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Showing posts from May 2012. Show all posts

Avoid Lyme disease this summer

Posted on May 30, 2012 at 4:46 PM
Categories: Health, Outdoors

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The unseasonably warm weather this year has been great for Minnesotans who like to spend their time outdoors. Unfortunately, it’s also been great for Minnesota’s tick population, and the risk of contracting tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease could be higher than ever. Last month was proclaimed Lyme Disease Awareness Month by Governor Dayton, but the Governor reminds Minnesotans to take precautions throughout the summer to avoid Lyme and other disease transmitted by ticks.

Minnesota is already a high-risk area for Lyme, a disease found primarily in northeastern and upper Midwestern states. A record-high 1,293 cases of Lyme were reported in 2010 and many experts predict we are on track to have more this year. Ticks can survive Minnesota’s harsh winters and become active when the temperature reaches 38 degrees, so while these parasites usually won’t be seen until March, they may have been active in January and February this year.

Lyme is carried by the Eastern blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick. They are smaller than the common American Dog tick – better known as the wood tick. In order to prevent picking up a tick and the Lyme bacteria they can carry, take precautions when outdoors this summer. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends you avoid walking in brush or tall grass if you are in wooded areas; keep your feet, ankles, and legs covered; and use an insect repellant containing DEET on uncovered skin (except the face).

If you find a tick, remove it by the head with a tweezers – pulling it off by the body can leave the head embedded in your skin, increasing the risk of Lyme transmission. If you are unable to do this, visit a doctor. Since early treatment is key to a quick recovery, you should also visit a doctor if you suspect you may have contracted Lyme. Symptoms include a red “bulls-eye”-type rash around the bite area, as well as joint pain, fatigue, and flu-like fever or chills.


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Honoring Memorial Day in Minnesota

Posted on May 25, 2012 at 2:00 PM
Categories: Military Servicemembers, Veterans

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On Memorial Day, we honor the men and women of our Armed Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the United States. These heroes include many Minnesotans, who have paid the supreme price to protect the freedom and liberty that we enjoy every day and which people around the world long for. We remember these men and women, who served with selflessness, distinction, and bravery in order to secure our democracy.
 
This is why Governor Dayton has proclaimed Monday, May 28, 2012 Memorial Day in Minnesota. Memorial Day gives us the opportunity to thank those who undertake the great responsibility of defending our freedom and democracy. It is a time to gratefully recognize and appreciate all that has been nobly given by those Americans and Minnesotans, as well as their families, who dedicated their lives to defending our country and its principles.


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A couple of important reminders for the weekend

Posted on May 25, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Public Safety

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As Memorial Day weekend approaches, the office of the Governor and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) urge you to drive safely and buckle up — extra Click It or Ticket seat belt patrols are on roads now.

In 2011, there were 365 (preliminary) traffic deaths in the state – far below the 568 deaths in Minnesota in 1990, but far higher than anyone wants. At this point in 2012, there have been 99- traffic deaths in the state.

The DPS, along with the Departments of Health and Transportation, the State Patrol , and other organizations, has started the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) initiative. More information on TZD can be found here: http://www.minnesotatzd.org/. More information on safe driving tips and statistics can be found at the DPS Office of Traffic Safety website.

As you travel this weekend and throughout the summer — the deadliest time on Minnesota roads — follow these four basic steps to help ensure safer roads:

Buckle up. More than half the motorists killed in crashes are not wearing a seat belt.


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A new era of accountability for Minnesota's schools

Posted on May 23, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Categories: Education, Reform

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This week, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released information about how schools across the state are doing. Unlike years past, this year, the ratings look a little different.

The ratings are based on a new accountability system – made possible with the approval of Minnesota’s No Child Left Behind (NLCB) waiver - that provides a better, fairer picture of how Minnesota schools are actually doing.

The new system is a vast improvement from the previous system, which measured schools solely based on a single high-stakes test to determine an Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) score.  That limited snapshot resulted in a system that unfairly mislabeled and over labeled schools as failing – even schools that were performing at high levels.

Now, with the new Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR) system, schools will be evaluated on a number of equally measured criteria. MDE will take into consideration:

  • Proficiency - How are students scoring on state tests?

  • Student growth - How are students making progress toward their goals?

  • Achievement gap reduction – How are schools doing to close the performance gaps among groups of students?

  • Graduation rate – How many students are graduating from high school each year?


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Fighting the Spread of Emerald Ash Borer Disease

Posted on May 21, 2012 at 3:09 PM
Categories: Agriculture, Outdoors, Environment

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Governor Dayton has proclaimed this week, May 20-26, to be Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week in Minnesota. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive species of insect that has killed millions of ash trees in North America. It is not native to the U.S., but was discovered in Michigan in 2002; in 2009, the first Minnesota case of EAB was found in Ramsey County. It has since been found in the counties of Houston, Hennepin, and Winona.

The biggest risk of spreading EAB comes from people moving firewood or other ash tree products with EAB or EAB larvae inside. In order to help prevent the spread of EAB throughout Minnesota and beyond, you should try to use only local firewood, and you should avoid transporting firewood if possible. In order to prevent the spread of this destructive species, the Department of Agriculture has prohibited the movement of ash trees, ash limbs and branches, ash logs or untreated ash lumber with bark attached, firewood from hardwood trees, and uncomposted wood chips and ash bark chips greater than one inch in two of three dimensions from the affected counties. More tips on preventing the spread of EAB can be found at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website.

You should also watch for signs that ash trees on your property are infested: heavy woodpecker activity, S-shaped tunnels under the bark, dead branches in the top canopy of the tree, and D-shaped exit holes approximately 1/8 inch in diameter are all signs of EAB presence in a tree. If you suspect a tree is infested, you can follow procedures for seeking treatment or removal of the tree from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website


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Minnesota GreenCorps is hiring!

Posted on May 18, 2012 at 9:51 AM

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Are you a recent college graduate with an interest in improving your community and state? Do you have a passion for the environment and sustainability? Do you want to gain valuable work experience and earn money to put toward your education? Minnesota GreenCorps wants you!

GreenCorps, an AmeriCorps program coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is accepting applications now through May 30 for an 11-month service period during 2012-2013. 

Up to 28 GreenCorps members will be stationed at sites across the state, where they will have the chance to work on cutting-edge projects dealing with energy conservation, waste prevention and recycling, living green (including local food and complete streets), and green infrastructure (including forestry and stormwater). Member responsibilities can include but are not limited to field work, data analysis, volunteer mobilization, and community engagement and outreach.


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2012 Governor's Fishing Opener

Posted on May 09, 2012 at 2:37 PM
Categories: Outdoors

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The Governor's Fishing Opener will be held this weekend, May 11 -12, on Lake Waconia, popular for fishing, sailing and other water recreation. The town of Waconia sits right along the southern shore of Lake Waconia, the second largest lake in the Twin Cities area. This is the first time Waconia, a community of about 10,000 residents along the western edge of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, will host this event.

A pair of accomplished anglers from Waconia will host Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon on Lake Waconia. Travis Frank will fish with Governor Dayton, and Matt Peters will fish with Lt. Governor Prettner Solon. Travis Frank is a professional angler, founder of Trophy Encounters Professional Guide Service, and a producer for Ron Schara Productions. Matt Peters grew up on Lake Waconia. Like Travis Frank, Peters has fished since he was old enough to hold a rod and reel, and he too started his first guide service at the age of 16.


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Minnesota: a great place to do business

Posted on May 08, 2012 at 1:55 PM
Categories: Commerce, Economy

In a recent Pioneer Press editorial, Commissioner of Revenue Myron Frans writes that "The primary concern for state policy makers and business leaders should be our state's overall business climate and economic prosperity.”

Minnesota ranks among the top places to do business in several studies, including:

  • The greater Minneapolis-St. Paul region is the 12th-best market in the U.S. for small business creation and growth, in a study by the Business Journal (2011).

  • Health care start-ups in Minnesota raised $88.3 million in investment during the first half of 2011 - more than any other state - according to a study by BioEnterprise.

  • Minnesota ranks 4th in the Midwest in venture capital funding for life-sciences start-ups, according a 2010 survey by BioEnterprise.

  • Minnesota ranks 5th in the The Beacon Hill Institute's most recent State Competitiveness Report (2010).

  • Minnesota places 7th in CNBC's annual ranking of the Top Places To Do Business.

In addition, Minnesota has been ranked among the top five states nationwide in the 2010 Camelot Index, according to the State Policy Reports, based on our economy, health, education, crime, society and government. Minnesota has a strong economic foundation, and a quality of life that makes it an attractive place to live and do business.


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