Wednesday, November 25, 2015

MnDOT releases guidance for recreational drone purchasers, users

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Planning on buying or receiving a recreational drone this holiday season? The Minnesota Department of Transportation offers some guidelines for operators of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems or drones) to keep them and the people in the area of their UAV safe.
“Flying recreational drones can be fun. However, operators are responsible for the safe use of their UAV and for the safety of people who may be unaware a UAV is near them,” said Rick Braunig, MnDOT aviation safety and enforcement manager. “For instance, if that UAV has mechanical or control problems, it could go out of control and seriously injure innocent people or do damage to public and private property.”
Braunig said drone operators should follow these guidelines to ensure public safety:
  • Contact the airport or control tower if you are within five miles of an airport.
  • Stay within an approved operational area. UAV should not be flown above populated areas, sporting events or your neighbor’s backyard.
  • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions or low visibility.
  • Operate only during daytime hours and within line of sight. No binoculars, no moving vehicles. Use an observer, if necessary.
  • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below surrounding objects.
  • Fly more than 25 feet away from vehicles, boats, buildings or people.
  • Avoid manned aircraft. Land if one comes within the vicinity.
The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that as many as a million drones will be sold this 2015 holiday season. The agency cited more than 650 incidents this year where aircraft pilots encountered UAVs while in flight. 
Under Minnesota law, registration is not required for unmanned aircraft operated solely for recreational use. However, drones used for commercial purposes must be registered with MnDOT Office of Aeronautics. For more information, go to, or contact Rick Braunig at 651-234-7230.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

BBB’s Tips for Shopping Safely Online

Burnsville, MinnesotaNovember 24, 2015 –After Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, many shoppers go online to check out Cyber Monday specials. According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers expect to do almost half of their holiday shopping online this year. Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday, has grown popular among consumers in recent years, as they look to take advantage of post-holiday sales some retailers offer. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) offers their top ten tips for people looking to shop online, be it on Cyber Monday – November 30 – or throughout the busy holiday season:

1. Protect your computer – Your computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.

2. Stick to trustworthy websites – Research the seller’s reputation and track record for customer satisfaction at Look for BBB’s seal and other widely-recognized “trust marks” on retailer websites. Always remember to click on the seals to confirm that they are valid and check out customer reviews online, including those offered by Better Business Bureau.

3. Protect your personal information – Take the time to read the privacy policy of websites you visit and understand what personal information is being collected and how it will be used. If you don’t see a privacy policy posted, be aware your information may be sold without your permission.

4. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers found on less-traveled websites and in unsolicited emails sometimes advertise suspiciously low prices. When visiting a website, look for misspellings and grammatical errors, as these are signs the site might be fraudulent. Trust your instincts and be leery of unsolicited emails, as they may contain viruses or malware. Don’t be afraid to pass up “great deals” that might wind up costing you dearly instead of saving you money.

5. Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or a past transaction to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an email, BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the retailer you dealt with or your credit card provider to get to the bottom of the matter. Stay calm, don’t panic and always be protective of your personal and financial information.

6. Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying.

7. Pay with a credit card – It’s often best to use a credit card, because under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charge if he or she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card or merchandise they receive is damaged.

8. Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there should be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by email. Save a copy of that as well as any emails for future reference and as a record of your purchase.

9. Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by checking statements online regularly or by calling their credit card companies if fraud is suspected.

10. Know your rights – By law, a seller should ship your order within the time stated in its ads or over the phone. If the seller doesn’t promise a time, you can expect the item to be shipped within 30 days. If the seller is unable to ship within the promised time, they must notify you, provide a revised shipping date and offer you the chance to cancel for a full refund or accept the new shipping date.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

DNR to conduct a public hearing on Beaulieu Lake management

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will conduct a public hearing on a proposal to formally designate Beaulieu Lake in Mahnomen County for wildlife management.

The hearing will be held Tuesday, Dec. 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Bejou Community Center, 523 S. Main St. in Bejou.

Located 6 miles northeast of Bejou, Beaulieu Lake is a 283-acre shallow basin that has a history of excellent migratory waterfowl use. Currently, Beaulieu Lake is in a degraded condition due to a nonfunctioning outlet weir. The DNR plans to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ducks Unlimited to install a variable crest water control structure that will allow for water level management.

Designating Beaulieu Lake as a wildlife lake would give the DNR authority to conduct periodic temporary drawdowns using the proposed water control structure, and restrict minnow trapping, an activity that can disturb waterfowl. Temporary drawdowns can improve wildlife habitat by promoting sediment consolidation and re-establishment of aquatic plants.

Those unable to attend the hearing, but wanting additional information, should contact DNR wildlife lake specialist Tammy Baden, 218-846-8386. Written comments on the proposal will be accepted until Jan. 7. Written comments may be mailed to the Detroit Lakes area DNR office, 14583 County Highway 19, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501.

For more information on wildlife lake designations, visit

Friday, November 6, 2015

MnDOT’s 511 system adds real-time road condition cameras

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Motorists driving throughout the state this winter will benefit from the addition of cameras displaying real-time photos of road conditions from 92 locations to help them plan their travel. The photos are available on the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s 511 traveler information website at

These camera locations are in addition to the more than 800 traffic cameras already displayed on MnDOT’s 511 system.

The Road Weather Information Stations or RWIS are located along state roads and interstates. The stations are used by MnDOT’s maintenance crews but now the public also can take advantage of the live rotating camera shots. Various weather data is also available with the photos.

“RWIS is perfect for Greater Minnesota, where camera images were lacking in the past,” said Kelly Braunig, 511 program manager. “Seeing is believing, so the photos will help motorists know what the road conditions are for where they are traveling.”

The RWIS are among several recent enhancements to the 511 system. Other updates are:

·         Metro traffic map - Uses Google Speed technology to show congestion levels caused by crashes, closures, construction and maintenance projects within the Twin Cities metro area. Users can zoom in to specific incidents or events. This feature can be viewed by clicking on the quick link “Metro Traffic Map” on the left side of the full-featured version of the 511 website.
·         Greater Minnesota traffic speeds – Uses Google Speed technology to show congestion levels along Minnesota highways. Users can zoom in and out to specific cities. Users can view this by turning on the “Traffic Speeds” layer from the dropdown list on the full-featured version of the 511 website.
·         Weather warnings – Show warnings imported from National Weather Service sites. The warnings are displayed as a shaded overlay on top of the full-featured version of the 511 website in the areas that are affected. These warnings reinforce the message about the road condition report. For example, if a blizzard warning is issued for St. Louis County, a user would see that county shaded along with a weather warning icon. The user might also see “completely covered” or “travel not advised” road conditions in that area. This feature is available year-round and also shows severe storm, flash flood, high wind and tornado warnings.
·         Traffic delays – Is a Google Speed feature that recognizes when there is a backup due to an existing traffic event on 511. The events are highlighted with an orange glow. Clicking on the glowing icon will show details about how long a delay is expected. This is available only on interstates statewide.
·         511 smartphone app – Shows a detour route as a blue line. Detours can also be seen on the 511 website. This feature is available statewide.
“These improvements will give users more quality information,” said Braunig. “The more information we can give the public, the better chance they have to make good decisions on their travel.”

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Highway 59 projectopen house set for Dec. 2

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — The public is invited to an open house in Mahnomen to learn more about an upcoming Highway 59 resurfacing project.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to resurface Highway 59 from near Callaway to Winger and add a center-left turn lane through Mahnomen. The project is planned for 2017, although it may be completed in 2016 if funding becomes available.

The open house is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the White Earth Tribal and Community College, 2250 College Road, Mahnomen, Minn. A short presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Representatives from MnDOT and project consultant WSB will provide an overview of the project, answer questions and take input about the proposed designs.

MnDOT staff will also be available to answer questions about a 2016 resurfacing project planned on Highway 200 between Mahnomen and Roy Lake.

For more information, contact Shiloh Wahl, MnDOT project manager, at or 218-846-3630.

To learn more about MnDOT and transportation funding, visit MnDOT’s Get Connected website at: