Friday, February 27, 2015

Speed limit to increase on some Minnesota highways

ST. PAUL, Minn. - About 340 miles of highways in northern and western Minnesota will get higher speed limits in the next few weeks, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The two-lane highways, currently posted at 55 miles per hour, will increase to 60. The new speed limits take effect when new speed limit signs are posted.

In west central Minnesota, speeds will go up this month on the following highways:
·         Highway 55 from the North Dakota line to Brooten
·         Highway 54 from Elbow Lake to Highway 27
·         Highway 79 from Elbow Lake to Interstate 94
·         Highway 106 from Highway 10 to Deer Creek

The increases are the result of a 2014 legislative mandate for MnDOT to study the posted speed limits on all two-lane highways having a speed limit of 55 mph over a five-year period and make recommendations about changes. The first report of MnDOT’s findings was presented to the Legislature in January. Reports will be presented each year for the next four years.

All of the increases are based on a traffic and engineering investigation of each location, which looks at past crash rates, physical attributes of the highway such as shoulder widths and access points, and what speed drivers are currently driving.

“A speed study gives MnDOT the opportunity to review speed limits on all 55 mph roads in Minnesota and identify the ones that can support a higher speed limit without compromising safety,” said Julie Whitcher, assistant state traffic safety engineer.

In some cases, the study results in the speed limit are staying the same. About 570 miles were evaluated in 2014 and 340 miles were increased.

Minnesota has about 7,000 miles of two-lane, two-way roads that will be studied in the next four years. This year, about 1,500 miles of highways will be studied.

A copy of the legislative report is online at

Monday, February 23, 2015

2015 spring light goose hunt begins March 1

A spring conservation hunt on light geese will open Sunday, March 1, and run through Thursday, April 30. Light geese are snow geese, blue-phased snow geese and the smaller Ross’s goose.

A federal conservation order, which permits the take of light geese during the spring, is in place to reduce the population of snow geese and Ross’s geese that breed in Arctic coastal areas and around Hudson Bay. High populations of the birds have caused considerable habitat damage to these fragile ecosystems.

Minnesota has participated in this spring conservation action each year since 2000. Harvest of light geese in Minnesota has varied from a few hundred to several thousand birds each spring.
To participate, a spring light goose permit is required and may be obtained through any Minnesota DNR license agent, via telephone at 888-665-4236 or online at There is a $3.50 application fee to cover the cost of issuing the permit. No other license, stamp or permit is required.

A summary of regulations is available at, from license vendors, DNR wildlife offices or by calling the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Peterson Seeking Entries to Congressional Art Competition

WASHINGTON – Congressman Collin C. Peterson is inviting Seventh District high school students to submit artwork for the 2015 Congressional Art Competition.

The Congressional Art Competition is open to all high school students and the winning pieces are featured for one year in the Cannon Tunnel, which connects the House Office Buildings to the U.S. Capitol.

“I encourage students from across the district to enter this competition,” Peterson said. “The winning artwork is seen by thousands of visitors to the U.S. Capitol and is a great way for young artists to show their talent.”

The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 as an opportunity for Members of Congress to recognize and encourage the artistic talent of their young constituents. Since then, more than 650,000 high-school students have participated in the nation-wide contest. 

Submitted artwork may be up to 28 inches x 28 inches x 4 inches (including the frame) and may be up to 3 inches in depth. Accepted mediums include:
·       Paintings – including oil, acrylics and watercolor
·       Drawings – including pastels, colored pencil, pencil, charcoal, ink and markers
·       Collage (two-dimensional)
·       Prints – including lithographs, silkscreen and block prints
·       Mixed Media
·       Computer Generated Art
·       Photography

All entries must be original in concept, design and execution. Artwork that is a reproduction of another artist’s work, including photographs, does not qualify for this competition.

To best ensure accessibility for all students, Peterson’s office will be accepting all Congressional Art Competition submissions online. Selection of the winning piece, made in early May, will be determined based upon the photograph submitted with the application.

To apply for the Congressional Art Competition, please submit a photograph of the artwork with the following information to
·       Student Name
·       Address
·       Phone Number
·       Artwork Title
·       Medium

The deadline for all submissions is Friday, April 24, 2015.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

State One Act Play Festival Results

After watching, listening, and then individually critiquing eight Class A dramatic productions, a panel of judges rated five of them “starred performances” on Thursday, February 12, during the 2015 State One Act Play Festival sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League. The two-day festival is conducted at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium on the St. Catherine University campus in St. Paul.

The top eight Class A productions from across the state took the stage throughout the day. The five schools whose performances were cited for “starred performances” were (in no particular order)

Representing Section 1, Triton of Dodge Center’s “starred performance” of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) was written by Adam Long, Daniela Singer, and Jess Winfield. It was directed by John Schreiber and Vicki Reiser. The school was making its third appearance and earned its first “starred” rating. This play parodies and pays homage to the plays of William Shakespeare by blending actual Shakespearean text with contemporary references. And who better to give us this tour of Shakespeare than a group of absurdly incompetent actors? Since its beginning in 1987, it has become one of the world’s most popular shows. Cast members were Preston Pflaum, Charles Groll, Jacob Knutson, Kiana Komatsu, Emmily Wilson, Rhylan Peterson, Noah Woxland, Jacelyn Schley, Larissa Lumsden, Connor Kelley, and Desirae Tangen. Support was provided by Taylor Schandorff, Leah Pflaum, Grace Lumsden, Kasey Redman, and Matt Hoberg.

Representing Section 2, Maple River of Mapleton’s “starred performance” of Radium Girls by D.W. Gregory was directed by Sarah Lippert. During the 1920's, radium was commonly used in paint, household products, and even for medicinal purposes. This play is based on the true story of one young dial-painter from a U.S. radium factory, whose personal suffering and sacrifices helped expose the truth about the dangers of radium poisoning. In a "David vs. Goliath" type fight with the big business, Grace Fryer's story is as relevant today as it was almost one hundred years ago. The school was making its third appearance and earned its first “starred” rating. Cast members Isaiah Lippert, Gwen Ward, Olivia Lippert, Lee Schauer, Charles Stenzel, Hannah Murphy, Macy Wagner, Micheala Urban, Emily Larson, Breanna Barkosky, Elias Bonnett, Ian Frese, Carllie Wingen, Damion Dolsen, and Kaleb Krengel. Crew members were Grace Diel, Caitlin Jewison, Jack Larson, Moriah Lippert, and Anna Remes. 

Representing Section 5, Sauk Centre’s “starred performance” of The Laramie Project was directed by Margaret Kitterman. The play was written by Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Group. Laramie, Wyoming was the site of a brutal murder of a gay college student in 1998. Two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, were charged with the kidnapping, assault, and murder of Matthew Shepard. Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theatre Group traveled to Laramie and conducted interviews with the people living there. The Laramie Project is about the town, its citizens, and their reactions to Matthew Shepard’s murder.  Cast members were Riley Akervik, Charlie Barhorst, Ayden Berg, Rebecca Engel, Jamie Jennissen, Rachael Kloth, Jake Kluver, Grace Knoblach, Cole McElwain, Richard Polipnick, Noah Polipnick, Lilly Satterlee, Emma Quistorff, and Briana Ziemer. Support personnel were Emily Primus, Lizzie Wiener, Karla Zwack, and Daphne Meltners. This was the school’s 10th festival appearance and it’s fifth “starred” rating. The school earned previous top ratings in 1975, 1976, 2007, and 2013.

Representing Section 6, Wadena-Deer Creek’s “starred performance” of The Chair Play earned the school its sixth “starred” rating in its 11th appearance under this name. Wadena made one additional appearance in 1969. The play, written by Alan Haehnel, was directed by Jay W. Patterson. In this production, the playwright uses the symbol of a simple chair to explore the condition of the human heart. What is it that causes an individual or a country to want something so badly that they are willing to desperately hurt others to get it? Perhaps it is a thirst for power or control of lands, perhaps it is pride, envy, or greed. History is full of these moments; ideologies embraced, ideas that spawn a darkness upon mankind, and, as a result, great harms etch their way into the fabric of humanity. And then, inevitably, the end game brings everything into focus. Cast members were Hope Norenberg, Isaac Berger, Michael Small, Taylor Dirks, Hope Dumpprope, Samantha Kirkland, Alyssa Gilster, David Wegscheid, Anissa Mench, Beth Schmitz, Elizabeth Peterson, Mitchell Haman, Esther Berger, Devyn Norenberg, Grace Mertens, and Michael Schmidt. Support personnel were Derek Plautz, Logan Taggart, and Jasmyn Wood. Wadena-Deer Creek earned its previous top ratings in 1998, 2001, 2002, 2006, and 2007.

Representing Section 7, East Central’s “starred performance” of The Ice Wolf by Joanna H. Kraus was directed by Kathleen M. Ebnet and Richard Ebnet. East Central was making its eighth festival appearance and earned its fifth “starred” rating. The school earned its other top ratings in 1989, 2002, 2004, and 2012. This story comes from the East Coast Hudson Bay Inuit and it’s an authentic tale of a pale-faced child exiled by her own people because she was "Anatou, the different one." In a village ruled by spirits, shamans, superstition and myth, such a different one has no place. During a famine in which her parents disappear in a storm, Anatou is cast out. She seeks out the forest, into which no Inuit goes, and begs the Wood God to turn her into a wolf. Cast members were Molly Nygren, Sadie Shervheim, Cody Watrin, Rene' Nelson, Alex Finch, Derek Shervheim, Mack Nelson, Melody Kosbab, Aubrey Shervheim, Michelle Clennon, Ashley Nelson, Kali Finch, Ellie Juyun Park, and Phillip Jansen. Support personnel were David Hormillosa and Kalyn Nelson.

The Minnesota State High School League State One Act Play Festival does not involve direct competition. Judges rate the plays according to specific criteria, including pace, blocking, costuming, and projection of the play’s meaning. Each production is limited to 10 minutes of stage preparation and 35 minutes of actual performance.

The judges consult after each production and then openly critique each in front of the cast, crew, and audience. “Starred performance” ratings are determined by private balloting of the judges. One school from each of eight sections in each class gets to perform at the state level. Three hundred teams participated in One Act Play this season, 208 in Class A and 92 in Class AA

Each cast and crew member involved with these three productions was also presented a Spotlight on the Arts Award of Excellence recognition pin. This is a fine arts recognition award created by Wells Fargo, the League’s premier sponsor, in cooperation with the League. The casts and crews were also awarded a handsome acrylic trophy incorporating the Spotlight on the Arts logo.

Friday, February 6, 2015

MnDOT seeks public input for statewide bicycle system plan

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation is seeking public input on its Statewide Bicycle System Plan during a series of statewide meetings in February and March. The plan will identify a statewide system of bicycle routes, improve existing facilities and refine MnDOT’s bicycle planning process.

During the meetings, participants will provide specific input at activity stations and get the latest project news and updates. The information will help guide MnDOT in its next steps for the plan.

Meetings will be held at these locations:

·         Feb. 9 in Fergus Falls – West Central Initiative Conference Room, 1000 Western Ave.
·         Feb. 11 in Minneapolis – University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach Engagement Center, Room 105, 2001 Plymouth Ave N.
·         Feb. 18 in Bemidji – Hampton Inn and Suites, Sunken Island Room, 1019 Paul Bunyan Dr. SE
·         Feb. 19 in Granite Falls – Kilowatt Community Center, 600 Kilowatt Dr.
·         Feb. 24 in Mankato – Blue Earth County Library Auditorium, 100 E. Main St.
·         Feb. 25 in St. Paul – Neighborhood House at Wellstone Center, Westside Room, 179 Robie St. E
·         Feb. 26 in Duluth – City Hall, room 303, 411 W. First St.
·         March 11 in Rochester – University Center Rochester, Heintz Center Classroom, HA 104. Park in the east lot of Heintz Center, enter door H-9, 1926 College View Road E.
·         March 12 in St. Cloud – Whitney Senior Center, Kelly/Voltuck/Nikle Rooms, 1527 Northway Dr.

All meetings will be from 5 to 7 p.m.

Project team members and planning partners will be available for questions. Kids’ activities and snacks will be provided.

Interested persons also may submit comments on the project website at, by email to or by mail to Greta Alquist, MnDOT Office of Transit MS 315, 395 John Ireland Blvd., St. Paul, MN, 55155.

A first round of statewide meetings was held in spring 2014. MnDOT received more than 3,000 comments on routes for the statewide network, ideas for the kinds of facilities that should be developed and locations where MnDOT should invest.

“Minnesota has a great bicycling culture. Throughout our process people from across the state were active in letting us know where and how we can make good bicycle-related investments,” said Tim Mitchell, MnDOT bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. “We hope anyone interested in bicycling will help us with our next steps as we continue to work towards improving bicycling throughout the state.”

To request an ASL or foreign language interpreter, or other reasonable accommodation during the meeting, call Janet Miller at 651-366-4720 or 1-800-657-3774 (Greater Minnesota); 711 or 1-800-627-3529 (Minnesota Relay). Alternatively, email Please request at least one week in advance.

For more information on the project, visit