Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 1/29/2016

Washington, DC

Dear Friends,

With Congressional votes cancelled for the week due to winter storm Jonas, I took the opportunity to meet with business and community leaders throughout the District. I visited with health leaders in Fergus Falls on Monday to discuss the completion of Lake Region Healthcare's new clinic and Cancer Care Center. I also visited with educators from northwest Minnesota to offer my perspective on school safety and child nutrition. Lastly, I joined the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company in celebrating the farmer-owned ethanol cooperative’s 20th year of successful production.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Fergus Falls Leaders Meeting

Amy Baldwin (Executive Director, Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Commission) and Hal Leland (Mayor, Fergus Falls)

I met with a group of community leaders from Fergus Falls this week to learn about the variety of city efforts and projects underway in the area. In particular, Fergus Falls was recently awarded a $500,000 Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCMR) grant to purchase property along the river for redevelopment. I look forward to working closely with the group as these projects progress. 

Lake Region Healthcare

Bill Adams (Healthcare consultant) and Larry Schultz (CEO, Lake Region Healthcare)

On Monday, I had the opportunity to tour Lake Region Healthcare's new clinic in Fergus Falls as well as the adjacent Cancer Care Center. Both state-of-the-art facilities have technology and amenities designed to improve patient care and communication, including the new and expanded Same-Day Surgery Center. During the tour we also discussed efforts to secure fair reimbursement rates for medium-sized rural hospitals.

Northwest Area Educators

Dr. Jim Hess (Superintendent, Bemidji Public Schools)

I joined school superintendents, board members, service cooperative executives and other northern Minnesota educational leaders in Bemidji on Wednesday to provide a legislative update and answer questions on issues including school nutrition and school safety. Implementing new school lunch requirements has proven costly to some schools in the 7th and I am supportive of efforts that will provide schools more time and flexibility to make changes.

Chippewa Valley Agrafuels Cooperative

David Thompson (Chairman, Chippewa Valley Board)

On Thursday, I attended the annual meeting of Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) in Benson. This summer will mark the 20th year of operation for the farmer-owned ethanol cooperative. During this time annual production has increased from 15 million gallons to nearly 50 million and membership now includes more than 650 shareholders. In addition to issues of international trade and domestic regulations, CVEC’s member shareholders are concerned about attempts to undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard. I talked about my efforts to educate and communicate with those who don’t understand ethanol in order to protect the jobs this industry creates in the 7th District and across America.

Paul Bunyan Communications

Leon Kremeier (Area Manager, Ottertail Power Company), David Hengel (Executive Director, Greater Bemidji Corporation), Gary Johnson (Chief Executive Officer, Paul Bunyan Communications), and Dr. Jim Hess (Superintendent, Bemidji School District)

On Wednesday, I met with representatives of Paul Bunyan Communications and the Greater Bemidji Corporation to learn about Bemidji’s GigaZone and economic development efforts. Paul Bunyan Communications has developed one of the largest Gigabit networks in the United States, capable of download and upload broadband speeds of up to 1 Gbps. at affordable rates. They are leading the way in helping to bring broadband to rural areas, which I have long supported.

“Ag Bag” Recycling Program

On Wednesday, my staff aide Tom Meium attended a meeting in Hutchinson to discuss the rapidly growing demand for recycling of agricultural plastics. Currently, used “ag plastics” such as silage bags and bale wrap are often disposed of by being burned or buried, neither of which are sustainable disposal methods. McLeod County has launched an “Ag Bag” recycling program to help clean and bale old farm plastics for re-use and keep them out of local landfills. The program has drawn participation from farm plastic suppliers as far away as North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Air Line Pilots Association

Elizabeth Baker (Director, Government Affairs) and First Officer Chris Logan (Government Affairs Committee, Delta Master Executive Council)

Pilot volunteers from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) visited my Washington office this week to discuss FAA reauthorization and outline the organization’s legislative priorities in the coming year. ALPA has long been an advocate for flight safety, and I will work to ensure that aviation remains a safe and accessible service in the 7th District.

Marshall Town Hall

On Thursday, my staff assistant Meg Louwagie attended the Marshall town hall meeting with local legislators Senator Gary Dahms and Representative Chris Swedzinski. More than 55 people were in attendance to discuss a range of issues of importance to the community, including taxes on business and non-homestead properties, school bonding referendums, the statewide education levy, the MERIT center, and the new buffer law.


Wetland Mitigation Banking Program

This week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the establishment of the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NCRS) Wetland Mitigation Banking Program. Made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, this service will help states, local governments, and other qualified partners restore, create, and enhance wetland ecosystems. Expanded conservation options also help farmers and ranchers maintain eligibility for other USDA programs.

Discovering the 7th

Willmar’s Schwanke Car, Tractor, and Truck Museum is a collection of more than 400 vehicles dating as far back as 1910. Though nearly 100 automobiles are on display, including a St. Cloud-made Minikin, tractors are the focal point of the museum. The collection also features a variety of antique gas engines, pumps, and signs.

This Week in American History

Private Henke (HUTCHINSON), Belfast 1942

The first Americans deployed to the European theater of World War II arrived in Belfast, Ireland on January 26, 1942. Private First Class Milburn Henke, of Hutchinson, is recognized as the first soldier officially ashore. News quickly spread that the first American combatant had a German surname, much to the amusement of the European soldiers (particularly the British). Henke’s unit, the 34th Infantry Division, was the longest-serving in the European theater, with combat missions throughout Tunisia and Italy.

Tian Tian the Panda
National Zoo