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2018 Health Care Choices Available for Minnesota Medicare Recipients

November 3, 2017 – The Minnesota Board on Aging’s 2018 edition of the Minnesota Health Care Choices publication is now available online and in print to provide information for Minnesota Medicare recipients.

The annual guide is the only comprehensive, objective statewide publication with information about all Medicare plan options available on the open market for Minnesotans.

“Minnesotans are very fortunate to have this annual publication available which provides information to help consumers understand and explore Medicare options,” stated Linda Giersdorf, Executive Director of the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging.

Health Care Choices is available online at

The publication includes information on Medicare supplements, Medicare savings programs, Medicare Advantage plans and other Medicare health plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Minnesotans are reminded that Medicare Part D open enrollment began October 15 and ends December 7.

If you have questions or need further information, contact the Senior LinkAge Line® at 1-800-333-2433. The Senior LinkAge Line® is a free statewide service of the Minnesota Board on Aging and Area Agencies on Aging. The Senior LinkAge Line® is the federally-designated State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for Minnesota and is the place to call for Medicare and health insurance issues. Call 1-800-333-2433 for assistance or go to® to chat live with a Senior LinkAge Line® specialist.

Lake Shetek State Park to close during special youth hunt on November 18-19, 2017

During a special youth hunt to prevent overpopulation of deer and protect resources on November 18-19, Lake Shetek State Park will be closed to all visitors. 

Hunts also will take place at other Minnesota state parks and recreation areas this fall, and access to the parks will vary. Some will remain open to all visitors, some will have limited public access and some will be open only to hunters with special permits. The deadlines have passed for youth and adults to apply for the permits to participate in the hunts, which include regular firearms, muzzleloader and archery options.

“Too many of one animal or plant species in an area can start to throw off the balance of other species in that area,” explained Tavis Westbrook, Natural Resource Program coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division. “When there are too many deer in a park, they tend to feed too much on certain trees and native plant communities, so occasionally we allow deer hunts as a means of protecting natural resources.”

The DNR thanks visitors for their patience and understanding during the hunts.

 For a list of parks that are open, partially open or closed during the 2017 hunting season, visit or contact the DNR Information Center at or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday). Details on which areas of each park will be affected by the special deer hunts can also be found in the “Visitor Alert” boxes on the individual park Web pages at

Murray County Christmas Project

The Murray County Christmas Project is once again providing toys and gifts to children in Murray County.

Items needed are new toys, gifts, stocking caps and mittens.  Monetary donations will be used to buy these items.  All checks should be made payable to:  Murray County Christmas Project/SRDC.  Donations can be dropped at Slayton Shoe Repair, local banks in Murray County or sent to Murray County Christmas Project, Box 111, Slayton, MN  56172 by December 1st. 

All donations for the Murray County Christmas Project are greatly appreciated. 

Good Neighbor Christmas Tree

With the beautiful fall soon to be behind us and Christmas fast approaching, it is once again time to announce plans for the Annual Good Neighbor Christmas Tree sponsored by Minnwest Bank South.    People’s generous donations of toys, games, books and clothes have provided a happy Christmas to many children in past years.

There will be a Good Neighbor Christmas Tree set up in both Slayton and Lake Wilson’s bank lobbies.  Tags will decorate these trees, each tag is marked boy or girl and with a suggested age group.    Any new or unused gift will be appreciated by these children.   Purchased items should be brought to the banks unwrapped. 

Minnwest Bank South hopes that our communities will respond to the need of our area children and purchase an item for the Good Neighbor Tree.   Gifts should be returned to either Slayton or Lake Wilson offices by December 9, 2016.   All gifts will be anonymously distributed to the area’s needy children through the Murray County Christmas Project.  

Make it your goal this year to spread some holiday joy to area boys and girls.  Minnwest Bank South’s Good Neighbor Tree provides everyone with an opportunity to take part in the spirit of Christmas, GIVING.

4-H Scholarships Announces 

By Margie Anderson

SLAYTON, Minn.  11/5/2017 -  College scholarships were awarded at the annual Murray County 4-H Awards Celebration on November 5.  Receiving a 4-H scholarship were Mason Whitehead, Slayton Shooting Stars 4-H Club; Jarred Jans & Justin Dierks, Bondin Belfast 4-H Club; and Regan Davis, Lakers 4-H Club.   

“I Dare You” Leadership Awards went to Maggie Heezen, Cameron 4-H Club and Mckenna Samuelson, Slayton Shooting Stars 4-H Club.  

Club secretaries and historians recognized for their contribution and hard work were: Danielle Hoekman and Dalton DeYonge, Chandler Hilltoppers 4-H Club; Abby Hamman, Prairie Hustlers 4-H Club; Aamon Naig, Karlie Heezen & Makayla Rhodes, Cameron 4-H Club.

The 2016-17 Outstanding Ambassador Award was presented to Rachel Siedschlag, Prairie Hustlers 4-H Club.

Over 60 members were recognized for their outstanding project work, leadership and citizenship skills, and commitment to the 4-H program. 

Fifteen adult volunteers were honored for their commitment with a combined 125 years of leadership experience:  Brenda Wehking, Crystal Reith, Tim & Shannon Rhodes, Alissa Wendland, Darcie Heezen, Sara & Todd Davis, Cody Van Eck, Jean Larson, Brenda Bose, Teresa Hamman, Brenda Whitehead, Eunice Boerboom and Dennis Opdahl. 

Friend of 4-H Awards were presented to Tom Mesner and Margie Anderson.  Margie has served as Murray County 4-H Program Coordinator for over 30 years and is planning to retire next June. Dawn Mouw was honored with the 4-H Alumni Award.    

Special thanks to host clubs Badger Lake, Fenton Friends and Lakers 4-H Clubs for planning and hosting this year’s celebration.  Those attending the celebration also enjoyed pork chops-on-a-stick, corn dogs and delicious ice cream sundaes.  In addition, many went home with door prizes.

FSA Items of Interest

In October the FSA office was busy making payments as October is considered our payment month.  Murray County producers enrolled in the 2016 PLC program should have received payments on corn, wheat and oats.  Producers in the 2016 ARC County program received payments on small grain only.  There were no ARC County payments for 2016 on corn or soybeans for Murray County.  The CRP payments were also sent in October.  If you did not receive an expected CRP payment more than likely you have some uncompleted paperwork.    As always, if you changed bank accounts and did not inform our office your payment will not be going out until you update your information.  

CRP has been a very busy program this past year.  Due to an acreage cap on CRP acres, the program has been temporarily suspended until the actual acres in CRP can be accurately determined to see if any more contracts can be accepted.  However, enrollment will continue for the state-specific Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and CRP Grasslands Program. 

Murray County was declared contiguous to a disaster county due to hail, wind and tornadoes in June and July this past summer. Under this designation, producers with operations in any primary or contiguous county are eligible to apply for low interest emergency loans on physical losses only. Emergency loans help producers recover from physical losses due to natural disasters. 

Producers have until April 30, 2018 to apply for emergency loan assistance. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. Producers can borrow up to 100 percent of actual physical losses, to a maximum amount of $500,000. 

For more information about emergency loans, please contact your local FSA office or visit

Starting Nov. 1, 2017, farmers and ranchers with base acres in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) safety net program may enroll for the 2018 crop year. The enrollment period will end on Aug. 1, 2018. 

Southwest Regional Development Commission Partners With Region Five Development Commission to Explore Potential Demand of Residential Solar Financing

The Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) and Region Five Development Commission (R5DC), along with Rural MN Energy Board, are interested in knowing your thoughts about a residential solar financing model.

Over the past decade, alternative energy products and services including solar systems have seen a significant increase in interest and as a result, the Regional Development Commissions (RDCs) have received several inquiries for lending programs that bolster system deployment. With funding support of the McKnight Foundation, the two RDCs are partnering with utility providers, contractors and homeowners to fully understand the opportunities and barriers around a potential residential Solar Energy Lending Program.

A survey is designed for residents in the Rural MN Energy Board area (Counties of Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood,  Faribault, Freeborn, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Mower, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Sibley, Watonwan). All residents and homeowners are encouraged to fill out an online survey which will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The survey can be found at 

For more information about this project, contact Robin Weis, Economic Development Director at the SRDC Office at 507-836-1638 or   

Snow Blower Safety Tips: Keep Best Practices in Mind This Winter

Outdoor Power Equipment Institute encourages home and business owners to ready snow throwers now for wintry weather, review safe operating procedures

Winter is on its way – and clearing driveways, sidewalks and parking lots is no small job. It’s important to get ready before flurries and heavier snows arrive.  The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is offering tips for safe and correct use of snow throwers, often referred to as snow blowers.

“Weather today is more unpredictable than ever, and you need to have your snow thrower serviced and ready to power up,” says OPEI President and CEO Kris Kiser. “You want to have the right fuel on hand and review your owner’s manual now so you can use your equipment safely.”

Kiser says preparation is key and that home and business owners should consider the following tips:


Review your owner’s manual. Check your owner’s manual for safe handling procedures. If you lost your manual, you can look it up online (and store a copy on your computer so you have the manual available to reference in the future). Review how to operate the controls. You should be able to shut off your equipment quickly.

 Check your equipment. The snow thrower should be completely powered off when you are checking it over. If you forgot to drain the fuel last winter before storing your snow thrower, drain the gas tank now. Adjust any cables. Check the auger.

Put your equipment where you can get to it easily. Move your equipment to a convenient and accessible location, so you can get to it easily when you need it.

Purchase your fuel. Often gas stations are closed after a storm. Be sure to use the correct fuel, as recommended by your equipment’s manufacturer (for more information on fueling properly see Fill up the fuel tank outside before you start the engine and while the engine is cold. Never add fuel to a running or hot engine.

Store your fuel properly. Place fuel in a fuel container and label it with the date purchased and the ethanol content of the fuel. Fuel that is more than 30 days old can phase separate and cause operating problems. It’s important to use fresh fuel in your snow thrower. Make sure fuel is stored safely and out of the reach of children.

Tidy the area you intend to clear with your equipment. Snow can sometimes hide objects. Doormats, hoses, balls, toys, boards, wires, and other debris should be removed from the areas you intend to clear. When run over by a snow thrower, these objects may harm the machine or people.

Plan to dress for winter weather. Locate your safety gear now, and place it in an accessible closet or location in your home. Plan to wear safety glasses, gloves and footwear that can handle cold and slippery surfaces.



KEY SAFETY TIP: Never put your hands inside the auger or chute. Use a clean out tool (or stick) to unclog snow or debris from your snow thrower. Your hands should never go inside the auger or chute.

Turn OFF your snow thrower if you need to clear a clog. If you need to remove debris or unclog snow, always turn off your snow thrower. Wait for all moving parts to come to a complete stop before clearing any clogs or debris.

Only use your snow thrower in visible conditions. Never operate the snow thrower without good visibility or light.

Aim your snow thrower with care. Never throw snow toward people or cars. Do not allow anyone to stand in front of your snow thrower.  Keep children or pets away from your snow thrower when it is operating.

Use extreme caution on slopes and hills. Use caution when changing directions on slopes. Do not attempt to clear steep slopes.

Know where your cord is. If you have an electric powered snow thrower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times. Avoid tripping. Do not run over the power cord.

Keep pets and children inside. Kids and pets may love to play in the white stuff, but it’s best to keep them inside your home and under supervision while you are using your snow thrower to clear a path or drive. Do not allow them to play in the snow as it is tossed out of the snow thrower’s chute.

More safety tips and information are available at