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Community Transit Will Add Routes In Two Communities

Marshall, MN - April 13, 2017- Community Transit of United Community Action Partnership is continuing its tradition of leading the charge toward continued improvement in rural public transit. On March 30, 2017, Community Transit was awarded $289, 200 to begin two pilot projects. One is a route between Fulda and Worthington. The other establishes regular route service in the city of Redwood Falls.

“We are honored that Community Transit of United Community Action Partnership was selected for expansion projects,” said Transportation Director Cathleen Amick.

“The first route will serve people of Murray County with rides between Fulda and Worthington . This project is designed to begin on July 1, 2017.”

The origin and destination for this route were chosen at the urging of Murray County transit advisory committee members because of the large numbers of people who need to get to Worthington for medical appointments. Once the route has started, Murray County residents will be able to schedule rides between Fulda and Worthington on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“The second pilot project is designated for a route in the City of Redwood Falls beginning January 1, 2018,” said Amick.

The possibility of regular route service to lighten the load on dial-a-ride service in Redwood Falls has been discussed for many years, but there has never been enough local match funding. This grant program offered the rare opportunity to get the project off the ground  without  any initial local investment.

MNDOT explained the rationale for this 100% State funded grant program in a memo to eligible transit providers. “This new special discretionary grant program is intended to stimulate transit service growth in Greater Minnesota by reducing the local match requirement, which is known to  be a barrier to adding new service quickly.”

During the pilot projects, Community Transit will be busy tracking the effectiveness of these new routes, and making sure they can be sustained at the end of the grant period.

“If they are successful, we hope to get additional financial support to continue these routes,” Amick said.

The Community Transit program started out with a few volunteers driving residents to local senior dining sites. In 1990 they began serving Jackson and Lyon counties as a public transit provider. They had one bus per county funded by M NDOT. That was the beginning. Community Transit is now an eight-county public transit service with a fleet of nearly 40 buses and 75 volunteer drivers.

These grants are a testament to the fact that even with all the enhancements that have been made, Community Transit will be in the business of improving transportation services for years to come.


Organic  Producers and Handlers May Apply for Certification Cost Share Reimbursements; Expanded Eligibility for Transition and State Certification Cost

Starting March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices to apply for federal reimbursement to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.

USDA reimburses organic producers up to 75 percent of the cost of organic certification, but only about half of the nation’s organic operations currently participate in the program. Starting March 20, USDA will provide a uniform, streamlined process for organic producers and handlers to apply for organic cost share assistance either by mail or in person.

USDA is making changes to increase participation in the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and at the same time provide more opportunities for organic producers to access other USDA programs, such as disaster protection and loans for farms, facilities and marketing. Producers can also access information on nonfederal agricultural resources, and get referrals to local experts, including organic agriculture, through USDA’s Bridges to Opportunity service at the local FSA office.

Historically, many state departments of agriculture have obtained grants to disburse reimbursements to those producers and handlers qualifying for cost share assistance. FSA will continue to partner with states to administer the programs. For states that want to continue to directly administer the programs, applications will be due Feb. 17, 2017.  

Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic or transitional certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/ arrangement requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage are all eligible for a cost share reimbursement from USDA.

Once certified, producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each year up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope—crops, livestock, wild crops and handling. This announcement also adds transitional certification and state organic program fees as additional scopes.

To learn more about organic certification cost share, please visit www.fsa.usda.gov/organic or contact a local FSA office by visiting http://offices.usda.gov.


Plant A Pizza Garden And More

by Colleen Gengler, Murray County Master Gardener

While you can’t actually plant a pizza, you can plant some of the pizza ingredients!  To prove it, kids are invited to join the pizza garden at the Slayton Community Garden site on Tuesday mornings this summer.  

Kids third through sixth grade are invited to learn about gardening and healthy eating. This year the first meeting will be after school on Tuesday, May 16, 3:30 p.m.  Pizza gardeners will get to plant early crops like lettuce, onions and radishes in our raised bed.  After that, the regular time will be Tuesday morning from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., beginning June 6.  Gardeners will plant tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and other plants and seeds including a few flowers. There will be an “end of the summer pizza party” using the produce. 

There is no cost to participate but registration is required by turning in the flyer distributed through local schools, calling University of Minnesota Extension-Murray County Office at 507-836-6927 , visit our website http://www3.extension.umn.edu/county/murray or stop at the Extension Office in the Courts Building. 

Participation is encouraged for the first session on May 16 but not required. If weather is questionable, we will try for another day that week.  Be sure to register by May 15.   Registration is limited.  The pizza garden is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Extension, Murray County 4-H, and Murray County Master Gardeners. 


End O Line Park Mourns The Loss Of Park Founder

The Murray County Board of Commissioners and staff at End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum in Currie are saddened to learn of the passing of founding director, Louise Gervais. 

Louise was the enthusiastic visionary who made the End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum what it is today.   She leaves a legacy that will be cherished for years into the future.

Glenn Kluis, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said in a statement, “Louise was widely admired throughout the region as a driving force committed to creating and improving the park.” 

End O Line Park and Museum started as a Currie Poco-o-Poco 4-H Community Pride Project in 1972 of which Louise was the adult leader.   Murray County took over the management of the park in 1975 and was assisted throughout the years by many in the Currie community who followed Louise’s “can do” attitude and made the park into one of the best-known tourist attractions in the region. 

Janet Timmerman, the current museum coordinator, stated, “Louise was a leader in the preservation of local history and was a strong advocate for telling the stories of those who came before us.   I am grateful to be able to build on the firm foundation she has set for us.”

People from all over the world have visited End O Line, and it has been featured in regional and national publications and other media.