Thursday, March 26, 2015

BBB Offers Tips for Hiring a Professional Organizer

Burnsville, Minnesota – March 26 – The start of spring and the promise of warmer weather to come kindles enthusiasm in many people to create more organized living and work spaces But when it comes time to actually do the work, we realize organization takes more patience than some of us have and a professional organizer might be helpful. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) offers tips to home and business owners before hiring someone to come into their space to sort through valuables and confidential paperwork. 

The following tips were compiled by Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota in consultation with the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)-Minnesota Chapter:
·         Check out companies at before signing a contract.
·         Ask the organizer if they are a member of NAPO MN and about their credentials, experience and training.
·         Find out if the organizer is insured.
·         Ask the organizer to explain their process so you can gain a clear understanding of what they do and how they go about doing it.
·         Ask how you can best prepare for a professional organizer to come to your home or workplace. Find out specifically what the organizer needs from you (you may need to commit personal time to get your home prepared for the organization process).
·         Ask about the fee structure – is it by the job or by the hour?  Be clear about your budget and do not sign any contracts until you fully understand what is or isn’t included in the service.
·         Ask for clarification on what their services include, for example, purchasing of supplies for the organization process.
·         Think about what kind of person you want to work with (example: will you work best in a drill sergeant environment or with someone who treats you like a friend?). Ask the potential organizer about their style.
·         Ask for an estimate on how long the projects you have in mind will take to complete. Inquire about what might change/modify the timeline.
·         Find out how the organizer disposes of items removed from your home or office and if there are additional fees (are the items recycled, donated, shredded?). Make sure you feel comfortable with the plan – especially if items are personal or confidential in nature.
·         You can also visit to review their code of ethics and to search for an organizer.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Learn to camp, paddle and more at Minnesota state parks

People who lack the experience or equipment to go on a camping, canoeing or fishing trip should consider signing up for one of the many introductory programs offered at Minnesota state parks and trails in 2015.

Reservations are now being taken for the following beginner-level programs, which start in June and continue through the end of August:
  • I Can Camp! – Develop (or brush up on) fire-starting and camp cooking skills, and stay overnight in tents, complete with air mattresses, that sleep up to six people ($50 for one-night programs or $75 for two-night programs).
  • I Can Paddle! – Get out on the water for some guided canoeing, kayaking, sea kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding practice ($15 per boat and up).
  • I Can Climb! – Experience the thrill of rock climbing with instruction provided by trained professionals from Vertical Endeavors Guided Adventures ($10 per person).
  • I Can Mountain Bike! – Learn riding techniques and ride mountain bike trails with guides from the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Club ($25 per person).
The Minnesota state parks and trails I Can! series also includes I Can Fish! and Archery in the Parks programs, which are both free and require no reservation.

“If you’d like to create some unforgettable outdoor experiences with your kids but don’t know how to get started, the I Can! skill-building programs are designed for you,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails. “Minnesota has amazing state parks, trails and water trails, and we want to spark interest in more families to get out and enjoy them.”

No experience is necessary for any of these programs. Instruction and essential equipment is provided. Vehicle permits ($5 for a one-day permit or $25 for a year-round permit) are required to enter Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Registration for the I Can Camp! programs includes a one-day permit.

Registration and more information
For more information about any of the programs—including program dates, times, locations, and minimum age requirements, visit or contact the DNR Information Center at or call 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

To register, visit or call 866-857-2757 (8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, except holidays).

The series is made possible with funding from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the three-eighths percent sales tax revenue that may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

MnDOT seeks public input on Area Transportation Improvement Program Plan

BEMIDJI, Minn. – The public and other stakeholders are invited to provide input on the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Area Transportation Improvement Program Plan for construction projects from 2016-2019. The public comment period for the ATIP is March 18 to April 18, 2015.

The ATIP is a four-year program for state and federally funded transportation investments of significance for the northwestern region of Minnesota. Each draft ATIP includes a prioritized list of projects that help solve transportation problems and achieve long-range objectives for the area. The principal investment emphasis is on preservation, safety and operational improvements in the existing transportation system and seeks balanced decisions, which promote effective and efficient transportation.

The ATIP is the result of recommendations that come from the Area Transportation Partnership, which is comprised of members from cities, counties, townships, tribal governments, transit providers, metropolitan planning organizations, regional development commissions and Mn/DOT. The ATPs integrate state and local priorities within their areas and submit those projects for inclusion into the draft State Transportation Improvement Plan.

To view and provide comment on the ATIP, visit To request a hard copy of the plan, contact Darren Laesch, Mn/DOT District 2 Planning Director, at 218-755-6554 or

Monday, March 16, 2015

Minnesota likely to see early start to fire season

With the recent warm weather, Department of Natural Resources fire behavior analysts are predicting an early start to Minnesota’s spring fire season.

Predicted temperatures this week in the 40s and 50s will likely take care of what little snowpack the state had this winter. Plus, forecasts for the next two weeks show mild temperatures and a dry weather pattern. Minnesota also had a relatively dry fall and very little snow this winter. All of this points toward abnormally dry conditions in early spring. 

In addition to predicting an early start to the spring fire season, fire behavior analysts say that based on past weather patterns and fire occurrence, Minnesota will likely have an average to above average number of fires this spring. Without the snow compaction, grass fires will move faster and be more intense. And, with dry conditions, Minnesota could face fire mop-up and peat fire issues.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting above average temperatures and average precipitation for Minnesota this spring. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows most of the state as abnormally dry with some areas of moderate drought.  And, predictive services at the National Interagency Coordination Center in Boise, Idaho says Minnesota will likely see above normal fire potential in March, April and May.

But, even during dry periods, timely rain can lessen fire danger over the short term. Spring fires are predominantly wind-driven in fine fuels like leaves and grasses. These fine fuels respond quickly to changes in the weather. Spring fire danger will vary with the weather, so fire activity could be subdued with well-timed periodic rain.

“Because the snow is disappearing quickly, we urge people to check fire conditions and burning regulations prior to doing any open burning and to use extra caution when burning,” said Tom Fasteland, Minnesota Interagency Fire Center coordinator.

With an early start to spring, open burning restrictions are likely to be implemented earlier than normal. Residents may need to find alternatives to burning or wait until after green-up when it is safer to burn. The DNR restricts open burning shortly after snow melt when exposed dead grass and brush can light easily and burn quickly. Once spring open burning restrictions are in place the state will not give out burning permits for burning brush or yard waste. The restrictions normally last from four to six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs.

For more information on fire conditions and burning restrictions, visit the Minnesota DNR website,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Speed limit to increase on Highway 32 in northwest Minnesota

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – The speed limit on Highway 32 in northwest Minnesota will increase from 55 to 60 miles per hour the week of March 16, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Highway 32 runs from Highway 34 near Barnesville to Highway 11 at Greenbush. It is one of several two-lane highways to receive higher speed limits this year. The new speed limits take effect when new speed limit signs are posted.
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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

RRV Development Association Celebrates 77th Annual Honor Banquet

The Red River Valley Development Association’s 77th Annual Honor Banquet will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2015, beginning at noon in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center, University of Minnesota, Crookston.  Tickets for the noon banquet are available for $18.00 from the Extension Regional Office, Crookston, and can be reserved by calling 1-888-241-0781 by March 20.  Payment can be made at the door.

Those honored at the March 28th banquet were selected for the good example they have set through volunteering, community service, farming or agricultural operations, and their commitment to conserving natural resources.  Funding for the Red River Valley Development Association is provided by 14 counties in northwest Minnesota.

The Northwest Minnesota Youth Leadership Awards will be presented to four youth between the ages of 17 and 21 who submitted applications and essays describing their leadership contributions in their communities.

The Red River Valley Development Association includes Directors from 14 counties in northwest Minnesota appointment by the county boards of commissioners.  The 2015 Directors and honorees are:
Bruce Hein
Lloyd and Linda Jirava
Clarice Schmidt
Bruce and Joy Bang
Allen Paulson
Mark and Sharon Larson
Gary Johnson
James and Betty Younggren
Lake of the Woods
Ken Horntvedt
Lynda Annoreno
Amy Ballard
Jean Nelson
Anthony and Patty Maruska
Gary Satre
Richard and Pat Moen
Burton Rockstad
Dan and Nancy Grundhovd
East Otter Tail
Roger Fremming
Randall and LuAnn Carow
West Otter Tail
Daniel Roehl
John and Michelle Lindquist

Gladys Hallstrom
Alan and Deb Swanson
East Polk
Jerry Erickson
Robert and Janet Landsverk
Donald and Janice Landsverk
West Polk
Curt Knutson
Reed and Sheryl Tinkham
Red Lake
Larry Johnson
Tim and Janet Hagl
Red Lake Falls
Selvin “Buddy” Erickson
Samuel and Lola Grafstrom
Milan Drewlow
Gerald and Cathy Nordick

For more information, contact Deborah M. Zak, Regional Director, Northwest, Extension Regional Office, Crookston.  Phone:  218-281-8684 or 1-888-241-0781.  E-mail: