Click It or Ticket' campaign running

Ten years after Minnesota implemented a primary seat belt law, law enforcement is conducting another “Click It or Ticket” campaign from May 20 through June 2 to remind motorists that seat belts and child car seats can save lives.

The primary seat belt law took effect June 9, 2009 in honor of Meghan Cooper, who attended school at Kenyon-Wanamingo in southeastern Minnesota community of Kenyon. The unbuckled 15-year-old died in 1999 after being ejected in a crash from the rear seat of a car.

A year prior to the primary seat belt law, 152 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads. In 2018, preliminary numbers show that number decreased to 92, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said in a news release.

In the five years (2004-08) leading up to the law, 51 percent of all fatalities (1,008) were known to be unbelted motorists. In the last five years (2014-18), that number decreased to 34 percent (446), the DPS said.

Minnesota law states that drivers and passengers in all seating positions must be buckled up or seated in the correct child safety seat.

According to the 2018 Minnesota Seat Belt Survey, 92 percent of front seat occupants are wearing their seat belts.

Minnesotans struggling to pay their heating bills can apply for help from the state’s Energy Assistance Program through Friday, May 31.

The Energy Assistance Program helps low-income homeowners and renters by paying their heating bills directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors. Minnesotans who earn less than 50 percent of the state’s median income ($49,698 for a family of four) are encouraged to apply, especially households that include children under the age of six, people with disabilities, veterans and seniors.

This program can also help cool homes for vulnerable people such as seniors, said Steve Kelley, commissioner of the Department of Commerce, which administers the program. “We urge all Minnesotans who may qualify to apply for energy assistance.”

Last year, the program served more than 126,000 Minnesota households. The average benefit per household was about $545. Households receiving assistance had an average income of just over $18,000.

Households must apply at their local service provider, found online or by calling 1-800-657-3710. Funding is given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Minnesota is looking for volunteers willing to check the water quality in lakes, streams and rivers, including many in Douglas County.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says it needs nearly 700 volunteers to do a simple water clarity test twice a month during the summer. Monitors check lakes by boat and streams from the bank or a bridge. The agency provides equipment and training; volunteers need no prior experience.

The data they gather complements the agency’s intensive water monitoring around the state. In some cases, the information gathered by volunteers is the only monitoring done on a lake or stream.

For more information, visit www.pca.state.mn.us/cmp/enroll or call 651-296-6300 or 800-657-3864. The website offers an interactive map.