Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 10/3/2014

Sunrise in Foxhome

Dear Friends,

Last Friday I attended the inauguration of the 11th Minnesota State University Moorhead President Dr. Anne Blackhurst. Earlier this week I traveled to Mahnomen to discuss a number of federal issues with the Wild Rice Electric Coop. I visited Fergus Falls where I met with Ottertail Power to assess the power industry, and attended an educational meeting on the new Dairy Margin Protection Program. On Tuesday, I advocated for the resolution of rail congestion issues and a restoration of safe and reliable rail service to the state. The week ended with visits to Bemidji, where I attended the Highway 2 West Manufacturers’ Association meeting and met with the President of Sanford Health Northern Minnesota. I also stopped in Bagley to tour the Sanford health clinic and TEAM Industries. Information regarding Economic Injury Disaster Loans and job-driven training programs in the District is also included in this newsletter.



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Minnesota State University Moorhead Inauguration

Anne Blackhurst (President, Minnesota State University Moorhead), Laura Urban (President, Alexandria Technical and Community College), Peggy Kennedy (President, Minnesota State Community & Technical College), Terry Janis (President, White Earth Tribal and Community College)

I attended the inauguration of Minnesota State University Moorhead President Dr. Anne Blackhurst, or “President Anne” as she likes to be called. The inauguration theme was “Leading for the Long Run,” inspired by President Anne’s interest in long distance running. Her inaugural address had anecdotes that tied marathon running to leading a university. As we exited Hanson Theatre, we were handed bells to ring to encourage President Anne along her way as MSUM President. Terry L. Janis, President of White Earth Tribal and Community College gave the keynote address. I met up with him at the reception along with many other leaders of the colleges within MnScu. 

Wild Rice Electric Cooperative

Steve Haaven (CEO), Directors Gary Bergan, Greg LaVoy, Diane Christianson, Mark Habedank (Secretary), Roger Winter, Larry Sollie (Treasurer), and Russ Okeson (Vice-Chair), Jeff Nornes (Chair)

This week I met with the Wild Rice Electric Cooperative Board of Directors at their offices in Mahnomen. We discussed a number of federal issues including FEMA disaster reimbursement rates, carbon sequestration, medical insurance and labor issues. 

Ottertail Power

Mark Helland (Vice President, Customer Service), Peter Wasberg (Director, HR and Safety), Brad Tollerson (VP Planning and Strategy), Loren Laugtug (Director, Congressional Affairs), Mark Bring (Director, Legislative Affairs)

Ottertail Power invited me to visit their offices in Fergus on Tuesday to meet with employees and discuss issues related to the power industry. 

Dairy Margin Protection Program

While in Fergus I stopped by the meeting held for dairy farmers to learn more about new dairy risk management tools. Reforming dairy programs was a top farm bill priority for me and I’m pleased that USDA has moved ahead with their implementation. I was able to speak to the group about the Farm Bill’s Margin Protection Program, the new, voluntary dairy safety net that aims to address volatility in the dairy marketplace by addressing the difference between milk and feed prices. FSA has launched a new web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage that best meets their needs. The University of Minnesota Extension Service and USDA Farm Service Agency will continue to hold educational meetings throughout the state. 

Highway 2 West Manufacturers’ Association

On Thursday I spoke to a group of manufacturers at the Highway 2 West Manufacturers’ Association meeting in Bemidji about the importance of manufacturing and its contribution to the economy. The Highway 2 West Manufacturers’ Association brings together businesses on a quarterly basis to learn from each other and promote business success in Northwestern Minnesota. Dave Hengel, the President of Greater Bemidji Corporation, spoke to the group about the Minnesota Innovation Institute. The Institute was created as a result of area manufacturers’ concerns over the growing skills gap and labor shortages. They have developed two programs: a 160 hour computer numeric controlled (CNC) machining program and a three tier Mechatronics career pathway program. Mechatronics is a new three tiered program in the multidisciplinary fields of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering.

Sanford Health

Bemidji Hospital Campus

Dan Olson (President, Sanford Health)

On Thursday morning I met with Dan Olson, President of Sanford Health Northern Minnesota at the Bemidji hospital campus. Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota includes hospitals in Bemidji and Bagley and eight clinics with locations in Bagley, Baudette, Bemidji, Blackduck, Cass Lake, Clearbrook, Kelliher and Walker. These clinics are supported by more than 1,500 employees, 123 physicians and advanced practice providers and 143 acute care beds. We discussed Sanford's expansions in Northern Minnesota and their investments for the future, including the purchase of their own helicopter. Sanford Health also recently opened a brand new Critical Access Hospital in Thief River Falls.

Sanford Health Clinic

Kirby Johnson (Administrator)

From Bemidji, I headed to Bagley to visit with Kirby Johnson, the Administrator of the new Sanford Health Clinic and toured the clinic’s operations. The Greater Bemidji Corporation and TEAM Industries in Bagley partnered with Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota to construct this new state of the art facility for the community. 

TEAM Industries

Tom Hjort (Operations Manager), Micah Ricke (Director of Product Development), Carri Pickett (Human Resource Manager)

On Thursday afternoon I toured the TEAM Industries manufacturing plant in Bagley. TEAM Industries is a market leader in drive train technology.  It designs and manufactures systems that take power and puts it to work quietly and efficiently. They have six locations throughout Minnesota and North Carolina. The Bagley plant is the site of TEAM Industries' corporate headquarters and serves as the product engineering center for the corporation. This operation is the birthplace of many of TEAM's proprietary products.  The Bagley operation opened in 1991 and currently has 110,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 278 employees.

Rail Congestion and Safety

I submitted a statement to a Minnesota Senate and House joint meeting Tuesday calling for all sides to come together to resolve rail congestion and service issues and restore safe, reliable rail service. The meeting was held to examine rail congestion and safety in the state. Three of Minnesota’s four Class I railroads cross the 7th District and local communities and businesses depend on this resource to transport freight.

Northern Long-Eared Bat

Northern Long Eared Bat Range

This week I signed onto a bipartisan letter that urges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find solutions that will help preserve the Northern Long-Eared bat population without taking drastic actions that could harm the forestry industry. I will continue to fight to keep our forestry industry strong, while making sure that Minnesotans can continue to use the forest for other productive and recreational uses without unnecessary red tape from Washington. Newsstand

AgriTalk Radio

I appeared as a guest on Monday’s AgriTalk radio program to discuss implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill. Last week, Secretary Vilsack was in Minnesota to announce the first step of ARC/PLC sign up and dairy program educational meetings are underway across the country. I also discussed my concerns about the negative impact proposed EPA regulations could have on agriculture.

USDA Census of Agriculture

Conducted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the 2012 Census of Agriculture collected more than 6 million data items from farms and ranches to develop Ag Census Web Maps. These maps detail data on crops and plants, farm ownership, livestock and animals, farm operators, and agriculture sales, loans, and government payments. This type of information helps researchers, policymakers, agribusinesses, and farmers better visualize and analyze factors that affect agriculture across the country.

Job-Driven Training Programs

More than $17 million in grants have been allocated to support job-driven training programs at 14 community colleges in Minnesota. Provided through the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) initiative, these funds will help colleges in the Seventh develop new curricula, hire and train instructors, and purchase new equipment. Job-driven training programs help area businesses employ local, highly-skilled employees.  

Minneapolis VA Healthcare System

I joined the rest of the Minnesota Congressional Delegation in requesting a meeting with Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to discuss recent reports of falsified records at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. These allegations, currently under investigation by the VA Inspector General’s office, also include possible scheduling data manipulation. Any falsifications must be corrected for the well-being of our veterans.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans

Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans are now available in 49 counties to small businesses and organizations impacted by flooding. Eligible counties, including several from the Seventh, have been declared natural disaster areas, allowing for the use of emergency loans in the recovery efforts of farmers and ranchers. Applicants may apply online, by email, or call the SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800-659-2955).

County Courthouse Tour

Stevens County Courthouse 1922/Present

First built in 1872, the Stevens County courthouse in Morris stood as a two-story wood building with offices on the first floor and the courtroom on the second. In early 1883, the state legislature authorized Stevens County to build a new courthouse, and convert the original into a farmhouse. The county bought a 300-square-foot parcel of park land from the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railroad Company for $25 to begin construction. The cream-colored brick courthouse served the county until 1957, when it was demolished and replaced with the current Corporate International Style structure, common in architectural design following World War II.

This Week in American History

Charles M. Schulz/Charlie Brown and Snoopy (1950)

The Peanuts comic strip, written and illustrated by Saint Paul native Charles Schulz, began national syndication in seven newspapers on October 2nd, 1950. The strip is widely considered the most popular and influential in the history of comics, and with 17,897 published strips, is also arguably the longest story ever told by one human being. At its peak, Peanuts was published weekly in more than 2,600 newspapers with a readership of nearly 355 million in 75 countries and 21 languages. Featuring a nervous and unconfident titular character, Charlie Brown, and his dog Snoopy, Peanuts continues to serve as the standard for four-panel gag strips in the United States.

Visitors from the 7th

Faye and Dave Aker (East Grand Forks)

Faith Ammermann (CLARA CITY)
2014 Congressional Art Competition