How to get help paying your heat bill

Posted by Mitch on February 14, 2018 10:56 AM in Uncategorized

by Ken Chase

POLK COUNTY (WDAZ-TV) — As temperatures drop and heating bills climb, there’s help for people struggling to make ends meet. But people aren’t using it.

“The winter always increases my heating bill,” said Jon Slater, a Grand Forks resident.

Cold weather means more out of pocket for many people.

But help isn’t something everyone knows about, or many people think they qualify for.

“I mean at face value it sounds great” Slater said. “I haven’t seen any of the statistics or anything.”

At Tri-Valley Opportunity Council you can get help paying your heat bill. But only about half the people eligible for that service are signed up.

“They don’t sign up, they have a pride issue where they don’t feel that they need to, or they don’t even know about the program,” said Chris Waechter the energy assistance program coordinator.

Waechter says they still have money available for you to get help heating your home this winter.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will cover as much as 80 percent of your bill.

“Seniors make up right around 40 percent of what we service,” Waechter said. “It can be disturbing to see what people have to make choices on sometimes.”

Waechter says many of them struggle to choose between food or utilities.

A family of four qualifies in Minnesota if their annual income is less than $43,000.

“I think we don’t do enough for old people in general,” Slater said. “I think we need to pay more attention to elder care. And I think it’s a good thing. Anything that pays attention to elder care is a good thing.”

Help to keep you out of the cold and pay your bills.

Click here for more information on how to apply if you live in the western halves of Polk County and Marshall County or Norman County.

Foster Grandparent Program Holds Annual Christmas Party

Posted by Mitch on December 5, 2017 8:37 AM in Uncategorized

The Tri-Valley Foster Grandparent Program held its yearly Christmas Party on Friday December 1, 2017 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Crookston.  The students in grades K-4 from Our Saviors Lutheran Day School started out by entertaining  the group by singing Christmas songs.   Two of our Foster Grandparents who were unable to attend our annual recognition event in October were given their awards at the Christmas Party.  They were Carol Liebl who volunteers at St Michaels in Mahnomen  as well as Delores Lein who volunteers at Challenger Elementary in TRF.   They were both very surprised and happy  to receive the  “World of Difference” award.   The award is engraved with, “With the little things you do every day, your impact spreads far and wide. Your commitment to improving lives inspires and motivates us all… You make a world of difference.”   Bingo was played, prizes won, singing was done and a wonderful brunch of muffins and egg bake was enjoyed by all who attended.

Head Start Success Story – Oscar & Vanessa

Posted by Mitch on October 31, 2017 1:29 PM in Head Start, Migrant Head Start, Tri-Valley Blog

Hello my name is Oscar & Vanessa Rivera,

My family and I were having a bad time after my husband lost his job. I was the only one working while he stayed home with the children and looked for another job. He applied at Seneca and he got the job, we then had to look for child care for our five children. Rosa Lopez asked my mother-in-law if she knew of anyone with children that worked in agriculture and my mother-in-law told her about us. So Rosa told her to have us go to the Head Start center and apply. So my husband went the next day we were approved.

I did not want my children to be watched by people that were not family but we had no other choice. I am glad that I agreed to have my children attend the center. They learned a lot and were prepared for kindergarten. The staff were so attentive with my children I am very grateful for this program. They did not only learn to write their names and ABC’s but they learned good manners and my youngest even learned some sign language. I would recommend this organization to anyone that I know. My children enjoyed their time at the center and we are very pleased and happy that our children were being cared for very well.

My husband worked at Seneca for four years and four out of five of my children came to the center. My children attended the Glencoe and Hutchinson Centers all those years. I am also an employee of Tri-Valley and have been a health assistant for five years and I have enjoyed my time here. I am grateful to Tri-Valley for not only the job opportunity but for taking such great care of the children.



Oscar & Vanessa Rivera

Agassiz Townhomes Project Groundbreaking Ceremony Held in Crookston

Posted by Mitch on October 26, 2017 11:21 AM in Uncategorized

(Article and photos courtesy of KROX Radio) The Agassiz Townhomes project officially became a reality on Wednesday, October 25th, as a number of area dignitaries, including Senator Mark Johnson, and County Commissioners Don Diedrich and Gary Willhite, and Amy Larson from Minnesota Housing, joined Executive Director at Tri-Valley, Jason Carlson, and representatives from local businesses, along with City and Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority (CHEDA) staff to break ground at the construction site at the corner of Fisher Avenue and Broadway.

Carlson stressed the fact that the project represented both quality partnerships and perseverance.  “It’s our job to identify needs in our communities, and Crookston had an identified housing need a few years ago. For three years now, Tri-Valley has been working with CHEDA, the City, private employers, Otto Bremer Trust, Minnesota Housing, and now Wells Fargo Bank, to put together a needed housing project. It’s one of many things we’re doing in the community. I really think that this is a great example of how Tri-Valley’s Board of Directors is committed to the community of Crookston.” he said.

Vice Mayor and Council Member, Dale Stainbrook praised the affordable housing aspect of the project, saying, “I like the fact that this is income-based housing for our workforce. It’s a step for them to move to the community, get employed with one of our businesses, and it’s a stepping stone for a lot of these tenants; it’s housing they can afford, and if they stay here long enough, we hope that they will buy a home and become part of the community. I think this is going to be a tremendous plus. If we get this in, I think other projects will follow. We still need a variety of single family, affordable workforce housing, and I think this is the first step to reach that goal.”

City Administrator, Shannon Stassen, seconded Stainbrook’s words, adding, “Workforce housing is very important, and we’ve been hearing for a number of years that Crookston needs more of it. This project has been three years in the making, so hats off to Jason Carlson and everybody else involved in sticking around and seeing it through. These houses are going to be important for people who ultimately help our businesses to succeed. We need a workforce, and we need affordable housing for those people who come here to Crookston and fill those jobs, so it’s vital, and we just can’t thank Tri-Valley enough for taking this on – not just today, but long-term.”

And CHEDA Executive Director, Craig Hoiseth said that it was really the creative partnerships that made project reality. “The partnerships were everything in this project. The application stood out at Minnesota Housing because the City of Crookston, CHEDA, the 15 businesses, Tri-Valley, Three Rivers … you name it, it just goes on and on. People who were in support of this project came out full-throttled, with dollars behind them, and enthusiastically embraced this project. The end result is that a good collaboration brings forth a good project, and we look forward to seeing 30 townhomes delivered for Crookston residents in about a year,” he said.

Tri-Valley Head Start, Child & Family Programs “Great Apple Crunch” Food Day!

Posted by Mitch on October 20, 2017 8:58 AM in Uncategorized

Minnesota farmers are in full swing come autumn, it is the perfect time to celebrate the products they grow and raise! Jami Nunn, Food & Nutrition Specialist has been working with the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy to promote Farm to Early Care in TVOC’s head start centers.   Throughout the year there has been two focus fruits or vegetables incorporated into the menu’s each month.  Children spend time learning in their classroom on how valuable farming is to our economy as well learning how fresh produce enhances their palates.

In October, Minnesota and other states across the nation celebrate Farm to School and Early Care Month.  Farm to Early Care Celebrations have taken place within Tri-Valley’s centers such as children showing their love for apples during the “Great Apple Crunch” on Thursday, October 12th.  The centers served apples for lunch and participated in activities revolving around apples.  Centers such as Glencoe/Hutchinson promoted Farm to Head Start by putting on a Harvest Fest for families on October 13th to celebrate this season.

Here is how centers have been celebrating Farm to School and Early Care Month!


Preschool 1 created a Great Apple Crunch door.  In addition; each room did apple tasting, apple research, and several other apple related activities.  As well, the staff enjoyed apples for a healthy treat.


Rochester Read Ten Apples Up On Top to their Kids, talked about colors and make art with that color, They smash apples, make apple sauce, make apple croissants, have apple slices for lunch.


Kids got to weigh apples, talk about colors, shapes, smells and where they come from.  They also got a couple of slices during snack time.


Children completed activities letting children explore a variety of apples. They talked about size, color, and taste. They also had a chance to explore different ways apples could be prepared such as applesauce and apple cider.

St. Cloud:

Planned fun activities for the children such as; practicing fine motor skills, cognitive, talked about colors and much more. We also had fun tasting the different kinds of apples.

East Grand Forks:

Children put their hands inside a feely bag to try and guess what was inside.  They drew pictures in their journal about what they thought it was.  Turned out to be apples! They also taste tested red, green, and yellow apples and talked about the color, taste (sweet or sour), crunchy or soft.  Then they picked what apple they liked best. EGF also read the book “10 Apples Up on Top” by Dr. Seuss and did an activity with apples.  They were able to measure and count during preparation of a cooking activity.

Tri-Valley Foster Grandparent Program Holds Recognition Luncheon

Posted by Mitch on October 12, 2017 8:07 AM in Uncategorized

Photo (L-R) Darlene Jadeke, Corann Fladhammer, Beverly Flickinger, David Vanderhoof

The Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. Foster Grandparent Program held its annual recognition luncheon at the Crookston Eagles Club on Wednesday, October 11, 2017. Heidi Simmons, Senior Programs Director began the event by welcoming the Foster Grandparents and guests to the banquet. Jason Carlson, Tri-Valley’s CEO then thanked all of the volunteers for the difference they are making in the lives of others in our communities.

Following the welcome, the “World of Difference” award was given to individuals who have been nominated by professional staff at their volunteer site. The award is engraved with, “With the little things you do every day, your impact spreads far and wide. Your commitment to improving lives inspires and motivates us all… You make a world of difference.”

Recipients of the World of Difference Award were Grandma Darlene Jadeke (Head Start, East Grand Forks, 8 year volunteer), Grandpa David Vanderhoof (South Point, East Grand Forks, 9 year volunteer), Grandma Beverly Flickinger (Challenger Elementary, Thief River Falls, 7 year volunteer), and Grandma Corann Fladhammer (Win-E-Mac School, Erskine, 12 year volunteer).

Prior to the meal and awards, the Foster Grandparents were entertained by the sounds of the Crookston Area Men’s Chorus led by George French.

For more information on how to become a Foster Grandparent, Caring Companion or how to receive Caring Companion services please call Heidi, Jeanette, Jean, or Kristal at 1-800-584-7020.

Tri-Valley Head Start, Child & Family Programs Parents Attend Parents as Leaders Training Program in Washington, D.C.

Posted by Mitch on October 3, 2017 2:24 PM in Head Start, Migrant Head Start

Three members of the Tri-Valley Head Start/Early Head Start and Migrant & Seasonal Head Start/Migrant & Seasonal Early Head Start Policy Councils had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. in September to attend the Parents as Leaders Training Program. Sponsored by the National Head Start Association and part of the Families Unite for Head Start initiative, this unique educational training program focused on developing parents into leaders in their programs, families, and communities. While in Washington D.C., the parents met with house members and their staff, to include Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Congressman Collin Peterson, and Congressman Tim Walz to share their stories, educate them about the importance of Head Start and how Head Start empowers parents as their child’s first teacher, and canvass for their continued support of Head Start programs. They also joined hundreds of other Head Start parents from across the country at the Families Unite for Head Start Spirit Rally on Capitol Hill.

Pictured from left to right: Juanita Wilkes, Policy Council President for Region V; Bernardo Rangel, Policy Council President for Region RXII; Teresa Luque, Policy Council Vice-President for Region RXII

Chisholm-Bennett Receives Years of Service Recognition from MinnCAP

Posted by Mitch on August 9, 2017 8:28 AM in Head Start

Chisholm Bennett 25 Year Picture (media)Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. staff attended the Minnesota Community Action Partnership (MinnCAP) Annual Training Conference held on August 1-3 at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn. Staff took part in Legislative General Sessions, listened to speakers on various topics, and took part in several educational breakout sessions.

In conjunction with the annual training conference, 25 Year Honorees were recognized for their dedicated service and commitment to Community Action. Tri-Valley’s Jill Chisholm-Bennett (Preschool Teacher, Hendrum Center) was honored for her 25 years of work with Tri-Valley in Crookston.

(A short bio on Jill from the event): Jill began working with Tri-Valley Opportunity Council with the Migrant program in Hendrum, MN in Norman County in the summer of 1991. She has worked with all ages of the Head Start Programs from infant to toddler and preschool levels and has enjoyed all of the different ages. She has spent the majority of her years working at the West Adventure Center Preschool located at the Norman County West Elementary School. She has enjoyed meeting new families over the years and being a part of their children’s learning and watching them grow and develop over the years.

(Photo L-R): Arnie Anderson (MinnCAP Executive Director), Jill Chisholm-Bennett, and Francie Mathes (Office of Economic Opportunity)

Tri-Valley Implements Farm to Head Start

Posted by Mitch on July 10, 2017 3:32 PM in Head Start

Jami Nunn, Food and Nutrition Specialist has been partnering with the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy to implement Farm to Head Start in Tri-Valley Opportunity Councils Head Start centers.

Farm to Head Start works to connect early child care and education settings to local food producers with the objectives of serving locally-grown, healthy foods to young children, providing related nutrition education, and improving child nutrition.

Farm to Head Start activities can increase children’s willingness to try new foods and help them become familiar with local foods they will see in school.

Implementation started on June 5th where a focused produce item is incorporated into the menu every two weeks.  Centers that implement the Farm to Head Start Curriculum will learn about the focused vegetable/fruit the beginning of the week, then it will be presented in the menu in varies different cooking methods.  The pilot center implementing IATPs curriculum is St. Cloud.  All other centers are encouraged to reach out to local farmers and incorporate curriculum revolving around farming and gardening.

Week of June 5 & 12: Asparagus

Week of June 19 & 26: Snap Peas & Snow Peas

Week of July 3: Strawberries

Week of July 10 & 17: Squash

Week of July 24 & 31: Green Beans

Ben Winchester Back by Popular Demand to Talk about Brain Gain and Economic Development and Housing

Posted by Mitch on May 25, 2017 8:23 AM in Uncategorized

Rewriting the Rural Narrative Flyer (2) 052317The Northwest Minnesota Council of Collaboratives and Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. are excited to announce that Ben Winchester will be back to the area by popular demand.  Winchester will give his presentation in Thief River Falls on Tuesday, June 13 and Crookston on Wednesday, June 28. These presentations are a free-of-charge community event.

Winchester and Christopher Ingraham presented Rewriting the Rural Narrative: the “Brain Gain” of Rural America in February and it was so well received that more dates were set. This presentation will be slightly different with an hour focusing on the “Brain Gain” and an hour focusing on rural economic development and housing

The Brain Gain: People often lament a brain drain in rural Minnesota—the loss of 18-25 year-olds who leave their small home towns after high school. But there is also an in-migration to these towns of 30-49 year-old adults and their young children. In many cases, those moving into rural communities offset, or surpass, the numbers of those moving away. This, says Extension research fellow Ben Winchester, is a brain gain. This is hopeful news for rural Minnesota. But the trend must be sustained.

The New Economy: The new economy has the following characteristics: brick and mortar does not equal economic success; it’s more people focused with more self-employment and more (1099) consultant work for short periods of time; there are more diversified jobs and occupations; more multiple-job holding, job sharing and self-employment; recruitment revolves around more than just job and work-related benefits. The bottom line for rural towns is a simple one, Winchester said. “The bottom line is people want to live and move here for what you are today and will be tomorrow, not what you may have been.”

Two opportunities to take part in the presentation are available. Thief River Falls will host the event on Tuesday, June 13 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Ralph Engelstad Arena (Imperial Room). Crookston will host the event on Wednesday, June 28 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the University of Minnesota Crookston (Kiehle Auditorium).The presentations are open to the public and free of charge.

The Northwest Minnesota Council of Collaboratives is an informal partnership comprised of a variety of organizations from individual county collaboratives representing Kittson, Marshall, Mahnomen, Norman, Pennington, Polk and Red Lake counties.

Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. is a non-profit community action agency headquartered in Crookston, Minn. In existence since 1965, Tri-Valley provides services in 84 counties in Minnesota and Northeast North Dakota.

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