Thursday, January 29, 2009

Governor Pawlenty - You are dead wrong and you should be ashamed of your budget ideas that will hammer our rural hospitals, schools, and towns

Source is Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities

I'm in the process of talking to area hospital CEO's, as well as area school superintendents and city mayors. I want to have an ongoing discussion with all those parties mentioned to find out what will happen with all the budget cuts that are coming down the line. Keep in mind, bad government brought us this mess! Government that only speaks for the rich and powerful has delivered us the worst U.S. economy since the Great Depression. We, the public, must hold our elected officials in St.Paul and Washington, D.C. accountable to avoid more bad policy to get shoved down our throats in small town America.

Check this out, the source is = Minnesota Business Taxes Climate isn't so terrible, in reality

Minnesota business taxes, climate: not so bad
By Matt Kane
Friday, Jan. 23, 2009

Gov. Tim Pawlenty in his 2009 State of the State address called for reduced corporate-income taxes as a way to help Minnesota recover from the national economic crisis. According to the governor, Minnesota's business taxes are out of line.

For the high tax claim, Pawlenty hangs his hat on a short Tax Foundation write-up that adds U.S. and corporate-income tax rates together and compares the rates to those of foreign nations. While this has set off alarm bells in the Pawlenty administration, it's not a very useful exercise because corporate income-tax rates are but a one part of the total picture for business taxes.

The range of taxes on business certainly includes the corporate income tax — for corporations, anyway — but also includes property taxes, sales taxes, individual income taxes for small businesses, license fees, workers-compensation taxes and unemployment insurance charges.

• State deemed competitive

Minnesota is competitive when it comes to business costs and taxes, says the website for Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development. As noted there, a 2004 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston ranked Minnesota 41st for taxes as a share of business profits.

And the private-sector consulting firm Anderson Economic Group (AEG), in its latest annual report, (PDF) identified Minnesota as the fourth lowest state for business tax burden using a broad range of business taxes measured against profits earned in the state. Clearly Minnesota's rank would change if other measures of taxes or business earnings were applied, but the AEG report demonstrates the difficulties with blanket statements about high business taxes in the state.

For businesses, of course, it's more than just taxes that shape the environment. Forbes Magazine recognizes as much in its annual ratings of the best states for business.

Of the 50 states, Minnesota ranks 11th. Not bad.

• Smart public investments

Over the years, Minnesota has been a great place to do business in part because of ample but smart public investments in quality education, transportation and other infrastructure, and quality of life concerns, such as health and the environment.

Corporate income taxes may be an issue — or maybe not, given a total accounting for all of the state's business taxes. Either way, corporate income tax cuts do not jump out as a key issue for the state to tackle in the midst of a sagging national economy and a massive budget deficit.

Matt Kane is a policy fellow for infrastructure and economic development with Growth & Justice, a think tank based in St. Paul.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Joint Hoffman Economic Development Authority and Commerce and Ag annual meeting held on Saturday night

Winter was kind enough to us in Hoffman on Saturday night to let this event go on as scheduled.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It was a good night to have great road-side assistance...Biggest lesson: Be prepared to get stranded, it could happen to you

This photo was taken right outside Rooney's Bar in Sedan at about 9:30pm on Thursday night, January 15. I was on my way back to Belgrade from my girlfriend's place in Glenwood, and about 5 miles east of Glenwood on Highway 55 my alternator literally froze up at about 8:05. (I later learned that the bearing busted loose inside the unit, and every mechanical piece inside it was smashed to bits!)

Since it is a reliable and solid Chevrolet, I was able to limp it two more miles so I could get into Sedan, versus being stranded on the open highway on a night when the air temp approached -30! (Windchill was quite a bit worse) Basically, I coasted as much as possible with the motor shut off, then I'd start it back up and speed up before shutting the engine off again. With a frozen alternator, the serpentine belt melted/snapped, thereby rendering the power steering pump and water pump useless as well. Fortunately, I did not overheat the engine/warp my heads/crack my block...and the Chevy lives to fight another day, after plucking down some $$ for a rebuilt alternator and new serpentine belt, and getting help from Chris Jensen's Auto Repair in Belgrade to throw it together.

Once I rolled into Sedan after the alternator was toast, I wheeled around to face Highway 55, for easy hook-up to a tow truck. After a few minutes on the phone with Allstate roadside service, my frozen-up self went into Rooney's Bar to thaw out and enjoy some great Harry's Pizza (Elrosa's finest! Yum gotta love that garlic chicken) while watching a C.S.I. episode on their TV. Pro Fast Towing/Auto of Glenwood was already out and about helping others who had car issues due to the cold snap, so they told me it could be up to 1 hour until they could get to Sedan. Thank goodness I was able to make it into town.

(No, I did not kiss my car in the sub-zero temp's, but man you've gotta love Chevy's that will not let you down when you need them the most)

So not only do I travel with heavy boots, blankets, food/water, and a shovel in my car, I've also got heavy-duty roadside service. All essential items for winter travel in Minnesota. (Especially if you have almost 243,000 miles on your car like I do!)

A few sights around Kensington on Saturday morning, January 17

Driving conditions in the Glenwood-Kensington-Hoffman area were simply horrible on Saturday morning as I made my way up to Hoffman. Between Glenwood and Farwell, I encountered whiteout conditions most of the way, as the wind whipped a light snowfall from last night across the prairie.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Joint HEDA and Commerce and Ag annual meeting on Saturday, January 17 - 5:00 free meal begins the evening

I'm terribly excited about this event. I hope the weather cooperates and allows for a large, enthusiastic crowd. Click on the left and the advertisement will load up with a larger version.

Friday, January 9, 2009

2009 Phone-a-Thon Saturday, January 17th for WCA Dollars for Scholars

On the morning of January 17, West Central Area High School seniors will be calling district residents to ask for pledges. Donations received that day will be awarded as scholarships to graduating WCA Seniors. Presentations are made during Awards Night in the spring.

Last year, over $12,000 was raised by the Phone-a-Thon in our school district! We hope to achieve this goal again in 2009. Your pledge can help us meet our goal. Please consider a tax deductible donations to Dollars For Scholars.

Thank you to the following establishments for supplying phones/facilities for the Phone-a-Thon: Eagle Bank in Wendell and Elbow Lake, Farmers State Bank in Hoffman, Bank of the West in Elbow Lake, and WCA Schools in Kensington, Barrett, and Elbow Lake.

If you are missed during the Phone-a-Thon, and would like to make a donation, please send your contribution to: Dollars For Scholars, 301 Co Rd 2, Barrett, MN 56311.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sights around the Hoffman area - Tuesday, January 6

Governor Pawlenty - How out of touch can you be?

I'm trying to mince my words here and not throw stones, but good grief... does that guy sound out of touch or what! Take a look at the following story, out of the West Central Tribune newspaper at how shockingly out of touch our governor is. Did he ever leave the Governor's mansion last year, other than going to campaign for John McCain? Rural school districts have been utilizing coops and other means of downsizing and sharing and cutting their budgets, dating back to the early 1980s. Even this son of a dairy farmer, who can sometimes be accused of living a sheltered life, knows that much. Governor Pawlenty, with all due respect, your lack of attention to what is going on in rural Minnesota is embarrassing.

Pawlenty wants sharing: Rural districts already one step ahead
By Carolyn Lange and Linda Vanderwerf, West Central Tribune
Published Thursday, January 08, 2009

WILLMAR — Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposal to cut education expenses by requiring school districts to “pool their purchasing power” to obtain goods and services through state-approved common vendors makes sense to area school superintendents.

After all, they’ve been doing it for years.

Out of necessity, area schools have cut costs by utilizing the Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative to purchase supplies, such as paper, and services such as accounting or payroll.

This year the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District began purchasing natural gas through the cooperative.

“We’re doing a lot of things already that Gov. Pawlenty is talking about,” said Paul Carlson, superintendent at New London-Spicer Schools.

Pawlenty’s proposal would not negate or replace the arrangements school districts already have with service cooperatives, said Alex Carey, Pawlenty’s press secretary for Greater Minnesota.

The existing cooperatives would serve as “eligible vendors” under Pawlenty’s plan, Carey said.

Pawlenty’s proposal may be more geared toward metro districts that haven’t traditionally used cooperative purchasing. “Not every school district starts at the same spot in terms of efficiencies,” Carlson said.

Most rural schools have also consolidated districts and greatly reduced administrators in the last decade to cut costs.

“We’re always looking at ways to save money and work together,” said Renville County West Superintendent Lance Bagstad. “In rural Minnesota, I feel school districts have become very creative.”

High school staff members from RCW have attended school safety training with staff from BOLD schools. RCW and MACCRAY cooperate on an alternative high school program.

“I think group purchasing has benefited our district,” Bagstad said.

Climbing out of statutory operating debt a few years ago made RCW conservative in its spending, Bagstad said.

“If it’s a want, it can probably wait; we spend money on needs,” he said. “We have a six million dollar budget, but we count pennies.”

The Willmar School District uses cooperative purchasing when it makes sense, but the larger district can sometimes get a better price on its own, said Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard.

“We save a ton of money” with cooperative purchasing for Willmar’s school meals program, he said.

Roger Reuckert, ACGC’s part-time superintendent, questions how much more can be cut without hurting student achievement.

If the legislators want to save schools money, Reuckert said they should consider ways to loosen up or remove unfunded mandates.

Districts that use the mandated Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, as well as the optional Northwest Education Assessments, may have to stop giving the optional test to save money, Reuckert said.

Carlson said the state could consider eliminating the mandated test, which costs millions to administer and does not provide valuable individual student achievement information like the Northwest Education Assessment.

“In times of economic crisis that we’re in right now, everyone needs to think about efficiencies,” Carlson said.

Kjergaard said Pawlenty’s proposal “makes it sound like school districts aren’t trying to get the best deal,” but that’s not the case.

“Most of us are really cheap,” he said. “We’re going to get the best deal we can get. … We’re Minnesota Cheap.”

Monday, January 5, 2009

FSA Program Signup Begins

The Grant County Farm Service Agency is now taking appointments for producers who wish to enroll in the 2009 Direct & Counter-cyclical Payment (DCP) Program. Advance payments are available in the amount of 22% with the balance issued in October.

Signup will be a bit more complex this year. All producers will be required to complete new forms: 1) CCC-926, Average Adjusted Gross Income and 2) CCC-902, Farm Operating plan. The completion of these forms can be time consuming and challenging. For this reason, FSA encourages producers to schedule an appointment before coming in. Producers without appointments will be waited on as time permits.

In addition, producers will need to provide leases/cash rent statements for crop year 2009 before DCP contracts can be approved.

FSA is still waiting for news on the new Average Crop Revenue (ACRE) program. Signup for this will be in spring. Informational meetings will be held once FSA writes the rules!

Monday night, January 5th...Hoffman City Council meeting at 7:00

And yes, this one will be fully covered and published in the January 8th issue of the Tribune.

The meeting will be held at the council meeting room at the Hoffman Community Center.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Shameful...this is simply shameful... Thank God the man is alright after his "encounter with Wal-Mart"

Blind man stranded by snow-blocked sidewalk near Willmar Wal-Mart
By Carolyn Lange, West Central Tribune
Published Saturday, January 03, 2009

WILLMAR — A snowdrift that blocked a sidewalk near Willmar’s Super Wal-Mart store left a blind man and his guide dog stranded on New Year’s Day.

According to Willmar police, the man’s service dog didn’t know how to guide the man over the snowdrift so that he could continue walking home. Because the path home was blocked, the dog apparently became disoriented and stopped.

The man called police at 5:11 p.m. Thursday and said he was stuck and needed help. Police gave the man and his dog a courtesy ride home.

The police then notified Wal-Mart and the city of Willmar about the snow-blocked sidewalk because it’s a violation of city ordinance to not keep public walkways clear. Property owners are responsible for removing snow from the sidewalks.

Willmar City Administrator Michael Schmit said the city sent Wal-Mart a letter Friday.

Cory Schorn, assistant manager at Wal-Mart, said store officials had not been aware the store was responsible for clearing the sidewalk, which is located along 19th Avenue, until receiving the call from police.

The sidewalk has now been cleared of snow, he said, and crews will be on hand to continue to keep snow removed from the sidewalk all winter.

Schorn said the man is a frequent shopper at Wal-Mart and said the store’s staff members regularly help him with his shopping errands at the store. He didn’t know that the man and his dog had been impeded by the snowdrift until notified by police.

This was the first complaint Wal-Mart had received about snow on the sidewalk, Schorn said.

Schmit said the city does not have “the time or resources to drive around looking for sidewalks to be shoveled” to make sure the city ordinance is followed. If a complaint is filed, however, then the city will take action, he said.

The city sends letters to offending property owners, who have 24 hours to clear the snow. If they don’t do it themselves, Schmit said the city will do it and then bill the property owners, which includes residential and commercial properties.

Editor's note: Too bad they can't just shut the whole Super-Wal-Mart monstrosity down for good.