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February 18, 2004     Sentinel Tribune
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February 18, 2004

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SENTINEL TRIBUNE Area Focus Wednesday, February 18, 2004 page Prevent identity theft with your credit report Shirley Anderson-Porisch, M.S., AFC Recent reports indicate that identity theft is the number one consumer crime in the United States. Whenever I'm with a group teaching about how to pre- vent becoming a victim of identity theft, there are always a few people in the audience who either are vic- tims of identity theft or know people who are victims of the crime. It isn't just a big city crime - it happens even in rural Minnesota! Many people are not familiar with one of the new identity theft prevention strategies for a consumer is to monitor their credit report on a regular basis. Some financial experts call credit reports "a gold mine of infor- mation about you." Consumers are encouraged to look at their credit report every year and especially before making a major pur- chase. Consumer credit reports are generated from a credit bureau - a clearinghouse for credit history information. Creditors provide the bureaus with information about how their customers pay their bills. Bureaus assemble the information including public record infor- mation and turn the data into a file on each consumer. In return creditors can obtain credit reports on con- sumers who wish to open new accounts. Even though there are more than 1,000 local credit bureaus, most of them are owned by or under contract with one of three major cred- it bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUni6n. These bureaus maintain cen- tralized credit record data- bases for more than 170 mil- lion Americans and generate more than a half billion cred- it reports annually. A credit report contains 4 types of information - per- sonal (name, address, employer, social security number, etc.); public record (liens, bankruptcy, etc); cred- it history (loans, credit cards, other credit arrange- ments, etc.); and inquiries from potential creditors. Federal and state laws restrict who has access to sensitive information but anyone with a legitimate business purpose can gain access to your credit history. Those would include: poten- tial creditors; landlords; insurance , companies; employers and potential employers; and companies with which you have a credit account. Some information cannot be included in your credit report including medical information unless consent is given; negative informa- tion including a bankruptcy that is more than 10 years old; and debts that are more than seven years old. Under Minnesota law, you can purchase your credit report once a year for $3 from each of the 3 major credit bureaus separately. You are entitled to one free copy of your report each year if: you are unemployed and plan to look for a job in 60 days; you're on welfare: or your report is inaccurate because of fraud including identity theft. Here are the toll free num- bers for each bureau; Equifax 1-800-685-1111; Experian 1-888-397-3742; and Trans Union 1-800-888- 4213. Be a savvy consumer and exercise your right to know what's in your credit report today! It's available only 3 phone calls away! County has $170,000 available for conservation through EQIP By Mercia Heiling Redwood SWCD Producers in Redwood County have the opportunity to receive a portion of $170,000 to assist them in installing conservation prac- tices through the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Staff with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Soil and Water Conservation District have been actively promoting the program which offers finan- cial and technical assistance to implement conservation measures. The allotted amount of federal funding was recently announced, and sign ups for EQIP are presently being taken. Eligible practices through the program address issues of water qual- ity, pasture management, wildlife and trees, livestock management, conservation cropping systems and struc- tural practices. Cost share of up to 50 percent is available to assist producers in installing con- servation practices, which includes construction of con- -servation structures, on erodible land or other prob- lem areas. Structural practices eli- gible under EQIP include the construction or installa- tion of a grassed waterway, terrace, diversion, grade sta- bilization structure, lined waterway or outlet, sedi- ment basin, streamed chan- nel stabilization, stream- bank and shoreline protec- tion and water and sediment control basin. Interested landowners and operators are encour- aged to contact the Redwood County NRCS/SWCD office soon to learn more about the many opportunities avail- able through EQIP. Producers are reminded that other programs are available to assist with con- servation needs that may not qualify under EQIP. If you have any conservation concerns or questions, please telephone 507-637-2427, Ext. 3, or stop by the office located in the Ag Service Center in Redwood Falls. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. CLASSIFIED ADS WORK FOR You Next Week00 American Profile... Preaching the blues Over the past 60 ars, B.B. King has established himself as one of the most enfluential blues musicians of his time. But this music legend didn't start out -anfing to be a blues singer He wanted to be a preaeber. In Addition... Chicken artk'hoke lm.c:ta leap Year Capihd Even at a wake, a reason to smile By Tom Conroy DNR Southern Region Information Officer There weren't many peo- ple at his wake the other day. Not that he wasn't well- liked. He was. But when you're 93, with no family in the area, there aren't many folks left to pay respects. His son and I were good buddies in high school. The family lived on a small farm a few miles from town and I often hung out there. It's where I learned to disc a field, put up hay and ride a half-wild horse - bareback. The son was a country boy through and through. He drove an always dusty '51 Chevy, sometimes had a faint smell of cow manure about him, and was far more comfortable on the seat of a tractor beneath the hot sun than behind a desk beneath fluorescent lights. After high school, we drifted apart. Back then, I always figured I'd someday be living the high life in the big city while my friend would return from the Navy and settle down on the farm. Funny thing about assump- tions. Instead, it was I who returned to the country and it was him who wound up in the big city. With the old man's death, that family's connec- tion to the rural landscape is likely gone for good. The farm was sold years ago. The son, and his son and daugh- ter, have become twin Citians. Similar obituaries have been written across Minnesota's countryside countless times over the past couple of decades. They'll likely continue to be written, at least for the foreseeable future. As the small farmer and the small town continue to struggle to make ends meet, the green grass of the Metro area and regional trade centers such as St. Cloud, Mankato, and Rochester becomes ever more attractive. The hard irony is this. As those of lesser means leave for the bright lights of the city to chase new dreams, there are those of greater means passing by in the opposite direction, in search of a different sort of dream. The dream they seek is one of scene and solitude, an escape from the bright lights and commotion of the city. Most often, they are escaping to a lake or quiet woods within commuting distance of work (a distance growing ever longer, since today's commuter no longer drives a '51 Chevy on dusty eountry roads.) In the parl- ance of conservation, the effect of this growing trend is called fragmentation. You can eat an entire elephant, it's been said, if you do it bit by tiny bit. Well, with our insatiable appetite for a "place in the countr3," or "on the lake," we've been chewing on the elephant for a good long time now. And. the effects are becoming ever more apparent. Remaining habitats are being fragment- ed into smaller and smaller parcels that cannot sustain healthy plant and animal populations. Where once a woodlot existed, (for no other reason than that the owner knew it was good for it to be there) the bulldozer snorting and grunting - one day arrives to bring down the trees. (The new development, then, is named after the trees no longer there.) Where once uninterrupt- ed. expanses of coneflower, bluestem, and numerous other grasses and flowers covered rolling hills, bump- ing up against vibrant "wet- lands, providing haven for numerous wildlife and wel- come salve for weary human eyes, roads now lead to scat- tered struetures of sticks, brick, glass and m6rtar. There's nothing wrong with wanting a lake. or a secluded quiet woods. But should be a little nizant of the fact lakes are becoming degraded. And heck of a long good woodg: tinue to lose grasslands in this our water quality's rating. While it's easy disillusioned, there . for hope. Ht caused our natural problems. Human can also correct some problems we've prevent further In many cases, that pening. As the urban sprawl creep and further out countryside, resources prominent in local making processes. Local and elected regularly make affecting natural are increasingly that it is better to roof in good try to rEX it after starts pouring in. zens, conservation tions, and others more attention. The face of Minnesota will change. New little or no previoUS tion to the 1,' quently take the families whose lived and worked on for generations. My friend stopped at the his way to his The house and crumbling, he bothered him some. back, towards the and the it's much the s bers it as a kid. parent's wake, you something to smile Find it fast in the Sentinel Tribune Serv,ce and Business Directory WESTER'S LOCKER Bacon - Ham - Sausage Retail Meats Custom Slaughtering - Sides & Quarters Deer Processing Available 536 1st Ave., Westbrook Tim Wester, owner 507-274-5900 State Bank of Lucan Serving the area since 1936 106 Main Street, Lucan, MN.50255 507-747-2214 or Phone toll free 888-747-2214 Member FDIC Fax: 507-747-2160 Evers Chiropractic Westbrook Area Wellness Center Dr. Mark A. Evers; Dr. Denise A. Evers 648 7th St., Westbrook, MN 507-274-5200 Tues. & Thurs. 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. :l DUANE'S BODY SHI ;,:;->-, Auto Body Repair & Specializing in auto glaSs Call 507-274-6655 I Tracy Service - Center Tom Hahn, Owner [ 410 Craig Ave, Tracy, MN. 56175 507-629-9243 Westbrook, MN. G & R ELECTRIC 168 4th St., Tracy, MN. 56175 Maytag, Magic Chef, Jenn Air RCA & GE TV's & VCR & DirecTV We service all makes and modelS Residential & Cmmercial Wiring Phone 507-629-4250 e-mail: elect6 DON,S PLUMBING for all your plumbing, heating, & air conditioning needs call 507-274-5316 I appreciate your business. Don Paplow Julie's Studio 10 Family hair care & nail design. Hair, Nails, Tanning & Waxing Hours: Tues. & Thurs. 12 - 8 Wed. & Fri. 8:30 - 5:00 Sat. 9:00 - 1:00 341 6th St. Walnut Grove, MN. 5O7-859-2000 Revere Auto Body & $25 Gift Certificate at T-TommY 's' Largo, or the Med Club with a replacement or $500.00 Body FREE pick up & delivery. Loaner car We can handle all your 40 years + experience. 1-800-752-6103 M.L. GRAMS & ASSOCIATES, APA Melissa L Grams, CPA Certified Public Accountants I can help you with your tax & accounting needsl 628 First Ave., Westbrook, MN 507-274-6171 Jackels Construction, Inc. New Homes Additions Remodeling Siding Garages Doors Windows Shingling Finish Work Design & Drafting Matt Jeckels, owner 274-5499 or 360-6420 Licensed & Insured Uc.#20276150 STEFFEN ELECTRIC Since 1939 Electrical Contractor Appliance Sales & Service 507-859-2114 If you would like to have Vvde range o products * lie urance rid eives * Health msumn t plato * And olh ben Annuis o membenp ] Thrivent Finondol for Lutheran5- 2032I R6-03 20003510 your message appear on this directory, please contact Wayne Rue at 274-6136 or 800-410-1859