Tri-CAP Receives $25,000 Donation from Stearns Bank and the Norman C. Skalicky Foundation

Tri-CAP is honored to receive a $25,000 donation from Stearns Bank and the Norman C. Skalicky Foundation. This generous donation will help to support Tri-CAP’s work providing opportunities to many local families working to increase their economic security.

About Tri-CAP
Tri-CAP is a private, non-profit, Community Action Program founded in 1965. Serving Benton, Stearns, and Sherburne Counties, Tri-CAP provides assistance to low-income residents by helping them to meet their basic needs and providing education and assistance as they work toward financial self-sufficiency. Community Action Programs change lives every day, one person at a time.

About the Norman C. Skalicky Foundation

Norman C. Skalicky is CEO and Chairman of Stearns Bank, N.A. The Norman C. Skalicky Foundation (NCSF) was formed in 2001 with the help of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation. Since then, NCSF has initiated several fund-raising challenges and supported various community causes to benefit those in need. Recipients of this great community resource include Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Clubs, United Way, various food shelf organizations and several disaster relief efforts.

About Stearns Bank | We get the job done!® 

Minnesota-based Stearns Bank National Association is a $2 billion, independently-owned financial institution with locations in Minnesota, Florida and Arizona, and over 33,000 small business customers nationwide, in every U.S. state. Recognized as the #1 performing bank in the nation by both American Banker and Independent Banker magazines, Stearns specializes in small business lending and equipment financing. Driven by its mission to deliver outstanding personal service, fast decisions and customized finance solutions, Stearns gets the job done! For more information, visit


Tri-CAP Receives Otto Bremer Trust Grant for $55,000

Tri-County Action Program Inc. (Tri-CAP) is pleased to announce they have received a $55,000 grant from Otto Bremer Trust. These funds will help support the Tax Program that Tri-CAP administers at many sites.

Tri-CAP’s mission is to expand opportunities for the economic and social well-being of our residents and our communities. We have 70+ staff who provide services in a variety of programs which offer opportunities households experiencing low incomes to work toward self-sufficiency. The programs offered include Housing Assistance, Financial Fitness, SNAP Outreach, Displaced Homemaker Program, Energy Assistance, Weatherization, and public transportation. Our stakeholders include the community, government and non-profit human service agencies with which we have partnerships, and the clients who qualify for our services. The agency uses a real-time strategic planning process through which the board and staff plan for systematic readiness and continuous responsiveness. Through this strategic planning process, one identified goals of the tax program is to increase the financial education provided to tax program clients.


The Otto Bremer trust award ensures that the Tax Program’s mission to provide free tax preparation services for the underserved, in both urban and non-urban locations is accomplished. Service is targeted to low-to-moderate income individuals, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking. Tri-CAP currently provides Tax Assistance Clinics five days a week beginning in January through mid-April at the following location sites: YMCA – Elk River, St. Cloud Technical and Community College, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, and ROCORI Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE). We also have a drop-off site in Foley. The Tax Program operates on a first-come first-serve basis where clients meet with a volunteer tax preparer to complete their income tax forms and filing. We engage over 100 volunteers in this program each year and have strong partnerships with area colleges for volunteer recruitment. For the past tax season, the agency assisted approximately 1,533 households (3,924 returns were files) with total returns over $2.8 million. Tri-CAP anticipates serving 2,000 households with tax assistance this year. Tri-CAP has eight years of experience with providing free tax clinics.


The Otto Bremer Trust, based in St. Paul, Minn., is a private charitable trust established in 1944 by founder Otto Bremer, a successful banker and community business leader. OBT owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank and also manages a diversified investment portfolio. The mission of OBT is to invest in people, places and opportunities in the Upper Midwest. Since its inception, OBT has invested more than $600 million in organizations throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, and western Wisconsin. Visit

“Legend of the Old Crowe”

I have always appreciated a good tale. My Dad and Grandpa could readily spin an impromptu yarn, a dubious talent spawned by their Swedish heritage. The Vikings of old were fond of their legends and Nordic sagas. Notations on their nautical maps even ended with, “beyond this point there be monsters”.

I grew up in the country about thirty miles west of the Twin Cities. When I wasn’t working or imprisoned at school, I could be found exploring the great outdoors. These were simpler times and we boys had free roaming rights on all of the neighboring farms and woodlands.

There were many regional legends of by-gone lore. One place in particular had served as the epicenter to some very strange and supernatural transpiring’s . . . the “Old Crowe Farm”. At one time, in the pre-settlement era, the future site of the Old Crowe Farm had been a Lakota Sioux burial ground. There were several mounds and the subsequent pioneers often found arrowheads and other artifacts. It was even reported over the decades that during the “blood moon” eclipses (when the shadow of the earth fell across a full moon) the locals could hear chanting and drumbeats and see an unearthly glow emanating from the burial mounds.

In the 1920’s a man called Crowe built a two story farmhouse adjacent to the burial mounds. His four hundred acre farm was situated in a valley surrounded by high hills and no close neighbors. Old man Crowe took a pretty, young wife and over the next ten years was blessed with four children. Things were tolerable in the Crowe household until the onset of the Great Depression and the drought. The old man began to drink heavily and his wife took their children and left him. His descent into oblivion came to a head one blood-moon night in the master bedroom upstairs.

A local rite of passage for area teen-age boys was to camp out on the grassy knoll adjacent to the ruins of the Old Crowe farmhouse and the Sioux Indian burial mounds. The house structure was still there, but in sad condition. You could still see where Old Man Crowe kicked out the bedroom window. Sven, Jim and I set up our tent, ready to prove to the world that we had arrived, tested our courage, come of age. Of course there was a September, full blood-moon. Sven had a single shot .410 shotgun. I had a Remington semi-auto .22 pistol. Jim just zipped himself entirely into his sleeping bag – from head to foot. Midnight rolled around and the three of us were as quiet as church mice. I could hear my heart beating and feel the pulse in my eye lids. All of a sudden there was a horrendous scream, coming from the burial mounds.

“Holy Mother of God”, said Jim from inside his sleeping bag (he was a good Catholic boy).

“Give me your pistol,” ordered Sven. Then he zipped down the fly on the tent, flashlight in hand, and walked out into the light of the blood moon. BANG, POW, ZING! Sven fired my pistol.

“You alright?”

“Bring the shotgun.”

“Let me know what happens,” whimpered Jim, still cocooned in his sleeping bag.

By the time I caught up to Sven, he said, “whatever it was ran into the Old Crowe house and up the stairs. Let’s check it out.”

“You sure?”

“We’re here to be men, aren’t we?”

“Guess so.”

Step by step we entered the rickety, dilapidated relic of a homestead. Sven was first, flashlight in one hand, pistol in the other. I followed two steps behind with the shotgun and we began to ascend the staircase. We were headed toward the master bedroom, squeaking casements underfoot, where Old Man Crowe had died.

BANG, CRASH, BOOM! The flashing specter ran around Sven and through my legs, lunging past us down the stairs – out into the blood moon of the burial grounds.

“What was it?” I cried.

“Nothing but a red fox,” laughed Sven.

“What are we going to tell Jim?”

“Leave that entirely to me,” said Sven with a devilish grin.

And so the legend of the Old Crowe farm grew by one more chapter, “The Ghost of the Blood-Moon”.

February energy tips: Take a quick look inside your home. If there is frost on the windows there is too much humidity inside your home. The recommended relative humidity is from 30 to 40%. Anything higher and you will have air quality and humidity problems. If you have black staining on the ceiling adjacent to the outside wall, you probably have ice-dams on your roof. This is caused by hot air leaking from your living area into your attic. The biggest source of hot air leakage is usually your attic access scuttle hole. A second source of air leakage are holes around wiring or plumbing, or other vents that penetrate into your attic. Is your furnace short-cycling (coming on and off every five minutes)? If so, your furnace is probably starved for air in the combustion cycle. Change your furnace filter, and if the problem persists, you will need a service technician to do a furnace check-up, with a possible clean and tune of your furnace. If you are experiencing any of these problems, and are eligible for energy assistance, call Tri-CAP. We may have the helpful programs that you need to get your residence back to tip-top shape.

Tri-CAP blog February 2019

By: Stephen Bjorklund


Take A Look At Your Home

Tri-CAP’s energy advisor program seeks to improve your homes heating and electrical burden. With a little information, you can look for some of the same signs that an energy advisor looks for. In only about five minutes, you can make many valuable observations.

First, be advised that the two biggest enemies of your home are water leakage and air leakage. I am going to list some very obvious signs of these problems. Picture your home like a winter jacket. Does it keep the water/snow out? Does it keep the cold air out? Does it keep the warm air inside? If you are cold or wet, your jacket, or your home, is not efficient and improvements can be made.

Go outside and stand in your front yard. Does the yard slope away from the structure? If not, water can pool next to your home and end up in the walls or basement. Does the home have gutters and downspouts? Same problem if missing. What condition are the roofing; siding; windows and doors? If any are in poor condition, water and air leakage will follow. Is there frost on the bottom of the windows? If yes, you have too much relative humidity in the living space (above 40%) which will cause extreme air quality issues and even mold in your home. Is there an uneven snow-melt pattern on your roof, or icicles at the eaves? Then you have hot air leaking from your living space into your attic. Can you see the stud framing lines or nail head pattern through your siding (shows up as frost lines or frost spots)? Then you have a bad or absent vapor barrier in your outside walls. The moisture is transferring through your walls, and can cause a multitude of problems (including health issues and high energy bills). What is the tree cover like around the home? Ideally pine trees should be planted to the North and West, and big leaf trees to the South and to the East. This shelters the home from winter winds and the hot summer sun. It also give you free solar heating in the winter. Are there heavy bushes next to the house? This traps water and makes for structural problems. Does the home have window shades or blinds? Using the blinds correctly traps the heat and keeps out the cold. Look at the chimney or vent pipes on the roof. Does the smoke or exhaust gas fall downhill from the chimney, or rise up into the sky? If it drops and rolls down the roof, the furnace, water heater or wood stove may be back-drafting. This may introduce harmful gasses into your living space, as well as costing you more money for heating. If you see problem signs in any of these examples, find out the reason why. Your family will be healthier and you won’t be wasting your hard earned income.

Next month we’ll give you some very simple tips to help you check out the conditions inside your home.

January energy tips: If you noticed some problems with your home, by doing the five-minute check-up listed above, call Tri-CAP. If you are income eligible, ask for an energy advisor home visit. There may be a number of programs that will help you achieve maximum efficiency for your heating and electrical burden.

Tri-CAP Blog January 2019

By: Stephen Bjorklund

Wistful Time

Have you ever witnessed an older person sitting in a chair and staring out a window? Sometimes they remain there, unmoving, seemingly for hours. Whatever could be happening?

When I was ten, we lived by a small lake surrounded by wooded hills and about a dozen homes. The pond was Indianhead Lake and the area was dubbed Indian Hills. There were probably fifteen kids within a year of the same age, and we could always put together an impromptu baseball or football game. Football could be rugged – two of the boys that lived beyond Overholt’s Hill were the Wright brothers, Jeff and Paul. Years later, they both went on to become professional football players, and when they tackled us normal, mortal kids, we would frequently see stars. But that was just a side-show to the premiere game afoot . . . hockey and ice skating.

The Dad’s around the lake took turns shoveling off a hockey rink. It was the big draw for the local kids. Eventually, the Dad’s built a warming house, like a super-sized fish house. It had benches on either side where we could sit and strap on our skates. There was a table at one end and usually once a weekend, all winter long, the Mom’s would bring out a mid-day meal of sloppy joes or chili and crackers, along with hot apple cider. I remember that we would skate and play hockey until our ankles turned to mush, to the point where we could barely walk. But even this was not the real game afoot.

There was a certain girl, name of Claudia, who lived on the high hill on the South Slope of Indianhead. How to describe her? Every one of the neighborhood boys had their gaze fixed upon Claudia. When she arrived to skate, the hockey puck would slide unattended all the way across the rink. The goalie would abandon his post. She never played hockey with us rough-neck boys – she would just figure skate, sliding and pirouetting like a swan on glass. She had curly blond hair, blue eyes and moved like a dream. She had a white fur hat, a white wool jacket fringed with fur at the collar and sleeves.

Have you ever witnessed an older gentleman staring out a window? Maybe he is sitting in a warming house, lacing up his skates, waiting for a certain someone.

December energy tips: First of all, happy holidays and happy memories to one and all. If you are a renter, here’s some money saving tips – use CFL or LED light bulbs, they cost a little more up front, but will last much longer and save you big bucks in the end; close your drapes and blinds at night, open them on sunny days; clean dirty light bulbs – they work better; take shorter showers; run your dishwasher when full; have your landlord lower the temp on your water heater to 120 degrees; clean your dryer lint filter regularly, a dirty filter reduces energy efficiency; set your fridge temperature at 36 degrees and your freezer at 6 degrees; when cooking, use the right sized pan and put a lid on it; set your thermostat at 68 degrees and wear a sweater; put your computer and other attendant equipment on a power strip and turn it off when not using the electronics.

Tri-CAP Blog December 2018

By: Stephen Bjorklund

Moving Day

Once again I move. Things will look different, be different. The landscape and the people will change. Life will change. I will miss the old and hope the new is a great adventure. One thing for sure, with rare exception, all of us will re-locate in our lifetime.

I have moved eleven times, four with my parents and seven with my wife, and as time progressed, with wife and children. We have lived in the Twin Cities area, including St. Louis Park, Edina, Medina, South Minneapolis, Maple Plain and Minnetonka Beach. We lived in rural Easton (Southern Minnesota); rural Ashby (Western Minnesota); and rural Foreston (North Central Minnesota). We have also assisted our four children with moves to college and then to their first, second or third home. In the process we accumulated every piece of moving equipment known to man including trailers and a flat-bed truck. All of the equipment has received a brisk work-out.

So why would anyone in their right mind move so much? In my case, I come from a lumber and construction family. We move for two reasons – to follow the work opportunities and to capitalize on the sale of the home we have built or extensively remodeled. The strategy is that after four or five moves, your home and property will be paid for – no more mortgage! But with building recessions and economic downturns, we were obliged to add two moves to achieve that goal.

Our last change took us from Ashby in Western Minnesota to Foreston in Central Minnesota. It was my wife’s turn to pick the location (my last turn took us to the fabulous waterfowl hunting of Ottertail County), and she chose to be closer to family. We took out a map and stuck a pin in the center, transecting three out of four of our children’s home locations. The pin fell upon rural Foreston, so here we are. I must admit that I miss the duck-hunting but revel in the proximity to our seven grandkids. Oddly, my wife doesn’t at all miss the duck hunting.

So what have I learned from all of this trans-migration? The people in Minnesota are great – no matter where you go. There really is a “Minnesota Nice”. If you think the winters are bad in northern or western Minnesota, you have never experienced the flat plains of Southern Minnesota. It snows so much and blows so hard that most of the eagles are bald. The fishing and hunting in western Minnesota is beyond belief. An interesting thing happens, though. When you are so close to all of that natural abundance, you grow to take it for granted. When I was young, we used to drive four hours one way to duck hunt by Fergus Falls. But when we lived next to Ashby’s famous waterfowl mecca, Lake Christina, we would find ourselves inside by the fireplace playing checkers. I used to think that the wildest drivers lived in New Orleans or Los Angeles, but now my pick would be St. Cloud (I live in Foreston and commute 30 miles every day to St. Cloud). They have raised driving to an exhilarating contact sport – akin to bumper cars! I am never disappointed with the adrenalin rush of my commute. It probably keeps me heart healthy – kind of like working out in the gym. So far, I have been able to keep at least one inch away from my fellow commuters. You have to stay alert, though – kind of like a fighter pilot.

Well, the movers are here so I have to end this. Today’s move is a rather small one, we are moving our offices from one place to another in the same building. Piece of cake. But it’s still another move.


Energy tip of the month: It’s a matter of degrees. Every time you turn on a switch, plug something in, turn up the thermostat, or use the water it is costing you money. The trick is to be conscious of the resources that you are using. When not in use, turn things off or unplug them. (Even when turned off, many appliances are drawing a “phantom load”, using electricity in the stand-by mode). Use a strip plug for your office equipment, and turn off the strip plug when not using the computer, printer, fax machine, etc. If you are not going to be home, turn down your thermostat in the winter. When you are home, wear a sweater or use a blanket, and turn down the thermostat to 65 degrees. Use ceiling fans to move the heat down to where the people are (hot air pools at the ceiling). Take shorter showers; wash your dishes in the dishwasher and in cold water. Washing by hand wastes lots of hot water, energy, and your money. Get your home weatherized. Get a clean & tune of your furnace, and change the furnace filter every month. It’s a matter of degrees, so make good choices and keep your money in your wallet!

Tri-CAP Blog for November 2018

By Stephen Bjorklund

The Flow

Have you ever experienced the sensation of being in the flow of things, in tune with life, in perfect harmony with the state of affairs? For many who revere the fall season, it may be possible to attain such a blissful state.
Check out the essential components . . . it is the heart of the harvest season, all of man’s planning; hard work and stewardship are coming to fruition. One memorable summer season gives way for the imminent bounty of fall. The birds, animals and trees are more animated – they too have a heightened sense of urgency for the harvest. Everything intensifies – the colors, the multitudinous gathering of the migrating birds. The approaching winter season plays out in the narrative of all that lives – it’s the mating season for many, including whitetail deer. It’s time to stockpile without delay for a variety of animals from beavers to field mice, and yes, for men. And inside the spirit of man, whether you be a nature lover or outdoorsman and hunter . . . fall quickens.
Let’s go and see. There is nothing like floating in a small boat and watching the gathering of countless migrating ducks. You see the flock of bluebills dropping out of the Northern sky, wings cupped, heading for your decoys. Your hunting dog sees them too and his gaze becomes fixed on the approaching birds. He does a side-glance at you to make certain you see them as well. You nod to your dog and he once again locks onto the ducks. The bluebills make a precautionary fly-by, ripping the air as their wings slice into your consciousness . . . a forty mile per hour blur just inches above your decoys. Your dog is shaking. You whisper one word, “Steady”. After three more passes, the leader of the flock decides it is safe. They commit and come in. Three quick shots and your dog goes to work. He flies (did you know dogs could fly?) out of the duck-boat, landing ten feet away in a spray of icy water. He spots the downed bluebills and swims without delay. He picks up the first, then the second and returns to the side of the boat. He delivers them to your hand, then immediately goes for the third duck, which is swimming away from the decoys. He catches up to the bluebill but it dives underwater, out of reach. This is repeated with a marathon chase three times. Finally, the dog closes in and when the duck dives under, he does to, disappearing for nearly a minute. The water explodes as the duck and the dog rocket out of the frigid water . . . duck firmly lodged in your retriever’s mouth. He makes his way back to your boat, making you proud. You pull him aboard as he bountifully shares the 40 degree water. “Good boy.”
Shooting ducks is bittersweet. You study them, in the bottom of your boat, and you consider that they are perfect in form and color. When they arrived this day they became an aerial display more like a song than a flight. They rose and fell in concert, holding their relative position as a member of their flock. You could feel their movement, just as the roll of the waves underfoot and the tapping of the reeds on your shoulder. I wonder if all this is recorded in the book of life . . . only the Creator knows. The spent shotgun shells bob in the waves, rising and falling, tapping out a cadence on the wooden hull of your boat. The entire experience becomes riveting. The concentration exhibited by your dog as the bluebills approached was perfect. No creature on earth, man or beast, could best the intensity of your dog. October, you, your retriever and the hunt move into the perfect flow.
Fall energy tips: Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees during the day or when you are home, and at night or when you are away, turn it down to 65 degrees or less. Change the furnace filter at least once per month, and if you have not had your furnace cleaned and tuned for two years, do so. These simple measures can save you up to twenty-five percent on your yearly heating bill. Also, use ceiling fans to blow the heat down from the ceiling (heat rises) and you will mix the hot air better, requiring less heat to stay comfortable. Check out all of the energy saving programs and initiatives at Tri-CAP. If you are income eligible, there may be good news for you. Check us out and get in tune and in the flow of the season.

Tri-CAP blog for October

By: Stephen Bjorklund


Lillian’s Song

It’s easy for me to write about fall. In “Moby Dick” Herman Melville wrote that all things in nature carry a greater meaning, the wind, waves, storms and creatures were merely a mask covering a deeper, epic meaning.   In his way of thinking, everything was a pawn in the greater conflict between the forces of good and evil.

That may be true, but I can find little that is sinister in the things of fall. My favorite life experiences live in my memories of autumn. Here’s one I’ll share with you. Lillian Osander was a farm lady who owned the land my Dad and his friends hunted on by North Turtle Lake in Ottertail County. I was in my teens when she was in her 80’s, and I thought of her as a second grandmother. She was kind-hearted to everyone – it was her way of life. Peder Osander, her husband, had been bed-ridden with a stroke and Lillian could never leave him for long. She used to love the outdoors, so I would stop and see her and Peder before I joined my Dad and his friends at our duck hunting cabin.

Sometimes I would ask Lillian if she wanted to go out with me and sit in a duck-boat on Redhead Bay. She always said yes. I would motor over and pick her up on shore behind her farm. We would drift in the tall “pencil grass” and watch the ducks come in and land on the bay. Sometimes, if we were fortunate, we would see the redwing blackbird migration. Hundreds of thousands of the raucous birds would appear in a great flock in the Northern sky of North Turtle Lake. Every bird in the flock was sounding. The flock was an undulating cylinder of souls, taking up to twenty minutes to cross over the lake and then over our heads. Their wings were a roar like water rushing over a falls. Their song was almost deafening. They would all land in the oak and maple trees between us and Lillian’s farm. Every branch, every twig was occupied by a singing redwing. It was a sight and sound like no other – but it was nothing compared to the joy on Lillian Osander’s countenance.

If fall is a mask, it is mine to remember.

September energy tip: Fill your heating fuel tank. Don’t wait for the propane or fuel oil to run out – it could damage your furnace. Also, if you run out, your heating fuel provider may charge you extra for an emergency fill trip.

Tri-CAP September 2018 Blog

By Stephen Bjorklunc

Nordic Saga

Each of us holds dear what is important, however, that thing of great value is not necessarily universal. Let me share a case in point. I visit diverse families in the course of doing my job as a home energy advisor – many are Scandinavian. Recently I met an 86 year old Norwegian who lived on his family’s “Century” farmstead, just outside of the small town of Holdingford. As I sat with my client at the kitchen table, something caught my eye outside of the bay window. There, on a raised mound surrounded by pansies and purple irises, sat a huge fossilized bone. It appeared to be a section of backbone, a vertebrae standing over two feet tall. I asked Lars, “What’s the story behind the fossil?”

His old blue eyes flashed and he responded, “How much time do you have – it’s a bit of a tale?”

“Enough,” said I.

“Before Grandpa Finn took a wife, he lived all alone in a one-room cabin – do you see it – over there next to the milking parlor? Over the years a red fox with a black face started to hang around the cows. He would dart in and lap up the spilled milk. Grandpa tolerated his antics, and as time passed, the fox lost his natural fear. Grandpa and the black fox became friends. If anyone else came to the farm, the fox would vanish like a spirit.

“One fall day Grandpa Finn took a hike down to the north 40 woods. He saw his black fox sitting next to a hole in the ground. He approached and the fox disappeared. After a closer look-see, Grandpa discovered that the fox had found the entrance to a here-to-fore undiscovered cave. Grandpa went back to the log cabin and retrieved a kerosene lantern, and returned.

“He squeezed through the narrow opening, slid down a smooth rock ledge and found himself standing in a cavern. It was bigger than his one room cabin. The black fox appeared by his side, peering up at Grandpa Finn. Then the fox walked to the far end of the chamber, to a smaller passageway. Grandpa Finn followed. The fox stopped and pawed at the cave floor, partially unearthing a white object. It appeared to be a large bone embedded in the limestone. Grandpa Finn’s curiosity was peaked. Over the next months, in all of his spare time, he worked at carefully extracting his find from the limestone. Finally one spring day he lifted the massive object from its limestone crypt. It was a sight to behold. He hefted it up – as heavy as a hundred weight milking can, and carried it to the center of the main cavern. He set it down on a wool blanket and walked around his prize with the kerosene lantern. His gaze fell upon a mystifying sight. In one of the clefts of the fossilized vertebrae lodged a perfectly formed stone spear point, half embedded into the bone. This unknown creature had been felled by an ancient hunter –by a man with a spear!”

“Have you ever had the fossil identified or dated?’ I blurted out.

“No.” said Lars. “Grandpa Finn was a private sort, and he didn’t want any of the neighbors to know about the cave or the fossil. His business was his business. His cave was his cave, and he especially didn’t want anyone poking around the farm or endangering his black fox.”

“Do you mind if we go out and get a closer look at the fossil?”

“Sure, why not. Let’s go and see.”

We walked around the great white mystery, stopping to examine the stone spear-point.

“Do you realize what this is?” I asked.

“Grandpa Finn had some ideas.”

“It is a segment of the back-bone of a dinosaur. It’s far too large to be from a wooly mammoth. That means that it may be many millions of years old. It could be priceless. And the fact that a man – an ancient hunter killed it may change history as we know it. Don’t you think that you should find a safer place to store it, at least until you have an expert identify it? This could be the greatest find in modern history.”

“Who wants an old bone in the parlor? And another thing, it’s part of Grandpa Finn’s life – that is all the history that matters to me.”

“But think of what the relic could be worth to your family.”

“Well, Grandpa Finn always had enough. The farm provided for all of his needs, and in time, our needs. All the extra money in the world, or notoriety, wouldn’t improve our life here on the farm. You see, what was important to Grandpa Finn was that thing that he treasured.”

And with that, I departed. I tried to imagine the mind of Grandpa Finn, and the worth of that black fox.

August energy tips: The monster in your basement – Radon gas. What is radon? It is an odorless, colorless gas that seeps up through the soil. It usually appears in your basement. Radon gas is formed from the natural decay of Uranium in the soil. In Minnesota, radon levels vary county by county.

How can radon hurt you? Long term exposure can damage the cells that line the lung and may even cause lung cancer. In Minnesota, 2 out of 5 homes have high radon levels. In our area, two out of four counties are subject to excessive radon. Stearns and Sherburne Counties are high; Morrison and Benton County not so bad.

How do you know if you have a problem? Test your house with an inexpensive test kit that you can place for three to seven days in the lowest living area. You can order the kit on-line at:

If you send the test in, they will send you back the results. The magic number is 4. If higher than 4.0 (pCi/L), consider installing radon mitigation.

Radon mitigation: This usually entails installing a sump-type basket or collection pipe holes in the basement (to create collection pockets under the concrete slab).  A Radon gas exhaust pipe is installed (has to be vented out through the roof, fan assisted). Every gap and crack in the basement, including exhaust pipe surrounds, must be sealed. Cost: from $1200 to $1,700, depending on the building characteristics. Hire a state licensed radon mitigation contractor to get the job done right.

Tri-CAP August 2018 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund


The Long and Short of IT

How long do things live? Here’s the list.

  • Bristlecone pine tree – 5060 years.
  • Giant tortoise – 255 years.
  • Asian elephant – 86 years.
  • Blue Macaw – 119 years.
  • Horse – 62 years.
  • Dog – 29 years.
  • Cat – 38 years.
  • Black bear – 30 years.
  • Whitetail deer – 4.5 (wild); 25 years (captive).
  • Greenland shark – 512 years.
  • Bowhead whale – 200 years.
  • Lobsters – 140 years.
  • Pheasant – 27 years.
  • Grouse – 11 years.
  • Cottontail rabbit – 3 years.
  • Canada goose – 28 years.
  • Mallard duck – 27 years.
  • Bald eagle – 20 -38 years.
  • Robins – 13 years.
  • Humans – 79-100+

Let’s talk people. How do most of us end?

  1. Heart disease.
  2. Cancer.
  3. Stroke.
  4. Lung disease.
  5. Accidents.
  6. Diabetes.
  7. Flu & pneumonia.
  8. Alzheimer’s.

Where do people live the longest, and why? (90, 100, or more). SARDINIA, ITALY – They largely have a plant diet and typically walk five miles per day. OKINAWA, JAPAN – They have a strong social circle that lasts for a lifetime. NICOYA, COSTA RICA – People love the outdoors; eat a natural diet with no processed food, and they devise their own plan for life. LOMA LINDA, CALIFORNIA – This is a strong religious community with strict adherence to a day of rest on the Sabbath. IKARIA, GREECE – The people have a natural diet, socialize late into the evening, and take frequent naps during the day.

How does Minnesota fair? Men – 79 plus. Women – 81 plus.

Have you ever heard any of these from your parents: eat right, work hard, exercise, go to church, and take good care of your family? Looks like they were right again.

July energy tips: Close your window shades during the day and open them in the cool of the evening. Use a fan instead of your air-conditioner, or run the fan on your furnace. Install awnings over your big windows, especially to the South. Dry your clothes on an old-fashioned clothes line. Water your lawn early or late in the day, and let the lawn grow longer (takes less water). Freeze bags of water, place a frozen bag in a dish in front of a fan and point it at yourself. (The frugal man’s air conditioner). Call Tri-CAP if we can be of assistance through our many programs (for qualified families), and have a good, safe summer. More of Dad’s wisdom – a day of fishing adds two days to your life.

Tri-CAP July 2018 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund