Saturday, January 31, 2015

What is a QR Code?

Do you ever wonder what a QR Code is? Do you know what one looks like? (see below) QR Code stands for "Quick Response Code", and it's a two dimensional bar code first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. It's machine readable, and it consists of black and white squares. Today, those squares contain URL's (website addresses), and if you have a QR Code reader on your smartphone, all you have to do is point your camera in the direction of those black and white squares, and just like magic, you will be transported to the website associated with those weird looking squares. QR Code readers are free to download, and there are bunch of them out there, so pick one that has a lot of good reviews and give it a try. You can start by looking at this one first:

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hey Alexandria! Good Luck Tomorrow!

Don't forget about the big ice fishing tournament in Alexandria tomorrow. Click on the picture for more information!!!

Worst Passwords of 2014

The worst passwords of 2014 are just as awful as you can imagine. The ever-present "123456" takes the top spot, but it has some equally terrible company on the annual list of worst passwords people are still using. In a recent CNET, Tech Culture article written by Amanda Kooser, she begins like this: 

“Please sit down. We need to have a talk. It seems some important points about computer safety and security have completely gone over the heads of a certain portion of the population. If you're one of those people whose passwords look like "9$RxkU#55zx!%winning1," you can go ahead and leave. If your password looks like "1234567890" or "qwerty," it's time to repent and change your ways.”

To read the entire article, and to see if your password is on the list, click HERE. Everyone at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty wants our clients online information to be safe, so take time to review your passwords, and make changes where necessary.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Minnesota DNR Delays Mandatory Invasive Species Training for Boaters

In a Star Tribune article written by DOUG SMITH early this morning, he reported that the Minnesota DNR’s effort to fight invasive species through education was postponed over faulty legislation. Less than two weeks ago, RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty, through this BLOG, reported that the training program requiring everyone that literally might touch something that would go in one of our great Minnesota lakes or rivers, would start at the end of this month. As Lee Corso would say, "not so fast my friend". To read the entire article, click HERE.
Photo by Anthony Souffle, special to the Star Tribune

Contributed by Matt Werneke a Real Estate professional at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Crosslake. Call our office at 218-692-9938 and talk to Matt about your Real Estate needs. You may also visit Matt's website at for more information…and, Matt wants you to know: “I am never too busy for your referrals”.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Staging a Home on a Budget

At RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty, we are always looking for helpful information that we can pass on to our clients. We recently ran across this blog article written by RIS Media's, Nick Caruso. The article, entitled "The Five Golden Rules of Home Staging on a Budget" is a good read. If you have a home on the market, or you're thinking of listing, you should read the article by clicking HERE, and then discuss it with your RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty agent.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Super Bowl Party Foods of All Time

A year ago, Timothy Rapp, a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, wrote an article regarding the top ten Super Bowl foods. For the most part, I agree with his list, and for those of you that know me, know that I know food like Bo knows whatever it is he knows these days. So without further adieu, I'm going to combine Tim's list with mine, and in no particular order, don't let your party be without these tasty morsels:

  1. Chips and Dip: the classic standby, but don't forget there is more to the dip than meets the eye.
  2. Healthy Finger Foods: yep...veggies - and some other stuff as well.
  3. Meat & Cheese Tray: get some nice hard salami, or other spicy summer sausage and pair it with some cheese that people don't eat on a regular basis, like Gouda, Provolone or any smoked cheese.
  4. Pigs in a Blanket: for bonus points, wrap a piece of bacon around the whole pig in a blanket and brush it with some soy sauce.
  5. Chicken Wings: a variety would be nice.
  6. 10 Layer Dip: I like mine with Guacamole.
  7. Hoagie: make a 3 footer with sour dough and slice it up. Put some brown mustard, chipotle mayo and Sriracha in some squeezable condiment bottles and let people spice it up the way they want. (Don't forget to put some good peppers out as well)
  8. Pulled Pork: even though it's winter in Minnesota, take some time the day before the party and put a brisket on the know you want to.
  9. Chili: some don't like it hot, so put some chili powder and peppers out with this hearty soup as well.
  10. Beer: this has to fall within a food group somewhere, and if you make your own, that would be even better.
These are just 10 suggestions of many Super Bowl foods that will grace our party tables this coming Sunday. Here's a tip: get up and grab some of the chow while the game is going on, and be in your seats for the commercials. People will be talking about those more than the game the next day anyway, so you'll want to be able to hold an intelligent conversation with the first person who brings up the ad that choked them up the most. From all of us at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty, have a safe and happy Super Bowl holiday.

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza Results

20,000  holes in the ice were needed to accommodate all of the ice fishing men and women who descended on Hole in the Day Bay on Gull Lake, to fish in the 25th annual Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza. One of those holes produced a 6.73 pound Northern Pike within the last 15 minutes of the contest, for Steven Darrell from Owatonna, Minnesota. His big fish earned him first place and he walked away with the grand prize; a 2015 GMC pickup truck! It's the first fish Steve has caught in the 10 plus years he's been fishing in the contest, so he was due. RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty would like to congratulate Steve and give a BIG thank you to the Brainerd Jaycees for putting on such a great event for our area every year. As an organization, your dedication and commitment to helping your fellow mankind does not go unnoticed. For a list of the official results, click HERE, and good luck to everyone next year!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt Says: "The Internet Will Disappear"

What? Huh? Remember what I wrote yesterday? Well, this is one of those whoppers I mentioned!

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Google guru Eric Schmidt gave an answer regarding the evolution of the web. “I will answer very simply that the internet will disappear,” Schmidt said on Thursday.
“There will be so many IP addresses, … so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it, it will be part of your presence all the time,” he explained“Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”
“A highly personalized, highly interactive and very, very interesting world emerges,” Schmidt concluded.
At the panel, dubbed “The Future of the Digital Economy”, he was speaking with Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Vodafone’s Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao agreed with Schmidt, comparing the internet with“water, oxygen” in an “ultra-dense connectivity situation.”
All I can say is...

Friday, January 23, 2015

SEO for Dummies (me)

Being the Marketing Director for RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty is a great job. I do it because I enjoy it, and I do it because it's very challenging keeping up with things like SEO. SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, and if you stacked that acronym up against all of the other acronyms in the history of mankind, SEO would be an infant still crying for it's mother. Come to think of it, in a weird sort of way, SEO is an infant that throws a fit everytime you don't do what it wants. And as with all infants, when you're an adult, you have no idea what that crying bundle of joy wants most of the time. For instance, as you can tell by the name of our company, we are a real estate agency, with real estate agents, selling real estate in Nisswa, Alexandria, Longville, and Crosslake, Minnesota, MN, or Min. I put different ways of abbreviating Minnesota in here to illustrate a point. If you were to search for a real estate agency in any of the aforementioned towns, and you spelled out Minnesota, or used MN, or used Min (yes some people still do), or didn't use any state or abbreviation at all, you are going to get different results than the person sitting next to you, if they did it one way or the other. Should they? I don't think so, but they will. You will also find you get different search results using Chrome, or Internet Explorer, or whatever your favorite search engine is. Should you? I don't think so, but you will. You may also find that a blog post will show up, or a company's web page, or Google + page, or Facebook post, or a Tweet, or a pin on Pinterest, a video on YouTube, or...I think you get the picture. You never know what you're going to get, but hopefully you'll find something you're looking for that will lead you to, in this case, RE/MAX Lake Area Realty. You may also find in your searches one day, that what you're looking for is riding high on the first page, and the next day it's buried beneath the fold on page two somewhere. Should it be like that? I don't think so, but it happens.

The main player, the big dog in this game is Google...hands down. I recently read an article ( that said Google is making 500 to 600 algorithm changes a year! To back up just a bit, blog stands for web log...or as one person put it, Better Listings on Google. Now, most of those 500 to 600 algorithm changes don't affect you and I very much, but some of them are major whoppers, and those are the ones you (I) need to keep abreast of. How? Good question. The nice (and they really are nice) people at Google tell me to keep trying new things, and change it up every now and then, by throwing stuff up on SEO's wall and see if it sticks. You do that by throwing in different keywords, placing different pages and links on your website, Google + pages and everything else you can think of, and then searching in every way you can possibly think someone may search seeing if the stuff you threw on the wall made a difference in where you rank. Sometimes you hit a homerun, and sometimes you strike out. But...and this is the most important thing I've learned so have to keep coming to the plate and take your swings. If you don't, you'll fade away just like any player that refuses to adapt to the curve balls that are thrown your way every day in this business.

Posted by Brad Wallace, Marketing Director for RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty. If you've experienced some odd curve ball examples in this game called SEO, post a comment here on this blog page and let me know how you deal with it. I'll in turn share it for the world to see.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

National Association of Realtors 2015 Housing Market Forecast

Recently, the National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun takes a look at the year ahead, discussing the outlook for housing and the economy in 2015. To watch the interview, click on the YouTube video above. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Syndication; A Powerful, Proven, Listing Tool

Have you ever heard of "syndication"? Most of you would probably associate syndication with television. If a show is syndicated, it usually means one of three things; it's either a show like "Seinfeld" that went off the air in 1998 but can still be seen today, or one like "CSI" on CBS that is still on the air but you can watch earlier episodes on cable, or a show like "Ellen" that isn't a network show but rather a show that can be seen on different TV stations in different cities around the United States. If a show is syndicated, it means the show is very successful and has run for a long time.

But did you know syndication is also very important in the real estate business? And, did you know some companies use syndication and some don't? RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty, syndicates all of our listings. So, what does that mean to you? Well, it means that your property, at the very least, will be listed on the top 50 real estate websites in the world. This is important, because in December of last year, 45% of all real estate searches began on one of FIVE websites. If you list with a company that does NOT syndicate, (there are some big and small companies out there that don't) you are missing out on a lot of potential buyers. Take a look at the chart below, and demand visibility. Choose wisely...choose RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Frozen Septic Systems May Become the Norm in the Lakes Area

In today's publication of the Brainerd Dispatch, Renee Richardson, senior reporter, wrote an article regarding the latest information about the problems lakes area residents are having with their septic systems. We wrote about this in a Lakes Area Latest blog article several days ago, but we feel it's important to update you on the latest, so we have re-posted an edited/paraphrased article from the Brainerd Dispatch today. You can find the full article online HERE, or in the printed version of today's paper.

Without a snow blanket, calls of frozen septic systems are beginning to multiply after January's cold snap. A local septic tank service owner/operator, told the Brainerd Dispatch, that a trickle of phone calls is turning into a flood of calls. Those who have area homes they only visit on the weekend may want to stay at their full-time home and local residents should run more warm or hot water to stave off problems.

The warmer than normal December followed by a colder than average January is at issue here. The combination melted what little snow we had that was insulating the ground then the cold had enough punch to push frost levels down to shallow pipes. Most of the pipes in question are only 3 feet below the surface. Last year, the issue was such a prolonged cold snap, that the frost was 8 feet deep and capable of freezing city pipes. Many residents ran a pencil-thin stream of water for weeks on end to help keep pipes from freezing. This year, the freeze threat is confronting year round rural residents and weekenders as well.

The last time the lakes area had a rash of frozen septic systems came in other snow-drought years during 2003 and 2005. This year, local residents should be running warm and hot water more frequently. Some options include running the dishwasher more, taking longer hot showers or at least using warm water for clothes washing. The warm December followed by rain and a cold January was about the worst thing that could happen in terms of septic systems; and it came after it appeared a normal snow depth for winter was on target, meaning that some people who may have put down insulating straw or septic blankets may not have done so.

Right now, it sounds like if we get more snow, then we may be OK. If it doesn't snow, the septic systems that haven't frozen may freeze, and that isn't good. In RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty country, we have four seasons, and right now winter is not cooperating. Without snow, snowmobilers can't ride, skiers can't ski, sledders can't sled, and local businesses that depend on snow, aren't doing very well. So...believe it or not, we need it to snow; the more the better. So c'mon old man winter...get in the game!

Renee Richardson may be reached at 855-5852 or at

Monday, January 19, 2015

Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza!

The 25th annual Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza is this coming Saturday, January 24th, on "Hole in the Day Bay" on Gull Lake. Bill Rickmeyer, one of our real estate agents at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Nisswa, was President of the Brainerd Jaycees in 1991 when members suggested the contest. 

Bill writes, "It was to be a: ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLAR EXTRAVAGANZA! The big focus by the members, was on a One Hundred Thousand Dollar Contest! Personally, I thought they were crazy", Bill says, "because it seemed like a lot of money, and we didn't have much. Chris, one of the 'Idea Men' behind the contest, mortgaged his house to make the contest happen. There were many, many people who have contributed to the contest over the years, but if it were not for Chris it may have never happened." 

Bill wraps up by saying, "I had the opportunity to Chair the Contest in 1995.  Planning for an event like this takes all year. My motto has always been, a body in motion tends to stay in motion! So far this event has been able to generate a lot of money for LOCAL CHARITIES."

For more information regarding this years contest, click HERE.

History of the Ice Fishing Extravaganza:

In the early 1990s the Brainerd Jaycees had a desire to develop a signature project—a project that would rally members, raise money for local charities, and provide avenues for individual growth, personal development, and leadership. With the first contest being held in January 1991, it is certain the founders never expected this event would become the world’s largest ice fishing contest and put Brainerd, MN, on the map with a winter event that generates over $1-million in revenue for area businesses and over $150,000 for area charities annually.
Contributed by Bill Rickmeyer a Real Estate professional at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Nisswa, Minnesota. Call our office at 218-963-9554 and talk to Bill about your Real Estate needs. You may also visit Bill's website at or email Bill at for more information.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

New Minnesota Sprinkler Law Dismays Developers, Delights Firefighters - Part Duex

This is a reprint from an article written by SUSAN FEYDER, at the Star Tribune. We have presented this in two parts, but if you'd like to read the whole article now, click HERE. You can read part one from our post yesterday.

A state mandate requiring indoor sprinklers in new homes 4,500 square feet and larger goes into effect in January. Homebuilders are grumbling about the new rule, calling it costly and unnecessary. But fire officials welcome it as a measure of relief at a time when they are struggling to recruit and retain volunteers.

Help for firefighters

Fire officials differ on builders’ cost estimates for sprinklers and point out that over time homeowners can recoup the upfront expense through lower insurance premiums. They also say that while smoke alarms can alert homeowners, they don’t protect houses or belongings until firefighters arrive.

“There’s nothing worse than standing in the yard with an owner as they watch firefighters try to put a fire out that’s already fully involved — shooting out windows and doors — by the time we get there,” said Marilyn Arnlund, deputy fire marshal in Maple Grove.

Arnlund and other fire officials say modern homes are susceptible to fires that can spread quickly, mostly because of their lightweight wood ceiling trusses and floor joists. Open floor plans and petroleum-based construction materials and furnishings found in newer homes also contribute to fires that can burn hot and fast.

This summer, Chaska Fire Chief Tim Wiebe led city and state officials on a tour of a large house that was ravaged by a fire in late May. The occupants escaped unharmed, but the house was a total loss. The fire started in the attached garage and spread to the house, where it had a burst of combustion known as flashover.

“The furnishings, the kitchen cabinets, just vaporized,” Wiebe said. “We were very fortunate that nobody, including our firefighters, was in there.”

He said he’d like to see sprinklers in all homes because they provide a way to extinguish fires or keep them small. That’s important as departments like his cover a growing number of households even as it becomes more difficult to recruit and retain replacements for the stream of baby boomers now retiring.

Chaska’s fire department is supposed to have a staff of 44 but currently has a volunteer force of 35, Wiebe said. None of Maple Grove’s five stations is fully staffed, according to Arnlund.

In Eagan, where fire department staffing is at its lowest level since the late 1980s, the city is considering a plan to go from five stations — which it says it cannot fully staff — down to three. For now, it is bridging part of the gap in its volunteer force with a federal grant to fund some full-time, paid positions.

The Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View fire department also has used a federal grant to add a recruitment and retention coordinator. “We’re not understaffed now, but we can see we’re going to have turnover and want to get ahead of the curve,” said Maddison Zikmund, who has filled the position.

Zikmund said that even when there are enough volunteers, they’re not always in parts of town where they’re needed. “A lot of the people we get don’t live close enough to our stations,” he said.

As result, some cities are switching to duty crews, where volunteer firefighters are scheduled instead of being paid-on-call. Some communities are adding full-time paid positions. Both of those staffing models cost more.

Chaska City Administrator Matt Podhrasky believes the staffing challenges are part of larger change. “It used to be that volunteers would sign on and stay for 20 years, but we’re a lot more mobile now,” he said. “We just have to plan around it.”
Photo Courtesy of Star Tribune
Contributed by Matt Werneke a Real Estate professional at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Crosslake. Call our office at 218-692-9938 and talk to Matt about your Real Estate needs. You may also visit Matt's website at for more information…and, Matt wants you to know: “I am never too busy for your referrals”.

Friday, January 16, 2015

New Minnesota Sprinkler Law Dismays Developers, Delights Firefighters - Part One

This is a reprint from an article written by SUSAN FEYDER, at the Star Tribune. We're going to present this in two parts, but if you'd like to read the whole article now, click HERE. You can read part two tomorrow.

A state mandate requiring indoor sprinklers in new homes 4,500 square feet and larger goes into effect in January. Homebuilders are grumbling about the new rule, calling it costly and unnecessary. But fire officials welcome it as a measure of relief at a time when they are struggling to recruit and retain volunteers.

The 4,500-square-foot measurement includes a basement, even it’s unfinished, so the rule will apply to many new homes sprouting in outer-ring suburbs or replacing teardowns in Edina, southwest Minneapolis and St. Paul’s Highland Park. About 30 percent of the new houses in the metro area meet or exceed that size threshold, according to the Builders Association of the Twin Cities.

Mark McNeill, Shakopee’s city administrator, sees the new rule as “a mixed bag.” He said he understands sprinklers’ safety value but worries that their added expense could make it harder for families with starter homes to move up to bigger new ones whose values can bolster a community’s tax base.

The job of making sure new homes meet the requirement will fall to city fire marshals or building inspectors. “We’ll obviously have to keep track of which houses require this when building plans are submitted for a permit,” said Dwight Picha, Woodbury community development director. But Picha said that the new requirement merely extends what city employees already do for large townhouses, where indoor sprinklers have been required for several years.

Homebuilders are dismayed. “That additional square footage is going to be really expensive for home buyers,” said Shawn Nelson, president of the builders’ group and owner of a Burnsville building and remodeling firm. Sprinklers could add at least $9,000 to the price of a four-bedroom, three-bath home and as much as $20,000 in houses with private wells instead of city water systems, the organization says.

Builders also believe sprinklers are unnecessary, since new houses already must have hard-wired smoke alarms. Nelson said builders are concerned that the added expense could snuff out demand for large new homes, which has fueled much of the post recession rebound in the homebuilding market.

“Let’s not force it,” said Mike Devoe, president of Ryland Homes. Devoe said he has no problem offering sprinklers as an option but doesn’t believe they should be mandatory.

Devoe and other builders say they don’t believe most buyers are interested in sprinklers.

Curt Christensen, owner of Lee Lyn Construction in Watertown, said that in 35 years of building homes, he’s only had one buyer ask for sprinklers. “And that’s because he worked for a sprinkler company,” he said. Christensen said most buyers are unaware of the coming change, but he has spoken with some clients who've asked if floor plans can be trimmed under the 4,500-square-foot limit. 
Photo Courtesy of Star Tribune
Contributed by Matt Werneke a Real Estate professional at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Crosslake. Call our office at 218-692-9938 and talk to Matt about your Real Estate needs. You may also visit Matt's website at for more information…and, Matt wants you to know: “I am never too busy for your referrals”.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Crow Wing County Seeks Public Comment on Aquatic Invasive Species Plan

The Crow Wing County land services department is requesting public comment on the proposed 2015 Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Plan. The AIS plan can be viewed by clicking HERE. Written comments on the plan will be accepted until January 23rd and may be submitted to Mitch Brinks, Crow Wing County water protection specialist, at The County Board will review the AIS plan at its regularly scheduled meeting on February 10th, at 9:00 AM. The meeting will be held in the county board room on the third floor of the Crow Wing County courthouse on Laurel Street in Brainerd. Crow Wing County has been allocated $450,000 by the State Legislature to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species within the county during 2015.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Look North for Lots to Do

Longville, Minnesota, has a long rich history of providing year round fun. (or is it year 'around'...I never know if correct english it is) Anyway, back to Longville. You would think the town is HUGE, because there is something going on all the time! When my wife was a wee child growing up in Indiana, she spent many a summer on the shores of Boy Lake. She dreamed of one day owning a home in the twin cities, and a cabin in Longville. Well, she ended up owning a home near Longville, and skipping the twin cities part.

There is a real estate agent by the name of Sean McDonald, and he works in the Longville office of RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty. Sean, along with all of the agents and staff, are proud of their town; rightfully so, and Sean would like you to know about all of the upcoming events throughout the entire year of 2015. Isn't that nice of him? I think it is. Sean has provided you a printable schedule of the upcoming events for the ENTIRE YEAR by clicking HERE. There is also a very active Chamber of Commerce in Longville, so if you would like to read their January Newsletter, click HERE. If you'd like to join in on the fun and you haven't figured out how to contact Sean yet by clicking on the blue hyperlink thingies associated with his name, click HERE to get in touch with him.

Have fun in Longville everyone!

Monday, January 12, 2015

RE/MAX Balloon Fly's at Breezy Point Ice Fest

Here is a little picture blog of the balloon flight at Breezy Point Resort during Breezy Point Ice Fest this past Saturday, January 10th:
The RE/MAX balloon flew for about 45 minutes while tethered on Saturday, and about 25 to 30 people braved the cold and took a ride. We all wish the balloon could have flown longer, but because of the wind picking up, pilot Steve decided it was to windy to risk flying any longer. Safety comes first when flying, and we're so grateful to Steve for keeping everyone safe. Your next opportunity to fly will be on Saturday, February 7th, at the Longville Ice Bocce Tournament. Check back here, or better  yet, subscribe to our blog for up to date information.

A BIG RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty thank you goes out to Jill Macnamara, Mark Wessels, Mark Peitig, Colleen Murray, Linda Jones, Mark Eggerich, and Mercedes Wessels for braving the cold and helping pilot Steve this past weekend!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

NEW! Firearms Safety Certification for Adults (18 and older)

  • DNR Firearms Safety Certification is required of anyone born after December 31, 1979 to purchase a hunting license in Minnesota. Check requirements in other states  
  • Must successfully complete one of the Options of certification. (see below)
Receive your Firearms Safety Certification or Apprentice Validation by completing one of the following options:
  1. Online course - complete the online course and virtual field day* (MN Residents Only)
  2. Independent study guide and workbook  - available from a volunteer instructor.
  3. Firearms Safety Classroom Course - currently scheduled classes 
  4. Apprentice Hunter Validation  (twice in a lifetime)
General Information
  • The MN DNR Firearms Safety Hunter Education endorsement can be listed on the back of a Minnesota driver's license or identification card upon request. The MN DNR # on your license is also your Hunter Education Identifier and is sufficient proof of course completion.
  • Duplicate firearms certificates are available through any DNR License Agent or by calling toll free 1-888-646-6367 or local 651-296-6157.
Find (and sort) more courses on the DNR Safety Training Calendar 

Contributed by Jason Pinski, a real estate professional at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Longville, MN. Give Jason a call in our Longville office at 218-363-3332, or email him at and let him know how he can help you with your real estate needs.

Friday, January 9, 2015

If You Trailer a Boat, You MUST Read This!

If you trailer a boat or water-related equipment like docks and lifts in Minnesota, you must take AIS training and get a trailer decal. Beginning in 2015 a new trailer decal requirement is scheduled to start. The new law requires anyone who transports watercraft or water-related equipment like docks and lifts with a trailer in Minnesota to complete an aquatic invasive species training course. After completing the course, you receive a decal that must be displayed on your trailer. Anyone who transports watercraft or water-related equipment with a trailer in Minnesota needs to complete training and display the decal. This includes out of state visitors. Minnesota law states that anyone transporting watercraft or water-related equipment in Minnesota needs to complete training and display the decal on their trailer. You can register for the class and get a temporary pass that gives you 7 days to complete the training. Even if you are just traveling through the state with a boat, and you don't plan on putting your boat in the water, you still need this decal. Really? Yes, really.

One family member is required to take the training and put decals on your trailers, but all of those driving the trailer are responsible for knowing and following aquatic invasive species laws. Additional family members can take the online course at no cost to ensure sure they know the laws. Every three years you need to complete training and get a new trailer decal.

You will be able to re-take the 10 question test either online or have another paper version sent to you to re-take it until you pass. Once you complete the course you can receive extra decals if you own or use multiple trailers for watercraft or water-related equipment.

Costs of online training and paper home-study course are being determined and will be posted as soon as possible. Checks will be accepted for the hard-copy training. Call 651-351-2000 to order. Payment for the e-learning version will be made by credit card via a secured, encrypted webpage.

You can trailer watercraft or water-related equipment as soon as you finish training. You'll get a temporary completion certificate at the end of the training that you keep with you until your decal arrives in the mail. You can only get the decal mailed to you after completing the training course. It is not available for purchase at DNR or Deputy Registrar offices. The decal must be adhered to the side of the trailer frame tongue near the hitch in a manner that is readily visible and does not interfere with the display of any other trailer registration requirements

The online training takes approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. There are a few optional sections that add a little more time but aren't required to complete the course. For additional information go to:

Leave us a comment and tell us what you think. Is this a good thing, or is it just another way for the DNR to get some more money out of us? We'd like to hear from you!

Contributed by Jason Pinski, a real estate professional at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Longville, MN. Give Jason a call in our Longville office at 218-363-3332, or email him at and let him know how he can help you with your real estate needs.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ride the RE/MAX Hot Air Balloon on Saturday, January 10th!

Hard Water Fun on Pelican Lake! 

Plan on attending the 20th annual Ice Fest in Breezy Point

Friday, January 9
All Day                        Blinkie Buttons available for $5
7 p.m.                           Bonfire (Pelican Lake Bay)
8 p.m.                           Live entertainment at local establishments

Saturday, January 10
All Day                        Blinkie Button Specials & Bonfire on shore of Pelican Lake
                                     Wolf Moon Kennel and Dogsled Rides ($5/person)                                                                                  Traditional Golf Course
                                     Radar Runs ($5 per run) Registration starts at 9 a.m.                                                                        Non sanctioned
                                     Concession Stand
                                     Ice Slide (Shore of Pelican Lake)
8:00 - ?                             RE/MAX Hot Air Balloon Rides (weather permitting)
7:30 to 11 a.m.                 Pancake Breakfast (Pelican Lake Conservation Club;                                                                   1 mile south CR 4)
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.                Pond Hockey 4 on 4 Tournament (Register by January 2)
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.                Vendor Craft Fair (Lakeside Room of the Marina II)
9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.    Kids Fishing Program, Kids Fishing Olympics by
                                         Simply Outdoor Experiences 
1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.      Horse drawn trolley rides by Action Entertainment
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.              Snow Golf (Pelican Lake)
6:15 p.m.                          Presentation of the Colors by                                                                                                                    American Legion Post 49 Pequot Lake (Pelican Lake)
6:25 p.m.                          National Anthem by Brad Wallace
6:30 p.m.                          Fireworks
8 p.m.                               Live entertainment at local establishments

                                       Blinkie Button Specials All Day

Great deals are available for all who wear a button January 9-10! Blinkie Buttons can be bought at Pequot Lakes Welcome Center, Pelican Square, Breezy Point Resort, City of Breezy Point, and Commander Bar!
Blinkie Button Specials at Area Businesses:

Antlers:                                                            $1 off any drink
Breezy Point Resort Dockside                        $1 off Bloody Mary's
Breezy Point Resort Giftshop                         10% off regular priced apparel
Commander Bar                                              $ 1 off breakfast (6:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.)
Commander Bar                                              2 for 1 wings
Commander/JJ's                                              $ 4 Rummpleminz Shots
Dairy Queen Pequot Lakes                             $ 1 off any basket combo                                                                                                         (excluding $5 lunch special)
Ice Fest Snow Golf                                          FREE w/Blinkie Button
Marina II                                                         $1 off any drink
Merritt Jewelers                                              Free watch battery and ring cleaning
Pelican Square                                                15% off liquor and wine (1) Free coffee
Primetime Food & Spirits                               $3 Fireball shots/ $2 domestic taps
Salon Couture                                                 Free 15 minute sessions in U-Harmony                                                                                                     Massage Chair
Subway-Breezy Point                                     Buy (1) six-inch sub, get second of equal or                                                                            lesser value FREE with purchase of drink
Sunset Cinema                                               $1 off a Pop or Popcorn

Wolfmoon Kennel & Dog Sled Rides           50% off dog sled rides- Saturday Only

Reduce Chances of Frozen Septic Systems - Part Three

With colder temperatures upon us and little or no snow cover to insulate septic systems, your system may need some help to keep from freezing. “Place a layer of mulch (8-12 inches) over the pipes, tank and soil treatment system to provide extra insulation. This mulch could be straw, leaves, hay or any other loose material that will not compact and will stay in place.”

These tips on keeping your septic system from freezing, are provided by the Crow Wing County Extension Service. This is the last in a series of three articles on the subject, so if  you missed the first two, be sure to check out Tuesday and Wednesday's articles.

What can you do to prevent your septic system from freezing in the future?

Depending on your system, location, and water use, you may never have a freezing problem. However, there are several steps that you can take if you are concerned about your onsite system freezing. Here are some precautions if you have had a past problem or are concerned about having a future problem. It is not necessary to do all of these, but you may pick and choose based on your situation:
1.   Place a layer of mulch (8-12 inches) over the pipes, tank and soil treatment system to provide extra insulation. This mulch could be straw, leaves, hay or any other loose material that will not compact and stay in place. This is particularly important if you have had a new system installed late in the year and no vegetative cover has been established. If your system is currently frozen ignore this step, as it will delay thawing come spring.
2.   Let the grass in your lawn get a little longer in the late summer/fall over the tank and soil treatment area. This will provide extra insulation and help hold any snow that may fall.
3.   Use water; the warmer the better if you feel the system is starting to freeze. The Onsite Sewage Treatment Program is usually an advocate of water conservation, but if freezing is a concern, increasing low use to a normal water use can help the system. This includes spreading out your laundry schedule to possibly doing one warm/hot load per day, using your dishwasher and maybe even taking a hot bath. DO NOT leave water running all the time, as this will hydraulically overload the system.
4.   If you know you are going to be gone for an extended period, plan accordingly. This could include having someone use sufficient quantities of water in the home regularly or pumping out your tank before leaving. If you live in an area with a high water table, you should only pump out the tank if the tank was designed for high water table conditions. If a tank is left full for several winter months, the sewage will get very cold in shallow tanks and can even freeze. If you then return home before temperatures start to rise, the effluent leaving the tank will be cold. By starting with an empty tank, you can then start fresh with warm effluent. If you use a cabin on a limited basis during the winter months, this may be a good idea as well.
5.   Fix any leaky plumbing fixtures or appliances in your home. This will help prevent freezing problems and help your system work better year round.
6.   If you have appliances that generate very low flows such as high efficiency furnaces, you can put a heat tape in the pipe, and while on vacation have someone come by and run warm water for a while. Alternately, you could install a small condensate pump that holds and discharges 2 gallons per cycle.
7.   Keep all types of vehicles and high traffic people activities off of the system. This is a good rule to follow year round.
8.   Make sure all risers; inspections pipes and manholes have covers on them. Sealing them and adding insulation is a good idea. Insulation may be added during construction particularly if the top of the septic tank is within 2 feet or the surface.
9.   Keep an eye on your system. If any seeping or ponding occurs contact an onsite professional to help determine the cause and remedy.
10. Add more insulation to your system. This could include replacing pipe with insulated pipe, adding Styrofoam over septic tanks or adding more soil cover.

     Contributed by David Ellingson a Real Estate professional at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Nisswa. Call our office at 218-963-9554 and talk to David about your Real Estate needs, or email him at for more information!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Reduce Chances of Frozen Septic Systems - Part Two

With colder temperatures upon us and little or no snow cover to insulate septic systems, your system may need some help to keep from freezing. “Place a layer of mulch (8-12 inches) over the pipes, tank and soil treatment system to provide extra insulation. This mulch could be straw, leaves, hay or any other loose material that will not compact and will stay in place.”

These tips on keeping your septic system from freezing, are provided by the Crow Wing County Extension Service. This is the first of three articles on the subject, so check back here over the next two days for more valuable and timely information.

What Should You Do If Your Onsite System Freezes


If your septic system is frozen, your first step is to call an onsite professional. Unless the cause of freezing is corrected the system will refreeze next winter. If you have a pump and hear water constantly running in a pump tank (a possible indication of a frozen system) shut off your pump and call an onsite professional. This will likely be a pumper or an installer who can help determine the cause of the problem and offer solutions. The University of Minnesota Onsite Program web site is one place to go to locate a professional – Many pumpers and installers have devices called steamers and high-pressure jetters to try to unfreeze system piping. Other methods used to help fix a freezing problem include adding heat tape and tank heaters. Cameras can be sent down the pipes to determine where the freezing is occurring and if repairs are needed. If the soil treatment system is full of ice, or there is evidence of leaking, there is no need to thaw the lines leading to the treatment area, as it cannot accept liquid until the area is thawed in spring.

If it is not feasible to correct the problem or equipment is not available in your area, the only other option is to use the septic tank(s) in the system as a holding tank until the system thaws naturally. You will need to contact a pumper who will empty out the tanks when they are full on a regular basis .This can be very costly, especially with normal volumes of water use (50 to 75 gallons per person per day). Reduce water use by limiting the number of toilet flushes, taking short showers, using the dishwasher at full capacity, limiting running water to get hot or cold and doing laundry at a laundromat. It is smart to find the cause of the freezing problem so that it can be addressed in the spring, preventing future freeze-ups. Then preventative measures can be added to the system such as adding insulation around the tank and pipes or adding additional cover.

There are many misconceptions about how to deal with a frozen onsite system.

  • Do NOT add antifreeze, salt or a septic system additive into the system.
  • Do NOT pump sewage onto the ground surface.
  • Do NOT start a fire over the system to attempt to thaw it out.
  • Do NOT run water continually to try to thaw system.

Contributed by David Ellingson a Real Estate professional at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Nisswa. Call our office at 218-963-9554 and talk to David about your Real Estate needs, or email him at for more information!