Ballot Test

Students have chance to produce a TV ad

Minnesota teenagers, here’s your chance to go viral: Students in grades 9–12 are asked to produce a 30-second TV public-service announcement promoting the importance of buckling up or the dangers of distracted driving. The top teen will win $1,000 and their spot will air during the televised MTV Video Music Awards in 2013.
The Buckle Up and Pay Attention Teens! TV Commercial Challenge allows teens to choose their safety topic: seat belts or distracted driving. The contest is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety and AAA. The deadline for entries is Monday, April 15.
The contest’s finalists will be selected by DPS and AAA for a public online vote in May. AAA will award first-, second- and third-place winners with $1,000, $600 and $400, respectively.
“Traffic crashes are the leading killer of teens and this contest is one way to steer attention to common problems with teens behind the wheel,” said Gordy Pehrson, DPS teen driving coordinator. “When teens share their creations with peers, it enhances the value and importance of the message.”
Driver inexperience, risk-taking behavior, distractions, nighttime driving and seat belt non-use are the leading reasons for teen driving crashes and resulting deaths. In Minnesota during 2009–2011, 108 teen vehicle occupants (ages 13–19), were killed and only 35 (32 percent) were belted. Another 408 teens were seriously injured in crashes and only 226 (55 percent) were belted.
“Every year, new teen drivers take to the wheel, so it is critical we stay focused to educate them and keep them safe,” said Gail Weinholzer, director of Public Affairs, AAA Minnesota/Iowa. “This contest promotes teen enthusiasm and creativity to encourage safe driving behavior.”
2012 Contest Winner
The 2012 Buckle Up, Teens! contest winner was St. Michael’s Eli Guillou, who produced “Big Deal”— View contest-winning spots from previous years.
Parent Roles and Responsibilities to Develop Safer Teen Drivers
DPS urges parents to talk to their teens about the life-saving importance of seat belts, and the dangers and consequences of speeding, distracted driving and alcohol use.
Parents are encouraged to continue to provide supervised experience for their teen driver in a variety of conditions and road types and use a parent-teen driver contract to establish road rules, reinforce the laws and follow through with consequences. Find more teen driving resources for parents.
“Parent involvement is especially important during the first year of licensure, which is the most dangerous time for teen drivers,” Pehrson said.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic-safety-enforcement-and-education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for motorcycle safety programs and child seats for needy families.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.
Office of Traffic Safety Highlights
• The annual Toward Zero Deaths conference is in Bloomington, Oct. 22-24.
• 1,842 impaired drivers were arrested for DWI during a statewide campaign, Aug. 17–Sept. 3.
• 23,285 speeders were ticketed during a July statewide speed campaign.
• OTS issued the 2011 Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report, citing 368 traffic deaths for the year, the lowest since 1944 and a 44-percent reduction in deaths from a decade ago.
• More than 4,000 DWI offenders are using ignition interlock to benefit road safety and ensure legal, sober driving.
• Media are encouraged to download and broadcast or place OTS public-service announcements to advance road safety.
• Media are encouraged to localize traffic safety news by referencing county-specific crash facts.[...]   Read More -->

Nov. 30 St. Joseph blotter

If any readers have tips concerning crimes, they should call the St. Joseph Police Department at 363-8250 or Tri-County Crime Stoppers at 255-1301 or access its tip site at Crime Stoppers offers rewards up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for crimes. [...]   Read More -->

St. Cloud Area Fun Singers to perform

The St. Cloud Area Fun Singers will offer a delightful afternoon of holiday music and humorous anecdotes at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 in the Celebration Lutheran Church Gathering Place. Everyone is invited to attend and bring a friend. Refreshments will be served. The event is sponsored by the Sartell Senior Connection. Call 320-253-4036 for more information.[...]   Read More -->

Group sells ‘bricks,’ raises money for Uganda trip

Fifteen people, most of them members of Celebration Lutheran Church, have gone into a fundraising mode, hoping to raise enough for a two-week trip to Uganda to build a school.
Although the trip won’t take place until next August, time is of the essence as organizers have to raise funds in advance to ensure the trip can even happen.[...]   Read More -->

St. Joseph company is leader in ‘green’ building

About 20 men and women in the construction industry recently journeyed to St. Joseph to get a lesson in a growing area of environmentally friendly building practices.

Hosted by Borgert Products Inc. of St. Joseph, the two-day school offered an introduction to permeable-interlocking-concrete-pavement installation, a practice that helps reduce the amount of run-off in rivers, that can save money and provide a natural groundwater filter.
Susan Borgert, chief executive officer for Borgert, a concrete manufacturer, said the company started the “Borgert Technical School” a few years ago to certify contractors on the installation of concrete paving stones. They held their fourth class Nov. 12-13.
“We are the first company in the nation to have our own PICP class,” Borgert said. “We’ve had four classes so far. We are one of the original manufacturers of concrete paving stones in the U.S. and the first west of the Mississippi.”
Borgert offers permeable interlocking concrete pavements made from Bogert’s pavers. It’s a permeable surface and is considered a best-management practice for storm-water management. Because it is a flexible pavement system, Borgert said it has the ability to move but stays intact. It does not heave from freezing and thawing, she said.
Students in the class earlier this month watched as a fellow classmate dumped gallons of water on the interlocked pavers. It looked as if the water disappeared instantly as it seeped down through the pavers instead of standing on the ground in puddles.
Frank Gandora, one of the instructors for the class, explained the pavers require less maintenance and last longer than asphalt or concrete. He said in the long term it’s a more cost-effective option.
“It’s a 50-year design product,” Gandora said. “It’s three times as strong as concrete.”
Students in the class were using the pavers to create a parking-lot area for Borgert Products Inc. Because the business is creating a permeable surface that is not considered hard cover, Borgert said she plans to apply to the city for a reduction in their stormwater fee. Borgert has a satellite yard in Colorado. The business pays about $10,000 for the amount of hard cover it has on its property – a fee most municipalities charge businesses. Borgert said the company pays about $3,000 in storm-water fees to the City of St. Joseph.
Borgert explained the federal government regulates municipalities to take action in managing stormwater runoff. A lot of the infrastructure in larger metro areas can’t handle the amount of runoff because of all of the hard cover, like roadways and parking lots. The PICP will now be a part of Minnesota guidelines, something that took time to develop and for engineers to embrace.
“It’s a huge problem,” she said. “It (the traditional way) puts pollutants in our groundwater.”
While the PICP is an engineered system, it’s a practice that is starting to be incorporated more into building projects. George Strzala, president of Borgert, said the company is a leader in manufacturing this product that can be used for parking lots, roadways and driveways.
“It’s like a filter; it recharges the groundwater,” Strzala said. “You have to give Mother Nature something back. It’s gaining momentum.”
Borgert Products Inc. has used the paving system for businesses and schools throughout the state and beyond. Those who walk the campus of the College of St. Benedict can see some concrete pavers installed by Borgert. The pavers at CSB are different from the ones installed during the recent class.
“We have to start doing stuff like this,” Borgert said. “It’s the future. If we destroy our water sources, you can’t live without water.”
St. Joseph is regulated by a federal pollution permit. St. Joseph City Engineer Randy Sabart recently informed city council members the state is requiring a change in managing illicit discharges in the city’s storm sewer.  Sabart explained the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is looking for an ordinance that protects the storm sewer, not just the sanitary sewer. The council will consider a new ordinance Dec. 6.
“What we have in place today isn’t quite strong enough,” Sabart said. “The MPCA is requiring we strengthen that protection against pollution in the storm-sewer system.”
The revised ordinance will define what’s exempt and explain what is allowed to be discharged, Sabart told officials.[...]   Read More -->

Students gather to celebrate

The campus of the College of St. Benedict glowed with flickering lights Nov. 27 when students gathered outdoors to celebrate “Christmas at Saint Ben’s.”
Hundreds of students cheered as CSB President Mary Ann Baenninger plugged in the 20-foot-tall Christmas tree, covered with more than 3,000 white lights. Many of the students held small candles or torches to honor the CSB motto of “Sic Luciat Lux Vestra,” which is Latin for “So Let Your Light Shine.”[...]   Read More -->