be in your group and that will determine the type of vehicle you need. Ask the company to show you the specific vehicle you will be renting.
·         Get a signed contract. Reliable and professional services will provide a signed service contract.
·         Read the contract carefully. The contract should include terms such as cost, deposit required, refund and tip policies, pick-up/drop-off times, arrival and departure locations, specific type of limo requested, and services expected.  

McKay also reminds renters that alcoholic beverages are not allowed for minors. If alcoholic beverages are found in limos and buses carrying only minors, the driver is normally required to return the passengers to their original pick-up location.

MnDOT routinely conducts inspections of limos/buses during prom nights with the State Patrol, McKay added.

For questions, contact MnDOT’s Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations at 651-215-6330.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lane closures planned on I-94 west of Alexandria in early April

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Motorists traveling on Interstate 94 west of Alexandria near Lake Latoka will encounter intermittent delays and lane closures during the first two weeks of April.

Traffic will reduce to a single lane in each direction during daytime hours through mid-April while crews work near the interstate as part of the CapX2020 transmission line project.

On Tuesday, April 1, and Wednesday, April 2, weather-permitting, crews will use a helicopter to string power lines over the interstate. Traffic may stop temporarily during this work. State Patrol troopers will be on site to assist travelers through the work zone. Motorists should slow down, be alert and keep traveling through the work zone, unless directed by law enforcement.

Several I-94 wire crossings will occur between Alexandria and Barnesville this summer and fall. Additional information will be released in advance of those crossings.

For more information about the CapX2020 project, call 1-866-876-2869 or visit

For real-time travel information anywhere in Minnesota, visit or dial 5-1-1.

Monday, March 24, 2014

DNR will highlight fishing, hunting and hiking at Northwest Sportshow

Outdoor enthusiasts can learn about fishing, hunting, hiking trails, water safety and much more by visiting the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources booths at the Northwest Sportshow, March 26-30 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

DNR specialists will be available to answer questions at the main DNR booth located in Lobby D. The DNR License Center will be selling state parks stickers, and fishing and hunting licenses at the booth.

Attendees also can visit the DNR’s invasive species information booth in Lobby C to pick up educational materials and talk with invasive species staff and conservation officers specializing in invasive species issues. The booth will have invasive species specimens and models for visitors to examine. 

The DNR Enforcement Division will offer an interactive LaserShot shooting range for youth and adults. Participants can test their skills at one of four shooting simulation stations. The range is located in Room 101J, next to the Lobby C entrance.

Youth interested in learning how to safely ride an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) can take a ride on the ATV safety training simulator also located in Room 101J. Staff will be available to demonstrate how to properly fit the vehicle to the rider and answer questions about safety equipment and gear.

Business owners who are required to complete lake service provider training can attend a class on Thursday, March 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  For more information about the training and to register for the class, visit the DNR website at

Daily admission to the Northwest Sportshow is $11 for adults 16 and older. Youth 15 and younger are admitted for free.  On March 27, seniors 62 and older will receive a discounted admission of $8 for the day.  Active military personnel receive free admission with a valid ID.

Exception to seasonal truck weight restrictions in north frost zone

ST. PAUL, Minn. – An exception to the spring truck weight restrictions is in effect on two sections of Highway 1 in Minnesota's north frost zone, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. One section is in the city of Red Lake from the Fishery Road to Prestons Road and the other is 11 miles west of Ely to the city of Ely.

Highway 1 will have a spring load restriction of seven tons instead of the usual 10 tons. This exception will remain in place until further notice.

MnDOT limits truck weights to prevent damage to roads weakened during the spring thaw. Ending dates for spring load restrictions will be established by monitoring roadway strength as weather conditions change.

The north zone extends south from the Canadian border to a line following and including TH 1 at the North Dakota state line east to TH 89, TH 89 south to US 2, US 2 east to TH 33, TH 33 south through Cloquet to I-35, I-35 north to the Carlton/St. Louis county line, and then south on that line to the Wisconsin state line.

Road restriction maps showing the locations of weight-restricted routes and state highways open to maximum 10-ton axle weights are listed at Click on "Seasonal Load Limits," and then "Spring Load Restrictions" for the most up-to-date information.

The information is also available by calling MnDOT’s 24-hour automated message center at 1-800-723-6543 in the United States and Canada or by calling 651-366-5400.