Archive for Ivan Raconteur

Dassel council to conduct public hearing

DASSEL, MN – Dassel City Council will conduct a public hearing at 5 p.m. June 29 regarding a nuisance ordinance violation. There will also be an update on a Lake Street storm sewer easement.

Small Business Relief Grants program accepting applications starting June 23

ST. PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has announced that the Minnesota Small Business Relief Grants Program – which was approved by the Minnesota Legislature last week and signed by Governor Tim Walz on Tuesday – will begin accepting applications next week.

This program will provide $10,000 grants to small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees are eligible. Half of the funding will go to businesses in Greater Minnesota and half to businesses in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, as required by law.

Additional requirements include:

$18 million for businesses with six or fewer full-time employees
$10 million for minority business enterprises
$2.5 million for veteran-owned businesses
$2.5 million for women-owned businesses
$2.5 million for operators of indoor retail and food markets with an ethnic cultural emphasis
“Small businesses across our state urgently need this relief,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “DEED applauds the bipartisan action to pass this legislation, and we are grateful to Governor Walz for signing the bill quickly so we could immediately get this grant program up and running.”

The application period will begin on Tuesday, June 23 and close at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 2 to fulfill the 10-day period required by the law. A randomized, computer-generated lottery process will be used to select eligible businesses that will receive awards. All awards will be administered by qualified local and regionally based nonprofit agencies, and the grant funds can be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar business expenses.

To be eligible, businesses must have a permanent physical location in Minnesota and be majority owned by a permanent resident of Minnesota. Businesses must be able to demonstrate hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Additional eligibility requirements and application information can be found online at DEED’s Small Business Relief Grants page.

DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more information about the agency and its services visit the DEED website or follow DEED on Twitter.

Wright County Fair canceled for 2020

WRIGHT COUNTY, MN – The 2020 Wright County Fair has officially been cancelled.

The Fair Board met Monday night (June 1) and came to the decision to cancel the fair due to restrictions that would have needed to be met, including social distancing and sanitizing of rides that made the idea unfeasible.

The vote was unanimous. The fate was sealed when the company that operates the midway said all other fairs it was contracted to do this summer had been cancelled and it wasn’t going to travel to Wright County just to do one fair.

Wright County Commissioner Charlie Borrell said that, despite a strong wish to conduct the fair as scheduled – the 150th celebration – once the Minnesota State Fair was cancelled in late May, everyone “saw the handwriting on the wall.”

DC graduation plans

DASSEL, COKATO, MN – Class of 2020
Graduation Day
Sunday, June 7, 2020 1:00pm-3:30pm
Schedule
On Sunday, June 7, the DCHS virtual graduation will air at 1:00.
Following the virtual ceremony there will be a senior parade through the towns of Dassel and Cokato (see maps). The parade will start at 2:30 from the PAC parking lot and be led by the Fire Trucks from each town. Cars will line up in parking spots in the PAC, starting on the North side of the parking lot, and be released row by row into the parade. Seniors are encouraged to have a family member drive them so they can enjoy the parade.
The parade will end at the end of William Ave. and 5th St. in Dassel. Seniors and their families do not need to return to the high school.

Wright County Board chair, administrator respond to data security issue

BY JOHN HOLLER
Wright County Communications Specialist

BUFFALO, MN – Wright County Board of Commissioners Chair Christine Husom and County Administrator Lee Kelly are responding to a data security issue that occurred in early 2019, which has taken more than a year to investigate.

Jan. 31, 2019, the Wright County Information Technology Department discovered unusual activity in the county’s email system, as an unknown party was able to enter an individual email account in the county’s Office 365 system. The county took immediate steps to shut down the email system and to hire a computer forensics expert to analyze the specifics on what happened. April 22, 2019, the investigation revealed that a phishing email had involved 11 other email accounts.

The investigation searched every email in all the accounts, which was extremely laborious and time-consuming and wasn’t completed until Feb. 28, 2020. Additional analysis was completed in late-March 2020. As part of the investigative process, it was determined that personal, private or confidential information from 12,320 individuals was contained in the emails and document attachments.

“A distinction needs to be made about this process,” Kelly said. “This intrusion was in an employee email account, not the county’s network or databases. As part of the investigation, the computer forensics firm examined whether any of the information was used for the purposes of fraud or identity theft and found no instances of either. However, as a precaution just to be sure, the county is providing free access to all major consumer credit reporting agencies for those whose names were identified to assure that were not the victims of identity theft.”

The information that was potentially involved included names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, driver’s license/ID card numbers, medical/health insurance information financial account information private personnel data and personal information involving minors.

Since the 2019 incident, Wright County has taken preventive measures to enhance the security of its entire system, which Husom said has improved the security of the personal information the county holds and retains.

“There have been several steps that have been taken over the last year to strengthen the security of all of our county systems to help reduce the risk of something like this happening again,” Husom said. “When our IT director position came open, we hired someone with an extensive cybersecurity background with the US Department of Defense. We implemented a system of segregating protected and personal information from within the county’s cyber network. We implemented multi-factor authentication to access accounts. We have required all employees to take part in mandatory cybersecurity training to help identify email threats and to spot phishing emails. We can’t change what happened, but we have gone to great lengths to prevent it from reoccurring.”

As part of the notification process, a call center has been established for individuals to call to see if their names are on the list of those potentially impacted. The number is 833-979-2231 and is open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

While the delay from when the incident took place until now has been more than 15 months, Kelly said it has been a process that was necessary given the time it took to fully complete the investigation and examine every page of every document that was red flagged.

“Unfortunately, this is the world we live in now,” Kelly said. “Many of the people who do these sorts of attacks aren’t out to steal anyone’s private information. Most just want to prove to themselves that they can find a way into a system. The fact that the investigation didn’t find any cases of identity theft over the last year among the names involved in the emails lends to that way of thinking that this wasn’t someone with malicious intent to steal identities and use people’s private information. We regret this happened, obviously, but we have done our due diligence to make sure that our system for protecting information and detecting those who try to get access to it has been strengthened to reduce the potential of a repeat of this type of attack.”

Red Flag Warning issued

WRIGHT, MEEKER COUNTIES, MN – Red Flag Warning issued

Extreme fire conditions today have resulted in the National Weather Service issuing a Red Flag Warning for the following counties:

Anoka, Benton, Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Chippewa, Chisago, Dakota, Douglas, Faribault, Freeborn, Goodhue, Hennepin, Isanti, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Le Sueur, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Nicollet, Pope, Ramsey, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, Stearns, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, Wright, and Yellow Medicine.

A Red Flag Warning means the area is experiencing critical weather conditions that are ideal for wildfire, including strong winds and minimum humidity values. Do not burn while the Red Flag Warning remains in effect and check any burning done recently to ensure the fire is out. Any spark could become a wildfire under Red Flag conditions.

The Red Flag Warning expires at 6 p.m.