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Political notebook

Scholarships for Indian students

More American Indian college students may receive scholarships under a new Minnesota budget that began this month.

Commissioner Larry Pogemiller of the state Office of Higher Education said the budget contains an additional $1.25 million for each of the next two years for the Minnesota Indian Scholarship Program.

"For the past several years, eligible students have been put on a waiting list for this scholarship because funding has not kept up with need," Pogemiller said. "We expect this additional investment to significantly reduce the current waiting list."

Pogemiller said applicants should apply soon. Information and an application are at

To qualify, a Minnesota resident must be at least a quarter Indian; enroll in an accredited Minnesota college, university or vocational school; and qualify for either a Pell or state grant.

New highway messages

Minnesota drivers Monday began to see a different type of message on electronic interstate signs that normally warn about crashes, closed lanes and the like.

State transportation and public safety officials say they now also will use some of the 150 message boards to encourage safe driving with messages such as those designed to promote seat belt use, sober driving and keeping within the speed limit. Monday's messages dealt with speeding as the Minnesota State Patrol engages in an anti-speeding campaign.

"Using these high-profile signs to highlight key facts about traffic safety issues can help motorists put into perspective that the poor choices they make behind the wheel lead to serious consequences," State Traffic Engineer Sue Groth said.

State officials said messages warning drivers about road issues will take precedence over the new messages.

Heat leads to algae issues

Microscopic algae plants in Minnesota waters are being turned into harmful algal blooms, the Pollution Control Agency says.

They could harm pets, livestock and humans.

"High rainfall, which has been common throughout much of Minnesota this spring, results in nutrient-rich runoff entering our lakes, fueling algae growth," PCA lakes expert Steve Heiskary said. "While spring and early summer temperatures were cooler than normal, lake temperatures have warmed rapidly. Given these conditions, we are likely to see blue-green algae blooms on many of our lakes."

While most algae are harmless, the agency warns that some types can pose health risks. People or animals may become sick if they touch or ingest affected water. There have been reports of dogs and other animals dying after exposure to lake water containing toxic blue-green algae.

The biggest danger is in warm, shallow, nutrient-rich lakes, but the PCA says the dangerous algae could be anywhere in the state.

"You don't have to be an expert to recognize an algae bloom that might be harmful," Heiskary said. "If it looks bad and smells bad, don't take a chance. Stay out and keep children and pets away from the water until the bloom subsides."

Mobile travel info

Minnesotans using smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices have a new way to get travel information.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has launched apps for Android and Apple smart phones and tablets to go along with its Website.

The apps include information about construction, maintenance, crashes and other road situations.

"A mobile 511 app is an important tool that the growing number of people who use smart phones can use to determine the best route to arrive at their destination on time," MnDOT's Brian Kary said.

- compiled by Don Davis, Forum News Service