Business Notes Dec. 2
Marine association elects Besmehn to board
Ricky Besmehn, owner of Brainerd Propeller Inc., was recently elected to the National Marine Propeller Association (NMPA) board of directors at its annual convention in Las Vegas in November.
The NMPA provides training and support in product and technical knowledge for its members and promotes ethical business conduct between members and the boating community.
Mercil joins Deerwood Technologies
DEERWOOD — Jeramy Mercil joined Deerwood Technologies as an enterprise solution architect.
Mercil has 15-years’ experience in information security, technology process management and custom solution development. He will also become the company’s compliance officer.
Mercil’s expertise in the management of enterprise data security, healthcare and public sector technologies and customer service skills were listed as strengths. Jason Przymus, Deerwood’s vice president of business development, said Mercil has been regarded across the nation as an expert in information security, compliance and enterprise technology management.” Mercil led engineering teams for a number of America’s largest consulting firms including Insight and Eide Bailly.
Bratney joins Lakewood family nurse practitioner student
STAPLES — Colleen Bratney, registered nurse, a family nurse practitioner student at the University of North Dakota, has chosen to do her clinicals at Lakewood Health System. Bratney, originally from Bemidji, will follow various healthcare providers on a daily basis to learn about the different aspects of rural family practice medicine.
Bratney earned her bachelor of science degree in biology from Bemidji State University, her bachelor of science in nursing from South Dakota State University and will complete her master of science in nursing in May 2013. Bratney has a special interest in partnering with patients to provide holistic preventative care, including education, encouragement and support of healthy lifestyles.
BBB warns of computer virus
A tricky new computer virus is making the rounds, and infected users see pop-up messages which claim to be from the FBI and threaten people with a fine or prison unless they pay up, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) reported.
The virus, meanwhile, locks up your computer, holding it – and you – hostage, thus its name: “ransomware.” Computer users pick up this virus by clicking on malicious links in emails and messages sent through social media sites or by visiting compromised websites. From there, a notice like the one below appears. The BBB offered tips on how to avoid ransomware and advice on what to do if you become the next victim.
“Your PC is blocked due to the illegal viewing or distribution of copyrighted content. To unblock the computer, you must pay the fine of $100.”
People who have been hit by ransomware report seeing different versions of these warning messages; some ask for larger amounts of money and some claim to be from local police or the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
However, all of these messages are fraudulent. Users are told they need to pay requested amounts via a prepaid Green Dot MoneyPak cash card — which are difficult to trace — or they will be locked out of their computers permanently and face possible criminal charges.
While it’s true that computer users will remain locked out until they get expert help, the threat of legal action is nothing more than a bluff.
“This scam, like so many scams, operates on fear and confusion,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Faced with supposed large fines or the threat of investigation by the FBI, it’s easy to see why people follow these bogus instructions. We’re telling people not to fall into that trap.”
People with infected computers will want to have the issue addressed as quickly as possible. It will likely take a computer repair expert or firm – one that’s been checked out first at bbb.org — to restore functionality and remove any lurking malware. However, the BBB is advising people not to pay the scammers. Computer security experts are confident that paying the scammers will not get your computer unfrozen.
In fact, some believe that might just open the door to increased demands. People should also ignore any requests to provide personal or financial information.
To avoid ransomware, consumers should:
• Make sure their computer has the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.
• Avoid questionable websites and don’t click on any suspicious links.
• Be aware that social networks are used to transmit and spread this virus and others like it.
It’s also a good idea to keep all your files backed up. If your computer becomes infected by ransomware, you should contact a computer expert or repair firm immediately and file a complaint with the FBI at ic3.gov.
Farm loans guide available
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is committed to providing clear and concise explanation of its farm loan process and is pleased to announce the online publication titled “Your guide to FSA Farm Loans.”
The guide is designed to serve as an informational tool and resource to help you in providing outreach and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers.
The guide, written in “plain language”, provides information about FSA’s farm loans and loan servicing options. A list of additional resources is also included in the guide.
The guide is available online at www.fsa.usda.gov/dafl.
Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants awarded
The Minnesota Historical Society today announced it has awarded 53 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grants of up to $7,000, totaling $311,520 in 34 counties.
The society also announced that the next grants deadline is Jan. 11, 2013, which may be the final deadline for this biennium depending upon available funds. The Grants Manual is available at legacy.mnhs.org/grants. Applications are accepted only through the Society’s grants portal at grants.mnhs.org.
“Most grant projects in this latest round build upon earlier work, richly extending Minnesota’s history and legacy for future generations,” said David Grabitske, manager of outreach services for the Minnesota Historical Society. “These projects wisely use the power of history to transform lives and communities – whether it’s exploring a recently restored building or reading a historic newspaper article about a once-forgotten relative.”
Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants are made possible by the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.
The amendment supports efforts to preserve Minnesota land, water and legacy, including Minnesota history and cultural heritage.
The latest round of recipients of “Fast Track” grants include:
• Crow Wing County, Cuyuna Iron Range Heritage Network, $4,900, Charley’s Interactive Historical Preservation Project: To add to an existing exhibit the insightful audio reminiscences by Charley Fletcher of the Great War period in Crow Wing County.
• Mille Lacs County, Mille Lacs County Historical Society, $6,895, acquire microfilm reader/printer, to make primary records accessible.
The Society received a 2011 legislative appropriation to award a total of $10.5 million in Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants during the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years.
The grants provide an unprecedented opportunity for non-profit and educational organizations, government units and tribal organizations to preserve and share the state’s history and cultural heritage.
Grants are available for history and historic preservation projects in three tiers: “Fast Track” grants of $7,000 or less, mid-size grants between $7,001 and $50,000 and large grants of more than $50,001. For more information on the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants program, including application deadlines, visit http://legacy.mnhs.org/grants.
Minnesota Organic Conference planned Jan. 11-12
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is now taking registrations for the 2013 Minnesota Organic Conference, Jan. 11-12 at the River’s Edge Convention Center in downtown St. Cloud. More than 500 people are expected to attend.
Now in its 12th year, this farmer-focused conference offers 36 educational sessions for crop and livestock producers as well as vegetable and fruit growers. There will be special programming for farmers interested in transitioning to organic and for beginning farmers. Keynote speakers this year are Minnesota State Climatologist Mark Seeley and organic certification expert and advisor Jim Riddle. Farmers and researchers from New York, Arkansas, Illinois, Wisconsin and Montana are also on the agenda, along with a lot of home grown expertise.
Sessions start promptly at 9 a.m. on Jan. 11 and 8 a.m. Jan. 12. In addition to the educational programs, a trade show with more than 80 booths will feature equipment manufacturers and suppliers, seed companies, fertilizer dealers, certifying agencies, agricultural consultants, soil labs, nonprofit organizations, public agencies, organic traders, buyers and distributors and many other resources.
Early bird registration costs $125 for the two day conference with significant discounts for those registering from the same farm or business operation. Early registration rates end Dec. 28. One day registrations are also available. Registration includes conference snacks and meals, which draw rave reviews every year and are made with ingredients from organic farms and companies in Minnesota and neighboring states. A block of hotel rooms will be held at the Kelly Inn, which adjoins the conference center, until Dec. 15.
For more information, go online to www.mda.state.mn.us/food/organic or call 651-201-6012.