Area briefs for the week of March 10

Dakota Gardeners plant sale is May 20
Dakota Gardeners will hold their perennial plant sale 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Community of Christ Church, 5990 134th St. Court, Apple Valley.

Perennials are divided and donated by club members. A selection of annuals and vegetables also are included. Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions.

Religion and faith in Dakota County
Series is presented in partnership with the St. Paul Interfaith Network
People can explore religion and faith through a series of free events at Dakota County Library during the 23rd season of Minnesota Mosaic.

Participants can gain a new understanding of the similarities and unique qualities of American Indian spirituality, Islam and Buddhism by discussing history, rituals, holy writings and holidays with guest panelists.

Four programs are slated from March 9-30. The series is presented in partnership with the St. Paul Interfaith Network. The moderator for the series is Joan Haan, professional coach, SPIN team member, and a lead facilitator for the Minnesota Council of Churches Respectful Conversations Project.

American Indian Spirituality — Explore the history of American Indians and their diverse faiths and the effect of current events on their cultures and ways of life. Learn from speakers Jim Bear Jacobs, member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation and pastor at Church of all Nations in Columbia Heights, and Janice Bad Moccasin, assistant to the tribal administration for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Pleasant Hill Library, Thursday, March 9, 6-8 p.m.

Beliefs of Islam — Examine basic tenets of Islam with local practitioners and discuss Islamophobia, the role of women in Islamic culture, interpretations of the Qur’an and Sharia law, and differing views of Shia and Sunni Muslims. Join speakers Samir Saikali, acting Imam at Al-Salam Mosque in Maplewood; Rashed Ferdous, vice president and certified speaker of the Islamic Resource Group; and Joyce Slaughter, who converted to Islam in 2006 and is currently working on her master’s degree in theology at St. Catherine University. Wescott Library, Thursday, March 16, 6-8 p.m.

The Path of Buddhism ­— Learn basic tenets of Buddhism from local Buddhist teachers. Examine the Noble Eightfold Path, the famous text of the Heart Sutra, and the Dharma. Discuss how the study and practice of meditation has affected the panelists personally and in their interactions with the world. Join speakers Edwin Kelley, who currently serves on the Board of Directors of Tergar International and as a senior instructor for the Tergar Meditation Community; Myo-O Marilyn Habermas-Scher, ordained in the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition and currently working as an interfaith chaplain at the University of Minnesota Medical Center; and Flying Fish Barbara Murphy, youth practice leader at Clouds in Water Zen Center. Flying Fish also sits on the Spiritual Advisory Board at Allina Health System. Wentworth Library, Thursday, March 23, 6-8 p.m.

Interfaith Dialogue — Learn to sensitively interact with people of other faiths living in our communities. Gain knowledge of other traditions to understand difficult events in our modern world. Join our series panelists in discussing basic questions about how to live together peacefully and equitably in our diverse society. Burnhaven Library, Thursday, March 30, 6-8 p.m.

For more information, visit www.dakotacounty.us/library or call 651-450-2900.

Pillow and blanket drive
Council 9096 of the Knights of Columbus is sponsoring a Bed Pillows and Blankets Drive for Bridging on March 18 and 19 at Risen Savior Catholic Church, 1501 E. County Road 42, Burnsville.

Each year Bridging serves more than 13,000 individuals (4,000 households) in the Twin Cities. Through the reuse of donated items, Bridging aims to improve lives by providing quality household items to those transitioning out of homelessness and poverty.

Bridging needs all sizes of new and gently used bed pillows and blankets free of rips, dirt, stains, animal hair, and odors.

Those who have items to contribute can drop them off at the church between 3 and 5 p.m. Saturday, March 18.

Volunteer time to support a Lakeville caregiver
A spouse in the Lakeville area caring for her husband would like a male volunteer to spend time with her husband for visits and walks. Spouse prefers three to four hours during the mid-morning once a week or every other week.

If interested or for more information on how you can help, contact Barb Tiggemann at 651-455-1560 or [email protected].

Flint Hills names Contractor of the Year
The Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery has awarded Pioneer Power with its Contractor of the Year honor. The Woodbury-based mechanical contractor provides pipefitting and other services at Pine Bend, and was selected based on its strong safety record, innovative practices, and attention to customer focus.

“Safety is one of the words we live by at Pine Bend, so selecting a contractor that makes safety its top priority was a natural choice. We are very happy to call Pioneer Power a long-time partner,” said Geoff Glasrud, vice president and manufacturing manager at Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery.

The Pine Bend-Pioneer Power relationship dates back to the 1960s, and Pioneer Power has been a core contractor at the Pine Bend refinery since 1999. In 2016, Pioneer Power worked nearly 328,000 man-hours in maintenance and other large projects at Pine Bend.

KCs host chili bingo event
The Farmington Knights of Columbus will host their third annual Chili Bingo and Cook-Off Contest 5:30-9 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at the Church of St. Michael, 22120 Denmark Ave., Farmington.

There is no charge to enter the cook-off. Chili must be entered between 3:30-4:30 p.m. to compete for cash prizes of $50 for first place, $25 for second, and $10 for third place. Judging begins at 4:30 p.m. with winners to be announced at the start of bingo.

A homemade chili dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. The menu also includes chips, crackers, cheese, dessert bars and all the fixings to top off a bowl of chili. Cost is $8 per person with a $25 family maximum. Popcorn, soft serve ice cream, beer, wine and pop will also be available for a nominal charge.

Bingo will begin at 6:30 p.m. Players will be competing for turkeys and meat boxes. The final game of the evening will be a cash prize cover-all.

Proceeds from the event will go toward local charitable efforts.

Farmington Library events
The Farmington Library, 508 Third St., will offer the following programs. Call 651-438-0250 or visit www.dakotacounty.us/library for more information.

Microsoft PowerPoint, 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, March 14. Create a basic slide show using Microsoft PowerPoint. Learn how to add text, graphics and simple animation. Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of Microsoft Word or equivalent. Registration required.

Open Knitting, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 15. Join other knitters in a casual focus group. Learn new stitches, get help with unfinished projects, or just enjoy new friends while knitting. Other crafters welcome.

Storytime for Babies, 10:30-11:15 a.m. Thursday, March 16. Stories, songs, bounces and playtime for children newborn to 24 months and their caregivers. Ages: 0-2.

Interviewing Skills, 3-5 p.m. Thursday, March 16. Learn how to be more confident, along with strategies to make you stand out from the crowd. Topics covered include types of interviews, common interview questions and major blunders to avoid. Taught by Dakota County WorkForce Center staff. Registration required.

Storytime for 2s-6s, 10:30-11 a.m. Friday, March 17. Read, play, sing, talk and write together with stories and activities to develop early literacy skills for toddlers and preschoolers. Siblings welcome. Ages: 2-6.

Friday Fun for Teens, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, March 17. Drop in for a variety of fun activities after a long week of school. Ages: 10-16.

Metro Republican Women meet March 11
Metropolitan Council member Wendy Wulff and Dakota County Commissioner Mary Liz Holberg will speak to the March 11 breakfast meeting of Metro Republican Women on the challenges and opportunities of applying Republican principals to their respective organizations.

Wulff was appointed to the Met Council by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2009 and reappointed by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2011 and 2015. She served on the Lakeville City Council from 2003 to 2009 after seven years on the Lakeville Planning Commission. She is vice chair of the Met Council’s Environment Committee and a member of the Community Development Committee.

Holberg began serving on the Dakota County Board in 2015. She has formal committee responsibilities with Transit Improvement, the Communications Center, Community Development Agency, Regional Railroad Authority and she represents the board on various committees such as the I-35W Solutions Alliance, Metro Alliance for Healthy Families, Metropolitan Emergency Service and Vermillion River Watershed.             Previously, she served 16 years as Lakeville’s state representative, three years on the Lakeville City Council and seven years on its Planning Commission.

“It is valuable to hear from these Republican women serving Dakota County and the Metropolitan Council, two very powerful organizations for our members,” said MRW President Margaret Flower. She noted Congressman Jason Lewis is the scheduled speaker for April and Twila Brase of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom will present in May.

The event will be held at Mendakota Country Club, 2075 Mendakota Drive in Mendota Heights, with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m., a buffet breakfast at 8:45 and the program at 9. The cost is $18 for members, $20 for nonmembers and $10 for students. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are encouraged.

Those interested may go to metrogopwomen.org to pay online or to make a reservation and pay at the door.

Combating heroin in Lakeville
A community forum moderated by former Lakeville Police Chief Tom Vonhoff is scheduled to discuss combating heroin and opioid abuse and will be held March 13 from 6:45-8:30 p.m. at Lakeville City Hall, 20195 Holyoke Avenue.

The event will include information from an addiction specialist, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, a Lakeville police officer and a recovering heroin addict.

Resources for prevention and treatment will be available in the City Hall lobby prior to the event start, from 6-6:45 p.m.

Statistics show more than 70 percent of heroin users start out by using prescription pain medications.  Opioid and heroin use has become an epidemic in America.  In the U.S., with only 5 percent of the world’s population, we consume 80 percent of the world’s opioid painkillers.

More than 325 people died in Minnesota in 2015 as a result of heroin and opiate pain relievers, 23 of them from Dakota County, and the numbers continue to rise.  The fastest growing group of heroin users is young, middle class men and women from the suburbs.

The event will be recorded and broadcast live. It is sponsored by the Lakeville Rotary in partnership with Lakeville Police, Lakeville Area Public Schools and Dakota County Attorney’s Office.

Job Transitions Group meets March 14
Catherine Byers Breet opens the floor to attendees’ job search questions at the March 14 meeting of the Easter Job Transitions Group. The group meets at 7:30 a.m. at Easter Lutheran Church – By The Lake, 4545 Pilot Knob Road, Eagan. Call 651-452-3680 for information.

KCs host omelet breakfast
The Knights of Columbus omelet breakfast is slated 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, March 19, at All Saints Church – Murphy Hall, 19795 Holyoke Ave., Lakeville.

The menu includes build your own omelet breakfast with hash browns, pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee.

Cost is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children 11 and older, $5 for children 10 and under.

Lakeville building report for February
The city of Lakeville issued building permits with a total valuation of $32,798,368 through February 2017. This compares to a total valuation of $16,092,804 for building permits issued through February 2016.

Lakeville issued commercial and industrial permits with a total valuation of $1,016,500 through February 2017 compared to a total valuation of $1,706,000 during the same period in 2016. The city also issued a building permit in February for the new Christian Heritage Academy School adjacent to Crossroads Church that was valued at $3 million.

Lakeville issued permits for 61 single-family homes through February 2017 with a total valuation of $18,503,000. This compares to 34 single-family home permits through February 2016 with a total valuation of $10,493,000. The city also issued permits for three townhome units through February 2017 with a total valuation of $768,000. This compares to seven townhome permits issued through February 2016 with a total valuation of $1,709,000.

Through February, Lakeville has issued the highest number of residential permits in the metro area, according to the Builders Association of the Twin Cities.

Lakeville Area Garden Club
The Lakeville Area Garden Club will host its March meeting 7 p.m. Monday, March 13, at the Main Street Manor, 8725 209th St., downtown Lakeville. Speaker Marty Bergland will present “Cooking with Herbs.” All are welcome.

Lakeville Parks and Recreation programs
Lakeville Parks and Recreation will offer the following activities. Register at https://webtrac.lakevillemn.gov, in person at 20195 Holyoke Ave., or call 952-985-4600.

The summer 2017 Parks and Recreation and Arts Center brochure is available now online. Online registration begins March 9. All Lakeville residents will receive a brochure in their mailbox soon.

Nickelodeon Universe, Mall of America, Bloomington: Purchase all-day discount wristbands for $26 at the Lakeville Parks and Recreation office in City Hall, 20195 Holyoke Ave., or call 952-984-4600. Pick up tickets at City Hall.

Learn to Skate Program, indoor skating lessons for ages 3 to adult, Ames Arena, 19900 Ipava Ave. One-hour lessons are held on Tuesday evenings, March 14-May 9 (skip March 28) and on Saturday mornings, March 11-May 6 (skip March 25). Several skating levels and times are offered. Cost: $89 per session and $125/P.A.L.S. level. Registration begins on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Music Together, free spring demonstration class, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 14; 9:30 a.m. Friday, March 17; 4 p.m. Sunday, March 19; 10:30 a.m. Monday, March 20; Steve Michaud Park Community Building, 17100 Ipava Ave. For parents or caregivers who are seriously considering registering but would like to try a class with their child or children first. Registration is required. Families will only be allowed to try one demo class.

Easter Egg Scramble and Breakfast, ages 2-10 with an adult, 9-9:45 a.m. or 10-10:45 a.m. Saturday, April 1, Heritage Center, 20110 Holyoke Ave. Scrambled eggs, pastries, juice, coffee and chocolate milk will be served. Includes Easter activities and an egg-stra special egg hunt throughout downtown Lakeville businesses. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Preregistration is required, registration deadline is Tuesday, March 28. Cost: $8.

Silly Slimes, ages 3.5-6, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 29, Ritter Farm Park, 19300 Ritter Trail. Experiment with gooey, silly and slimy mixtures. Dress to get messy. Cost: $20.

Science Explorers: Great Reactions, ages 5-10, 12:30-2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, Ritter Farm Park, 19300 Ritter Trail. Experiment with mixtures that are sloppy, foamy and slimy while investigating the difference between chemical and physical reactions. Dress to get messy. Cost: $20.

Lakeville Bootcamp, 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Heritage Center, 20110 Holyoke Ave. The workouts are adaptable to all fitness levels, and performed in a supportive and encouraging environment. Body-weight movement, dumbbells, resistance bands, kettlebells, and more. Never the same workout twice. Builds strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility. Cost: $8, single session walk-in. The first class is free.

Country Heat Live, 6-7 p.m. Tuesdays, Lakeville South, 21135 Jacquard Ave; Fridays, Lakeville North, 19600 Ipava Ave. Classes begin March 17 (skip March 28 and 31). Low-impact, high-energy dance class set to country hits. First class is free. Call 952-985-4600 or instructor Amanda Ewers, 515-460-5850, for more information.

Parent training on mental health and nutrition
NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) will present a free parent training class called Mental Health and Nutrition 7-8 p.m. Monday, April 10, at Mary Mother of the Church, 3333 Cliff Road E., Burnsville.

The class is taught by Lisa Diers, director of nutrition and yoga services at The Emily Program, and is designed to help others better understand the role of nutrition in recovery from eating disorders and other mental illnesses.

All parents and caregivers are invited to attend this event. Parent Nights are funded in part by the Dakota County Integrated Children’s Mental Health and Family Service Collaborative. To register or get information, contact NAMI at 651-645-2948 or see “classes” at namihelps.org.

One Book, One Lakeville selection is “The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father”
For the ninth consecutive year, Lakeville’s community reading program, One Book, One Lakeville, is encouraging residents to read and join in events and discussions about this year’s featured book, “The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father” by Kao Kalia Yang.

“The Song Poet” is a love story – of a daughter for her father, a father for his children, and a people for their land, their traditions, and all that they have lost.

Following her award-winning book “The Latehomecomer,” Yang retells the life of her father, a Hmong refugee in Minnesota, driven from the mountains of Laos by America’s Secret War. Bee Yang lost his father as a young boy and keenly felt his orphanhood. He would wander from one neighbor to the next, collecting the things they said to each other, whispering the words to himself at night until, one day, a song was born.

Bee sang the life of his people through the war-torn jungle and a Thai refugee camp. But the songs fall away in the cold, bitter world of a Minneapolis housing project and on a factory floor until, with the death of his mother, the songs leave him for good. But before they do, Bee has polished a life of poverty for his children, burnishing their grim reality so that they might shine.

Kao Kalia Yang, born in Thailand’s Ban Vinai Refugee Camp, is a member of the Hmong ethnic minority. She is a graduate of Carleton College and earned master’s degree in fine arts at Columbia University.

She is the co-founder of Words Wanted, an agency dedicated to helping immigrants with writing, translating and business services. Currently a Benedict Distinguished Visiting Faculty member at Carleton College, she lives in Minneapolis with her family.

She will speak at the One Book main event 7 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at the Lakeville Area Arts Center. Also appearing will be the Iny Asian Dance Theater. To participate, order free tickets on the Lakeville Area Arts Center website.

In addition to the main event, Heritage Library will host the following related programs, which are free and open to the public:

• From Laos to the U.S., 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 4. Learn about the rich legacy and complex heritage of the Hmong culture from Professor Lee Pao Xiong, director of the Center for Hmong Studies at Concordia University. Bonded by tradition, the Hmong are a powerful byproduct of global interactions and international relations. Explore this rich culture especially as it relates to “The Song Poet.”

• One Book Family Day, 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 8. Join the Friends of the Heritage Library in celebrating Hmong culture through games, stories and simple art projects geared for all ages.

• The Hmong Family Kitchen and Garden, 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 18. Discover the nutritious and medicinal value of foods from Zongxee Lee of Mhonpaj’s Garden, a certified organic farm. Lee will discuss some less common vegetables seen at local farmer’s markets and demonstrate how to prepare them.

• Hmong Storytime, 4-5 p.m. Wednesday, April 19. Enjoy stories from the Hmong tradition and make a related craft. Geared for ages 5 and older.

• Through the Eyes of a Refugee: Hmong Storytelling, 7-8 p.m. Monday, April 24. Ride along as Hmong storyteller and artist Tou Ger Xiong takes you on his life’s journey from the jungles of Laos to the refugee camps of Thailand to the public housing projects of America. His storytelling performance combines humor, folk tales, spoken word and personal stories into a high-energy, engaging program for all ages and backgrounds.

• Discussion Groups, 7-8 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, and 12:30-1:30 p.m. Thursday, June 1, at Heritage Library; 10-11 a.m. Tuesday, May 2, at Heritage Center, 20110 Holyoke Ave. Read the book and join others in the community in discussing “The Song Poet.”

The Heritage Library is located at 20085 Heritage Drive, Lakeville. For more information, visit www.heritagelibraryfriends.com or pick up a One Book brochure at the Heritage Library. This program was funded in part with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

St. Patrick’s Day Pajama Jam and Fundraiser
Kindermusik of the Valley is holding its annual St. Patrick’s Day Pajama Jam and Fundraiser 6:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, March 17. The jam is a fun way for parents to celebrate the day with their children from infant to age 5.

Funds raised will benefit CureSearch for Children’s Cancer’s annual hike. Kindermusik educator Summer Jothen trains for the hike each year in honor and memory of her son Aaron who lost his battle with neuroblastoma in 2013.

The Pajama Jam will take place at Kindermusik of the Valley’s main studio at 190 S. River Ridge Circle in Burnsville.

The event includes a silent auction and raffle tickets for an instrument collection. For every summer or fall enrollment between March 1-17, Kindermusik will donate $5 to the effort.

Children can take part by donating to the Wear a Pair and Share a Pair PJ Drive.

Cost is $10 per family. RSVP at kmvalley.com. Contact Helen Peterson at 952-412-0265 with questions or to donate.

Become a Master Recycler/Composter
Individuals who live or work in Dakota County can participate in the Master Recycler/Composter class to be held 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, March 14 through April 18, at the Dakota County Northern Service Center.

Learn how to inspire others to reduce waste. Understand the ins and outs of recycling, hazardous waste and composting from regional experts, and visit recycling facilities. Once classes are complete, participants volunteer 30 hours putting their skills to work with other Master Recyclers/Composters and county staff. A $30 fee covers course materials and optional field trip transportation. Scholarships are available.

The Northern Service Center is located at 1 Mendota Road W. in West St. Paul. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. The deadline for registration is March 12.

For more information or to register, visit www.dakotacounty.us and search “master recycler” or call Jenny Kedward at 952-891-7043.

Rosemount offers free open gym on non-school days
Rosemount Parks and Recreation Department will host free open gym times for students on non-school days at the Rosemount Community Center gym. All equipment for basketball, volleyball, dodge ball and kickball will be supplied. A parent or guardian is required to attend during the K-five open gym time.

Open gym will be offered: Friday, March 10; Monday, March 27; Tuesday, March 28; Wednesday, March 29; and Thursday, March 30.

Elementary school open gym for grades K-five with an adult will be 12:30-2 p.m.

Middle school/high school open gym for grades six-12 will be 2-3:30 p.m.

No registration is needed.

Volunteers remove buckthorn on Vermillion River
Volunteers from the Vermillion Riverkeepers, a nonprofit Minnesota Trout Unlimited conservation group, worked with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on March 4 to remove almost 2 acres of invasive, non-native buckthorn brush from the South Branch of the Vermillion River State Aquatic Management Area, east of Farmington.

To help raise money for its stream restoration work, and watershed education programs in local schools, Minnesota Trout Unlimited is sponsoring the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo March 17-19 at Hamline University in St. Paul. More than three dozen presentations on fly fishing are included in the ticket price, plus fly casting lessons on Hamline University’s pool. There is also a separate Fly Fishing Film and Video Showcase event on March 18.

For more information about the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo, visit www.greatwatersflyexpo.com.

Right now there are 7,000 little trout swimming in 17 Minnesota classrooms, as part of Minnesota Trout Unlimited’s watershed education program, which includes Lakeville South High School.

The students raised their fish from eggs in special coldwater aquariums. The students study fish biology and water chemistry, and take field trips to learn about streams and how land use affects water quality. Minnesota Trout Unlimited’s education program is designed to help students connect with watersheds through hands-on learning.

The program is supported by a grant from the state of Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, and is supported with the help of many local volunteers and community donations.

In May, students from Lakeville South and the other metro schools will release their rainbow trout in the Vermillion River in Farmington.

Learn more about supporting the watershed education program, volunteering on stream restoration projects, and learning about fly fishing at www.mntu.org.

Free turfgrass workshop set April 7
Dakota County is hosting a free workshop to teach property managers, groundskeepers, and other commercial and public turf managers sensible, cost-saving ways to maintain turfgrass. The workshop will be 8 a.m.­ to 2 p.m. Friday, April 7, at the Dakota County Western Service Center.

Attendees will learn practices to protect lakes and rivers while keeping turfgrass looking its best. They will also have the opportunity to attain MPCA Level 1 certification in turf care maintenance practices. Topics include fertilizer selection and application, pesticide application, equipment calibration, mowing techniques, environmental effects, soil testing, irrigation best practices and more. Lunch is provided.

The deadline to register for the workshop is March 30. To register or for more information, email [email protected] or call 952-891-7000.

Funding for the workshop is provided by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Fund, and matching funds from Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization and Dakota County. Course content was created through extensive collaboration with local experts.

Elks, Scouts partner for walleye fry
The fifth annual Elks Walleye Fish Fry is 5-7 p.m. Fridays, March 10 to April 7, at Mary, Mother of the Church, 3333 Cliff Road E., Burnsville.

The BSA Venture Crew 1776 and Farmington Boy Scout Troop 118 provide assistance to the Elk member volunteers to raise funds for their veterans, scouting, free summer camp, scholarship and charitable endeavors.

Cost for the all-you-can-eat walleye fry is $15. A “mac and cheese menu” is available for kids. Takeaway is also available.

Yellow Ribbon hosts pizza & pasta fundraiser
Rosemount Beyond the Yellow Ribbon will host an all-you-can-eat pizza and pasta fundraiser 5-8 p.m. Monday, March 20, at Fireside Restaurant, 3410 150th St. W., Rosemount.

Cost is $10 (free soda); children age 5 and younger are free. Purchase tickets at the door. Funds raised support local active military families and veterans.

Rosemount recruiting new members for Youth Commission
Rosemount’s young people who’d like to have a bigger say in their community are encouraged to apply for membership on the Youth Commission.

The commission advises the City Council on issues relevant to youth in Rosemount. Commissioners can learn about and advocate the needs of their generation.

The commission also works with other groups, such as the Rosemount Area Arts Council, to arrange community events.

The city is recruiting applicants to serve during the next school year. The Youth Commission currently has 16 members, half of whom will leave the group after graduation this spring.

Membership on the Youth Commission is open to residents of Rosemount between 14 and 18 years of age. Terms run for one year, and commissioners can be reappointed. The City Council appoints new commissioners after reviewing applications and conducting interviews.

The commission typically meets at City Hall on the fourth Wednesday of each month from 3:45-4:45 p.m.

For more information and an application form, visit www.ci.rosemount.mn.us/youth or phone 651-322-2002. Applications are due by March 24.

BBB offers spring break travel tips
As spring break inches closer, a sunny vacation becomes all the more attractive. Many people are eager to trade chilly temperatures for sunshine and the relaxing sound of waves crashing against the shore. Spring break usually means a week of fun and sun; however, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota warns people to plan ahead to avoid scams and common vacation pitfalls.

“Con artists know that students are eager to make arrangements to book a getaway,” said Susan Adams Loyd, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “They can and do use that enthusiasm to their advantage.”

Scammers commonly target students looking to find great deals online by offering enticing vacation packages at unrealistically low prices. That’s why it’s important to do your research first. If you haven’t planned a vacation before, BBB (bbb.org) is a great resource for finding travel agencies that are reputable and dependable.

Here are some additional tips from your BBB to help ensure a worry-free vacation:

• Plan ahead. The early bird gets the worm. Allow yourself the time to research hotels, flights, and area where you’re staying. Typically, the earlier the reservations are made, the better the deals you will find and the lower the risk of your favorite destination being booked solid. Making reservations in advance also locks in rates and prevents you from paying higher prices later during prime spring break season.

• Avoid broad internet searches. Try to avoid entering phrases like “best deals” into whichever search engine you use. Broad search terms like that can sometimes lead you to websites that look official, but are designed solely to rip people off.

• Be alert for travel scams. Watch out for phone calls or letters claiming that you’ve “won a trip” or websites offering prices that are too good to be true. It’s easy to extend questionable offers like these, but the vast majority of them leave hopeful travelers in limbo – and out money.

• Do your homework. Ask family and friends to recommend a travel agent or travel website and visit bbb.org for free Business Profiles. If you’re using services like Airbnb or VRBO to find accommodations, be sure to research the business and read customer reviews about any rentals you’re considering.

• Get the trip details in writing. Before making final payment, get all the details of the trip in writing. This should include the total cost, restrictions, cancellation penalties, and names of the airlines and hotels. Also review and keep a copy of the airline and hotel’s cancellation and refund policies, as well as the cancellation policies of the travel agency or vacation website – such as Travelocity or Priceline – you’re using.

• Consider travel insurance. Travel insurance is designed to cover such things as trip cancellations or medical emergencies. There are different levels of coverage based on what type of plan you purchase. Ask a lot of questions, and always read the fine print to see what’s covered and what’s not.

• Pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card gives you additional protection if something should go wrong with the travel reservation.

If you’re not a planner and decide to set off on a spring break vacation on a whim, there are still ways you can protect yourself. First, share a copy of your itinerary with a family member or friend. Include the contact information of someone joining you on your trip. Second, take a map. People rely heavily on smartphones and GPS and it’s better to be prepared for anything in the case of technical difficulties or if you’re going through an area with poor cellphone reception. Third, pack a winter survival kit if you’ll be driving through snowy conditions or mountainous regions. Finally, avoid traveling alone. Use the buddy system and stick with your friends. Use hotel safes to store extra cash and keep any valuables under lock and key.

BBB identifies top scams
There is no doubt that scams have gone high tech, but the riskiest scam is the face-to-face home improvement scam, with fake check scams running a close second, according to the new BBB Risk Index, a sophisticated analysis that goes beyond volume to look at the risk each scam type poses. The BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust kicked off National Consumer Protection Week (U.S.) and Fraud Awareness Month (Canada) with its inaugural BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report, which provides comprehensive insight into scams based on the more than 32,000 reports made to BBB Scam Tracker in 2016.

As with earlier BBB Institute research, there were some real surprises within the data: men were more vulnerable than women in seven of the top 10 scam categories; and consumers 18-24 are the most likely to lose money to a scam. New information uncovered in this analysis is that younger consumers have a lower median loss than people in their top earning years, partly because the types of scams aimed at older consumers tend to have higher median losses. While seniors also tend to lose more money than millennials when they are scammed, they fall for scams far less often. And the biggest takeaway is that no one is immune from the risk posed by scams.

The BBB Risk Index measures risk along three dimensions:

1. Exposure – How likely are you to be exposed to the con?

2. Susceptibility – If you are exposed, how likely are you to lose money?

3. Monetary loss – If you do lose money, how much is it likely to be?

Exposure X Susceptibility X Monetary Loss = Risk Index

Based on the BBB Risk Index, the riskiest top five scams overall (U.S. and Canada combined) are:

1. Home improvement scams (bbb.org/homescam)

2. Fake checks and money orders (bbb.org/fakecheckscam)

3. Employment scams (bbb.org/employmentscam)

4. Online purchase scams (bbb.org/webpurchasescam)

5. Advance fee loan scams (bbb.org/loanscam)

The BBB Risk Index is a paradigm shift in how to calculate the true impact of different scams. In the past, virtually all involved organizations used volume alone to create “top scam” lists, but this approach ignored two other equally critical factors: the susceptibility of the population and dollar losses. For instance, the scam most reported to BBB Scam Tracker in 2016 – by far – was the tax scam. However, consumers are savvy to this con and rarely fall for it, so it did not even make the BBB Risk Index’s top 10. Employment scams were three times as risky for consumers as tax scams, and ranked No. 3 on the BBB Risk Index.

“Scams erode trust in the marketplace, and BBB Scam Tracker was created to advance BBB’s mission by protecting consumers and ethical businesses,” notes Genie Barton, president of the BBB Institute. “Scammers damage the reputations of the well-respected brands they spoof, and they slow commercial growth by making consumers hesitant to do business online. Every dollar stolen by a scammer is a dollar not spent with a reputable business that has competed fairly to earn those dollars.”

Home improvement scams, ranked No. 1 on the BBB Risk Index, was the only category in the top 10 to rely on in-person contact. Because of the highly personal nature of this scam – someone literally at your doorstep – the exposure rate was low but the susceptibility rate and the median loss were both very high, making it the riskiest scam of all.

Fake check scams (bbb.org/fakecheckscam) take on a variety of approaches, but all rely on the fact that consumers assume that when a check “clears” their account and funds are made available, they are in the clear to spend those funds. In fact, it may take several weeks for a fake check to be detected and returned, and that includes cashier’s checks and money orders. The BBB Institute also notes that fake checks are used in about 30-40 percent of employment scams, and appear frequently in other scams, as well. Whenever a consumer is asked to deposit a check and then send funds back out for any reason, that’s a big red flag, according to BBB.

The full report is available at bbb.org/RiskReport. Consumers and businesses are urged to report all scams to BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker, whether or not money is actually lost.