Whether it’s corned beef and cabbage, green beer, or some other sort of gathering, this week-end is party time for some. St. Patrick’s Day is Sunday. Minneapolis made the list of top 20 St. Patrick’s Day party towns, coming in at #13. St. Paul came in at #20. Leading the way was Chicago, followed by Philadelphia and Madison, Wisconsin, with Boston and Tampa rounding out the top 5. Locally, police say when the “wearing of the green” falls on a week-end, it can make for busy times for them, usually resulting in more DWI arrests than normal. Police remind you to line up a sober ride for this week-end if you’re partaking in a St. Patty’ day party somewhere.

The DNR has set a number of programs and volunteer opportunities at state parks in Minnesota for the coming camping/visiting season! From bluebird nest monitors to photographing nature, butterflies to buffalo and more, you’re invited to contact the DNR to see what is available. Log on at: www.info.dnr.state.mn.us

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota recently compiled a list of top ten scams of 2018 that were reported. Online purchasing had the most reports out of the 800 last year. Phishing and employment were second. Employment scams topped the nationwide list. Online purchasing, the #1 scam in Minnesota, involved people thinking they
were getting a great deal on anything from autos to pets, clothing and more. Bogus items were found on ebay, Craigslist, Facebook and other direct seller to buyer sites. Other scams included debt collection, tech support, identity theft, tech support, and social security and Tax/IRS collection schemes. The Better Business Bureau says, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is, and you’ll get taken. Don’t given out any personal and financial info.

The Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture is reminding and encouraging area farmers to take part in the annual pesticide and fertilizer use survey. The phone survey this year is directed at wheat and hay growers. The survey should begin Monday the 18th and be done by April 5th . Data collected will be track the use of Ag chemicals on Minnesota farms and
provide guidance to educational and research programs.  If you have questions, visit the MDA website and look up pesticide and fertilizer use surveys at: www.mda.state.mn.us

Area state Representative Dean Urdahl reports that Minnesota has a Disaster Assistance Contingency Account, with no funds in it. Urdahl is co-authoring a bill which rectifies the problem by providing $20 million to the account both this year and next year. The account was created to allocate money to towns hit by natural disasters and to avoid having to call a special session to authorize appreciation, and costing the tax payers more money. Lilberals have proposed putting $10 million into the account, which Urdahl says would be insufficient based on last year’s use and this year’s flood predictions.

State Senator Andrew Lang of Olivia says the Senate passed an extension of the Minnesota Premium Security plan, known as reinsurance. The bill passed with bipartisan support and now awaits action in the house. Lang says it is not a fix all for overly high premiums people are charged for what are labeled as poor policies, but it is a useful tool to stop some steep increases people have faced on their bills. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, many people buying on the individual market can no longer afford to do so. Reports from people show that 60 year olds making $50,000 a year pay a minimum of one fifth of their income on health insurance, for policies with high deductibles. Reports also showed people earning $2400.00 a month paying $900.00 for a medical insurance policy with deductibles up to 6500.00.

How expensive has it gotten when it comes to getting medical help? A study from National Nurses United and the Minnesota Nurses association reveal that Minnesota Hospitals are charging an average of 212% more than the cost of patient care. Prices have increased 3 fold over the past 20 years, compared to consumer price index increases for other goods and services. The two groups say data suggests that hospitals have shifted their focus from patient care to making a profit.

An accident yesterday morning around 6 am took the life of an Ohio man. Anthony Thacker, of Portsmouth, Ohio stopped his minivan on highway 210 near Fergus Falls to clean the windshield when he was hit by Bryan Robinson of Golden Valley, North Dakota, who was not injured. That spun the minivan around and it was hit by a vehicle driven by Dustin Tomke of Fergus Falls, who was not injured. Thacker lost his life in the accident. A passenger, also from Ohio, was injured.

85 year old Donna Hedke of Grove City suffered life threatening injuries in an accident yesterday afternoon around 2 pm on highway 12 west of Litchfield. She was taken to St. Cloud, while a passenger, 88 year old Cliff Hedke, was injured and taken to the Hennepin County Med Center. They were westbound when they hit head on with a vehicle driven by a 17 year old male who was not identified. He was taken to the Hennepin Co. Med Center as well. A 14 year old in the vehicle, Kole Lindemann of Willmar was treated at the hospital in Litchfield.

A bus and a small SUV collided in Willmar around 8am yesterday morning. There were no injuries. The bus had 2 younger students on it. The SUV also had two passengers. The accident happened at Lakeland Drive and Willmar Avenue Southeast. The SUV was driven by Najma Hirshi, 24, of Willmar. She was coming off Lakeland Drive to Willmar Avenue as was the bus, which was behind the SUV, driven by 65 year old Paul Mensing of Atwater. They were going slow and there was minimal damage.

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