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Local Columns

Expanding Social Security field office hours

District manager Beginning on Jan. 8, field offices will remain open until 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, with typical field office hours from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can locate the closest field office to you using our field office locator. In another move to improve ...

Your telescope’s first light

Maybe you received a telescope during the holiday season or perhaps you’ve gifted yourself with a telescope. I want you to get as much as you can out of it. I don’t want your scope winding up collecting dust or showing up for sale online.  You might be tempted to put off using your new ...

News you can use in 2020 and beyond

The start of a new year is traditionally a popular time to reflect on the past and look to make improvements in our lives going forward. Here at the Independent we decided this would be a good time to make one big upgrade and add a new feature. Starting with today’s edition, we are ...

Same goals, different year

On my Facebook page, I recently posted Pusheen’s (my favorite Internet cat) resolutions. They include explore more, play more, snack more and sleep more. Yeah, Pusheen likes to eat and sleep the most. As for me, I am a restless sleeper; most nights I find myself tossing and turning. I also ...

At season’s end

On the slope to the farmstead and the western horizon, the reason for the lack of flushing pheasants became clear. A golden wall stood at the end of the snow-filled drain where the mostly frozen creek flowed down to the small impoundment where my lab Ole and I started our final walk of the ...

Dairy farmer seeks wife

Of all the do-it-yourself projects I undertook back when I was a bachelor — including haircuts — perhaps the most difficult was the business of finding a wife. Being a bachelor farmer isn’t as easy as a person might imagine. For one thing, without a wife or kids, you have nobody to ...

‘Recycle Beyond the Bag’

Three schools (Tracy Elementary, Lakeview Elementary and Samuel Lutheran) in Lyon County and the Environmental Department would like to challenge the residents in Lyon County to “Recycle Beyond the Bag.” Schools were invited to join the Environmental Department in collecting plastic ...

Protect yourself from phone scams

There are many telephone scams going on. Scammers are trying to trick you into giving them your personal information and money. Don’t be fooled! Scammers pretend they’re from Social Security. The number you see on caller ID may even look like an official government number but it is not. ...

Super chilled starry nights

Welcome to stargazing in 2020! January nights are the best of times, but also the worst of times. Just about everywhere nights are cold to downright frigid. Bundle up and you’ll be treated to a great celestial show. In this stargazer’s opinion it’s the best of the year! We start the ...

Is this a good time to refinance your mortgage?

If you have a home mortgage, it likely represents one your largest monthly expenses. With interest rates on the decline, you may be wondering if you could lower your home payments by refinancing the terms of your mortgage. Here are some factors to consider: In recent months, mortgage rates ...

On the Porch

One of the United States’ worst blizzards earned many names: The Great Storm of 1975, the Super Bowl Blizzard, the Tornado Outbreak of 1975, and Storm of the Century (as it was known in Minnesota). By definition, a blizzard isn’t simply a heavy snowstorm. Blizzards must also meet the ...

One day at a time

With paper top hats donned and party blowers buzzing at this point in the season, it’s easy to encapsulate life into a year, or as the nine rolls over to a zero this New Year’s Eve, an entire decade. It’s easy to shrug off this compartmentalization process until a person stops and looks ...

A year-end review

A sparkling clean annum is about to slowly emerge from the cosmic car wash. We begin a new year and a new decade (welcome to the 20s!) with a triple-foam rinse, a deluxe wax job and an invigoratingly power-jetted undercarriage. Before we muddy our freshly polished paint job by roaring down ...

Wood Lake Battlefield

The last battle of the United States and Dakota conflict of 1862 took place on the Wood Lake Battlefield. To commemorate this battle the Wood Lake monument stands on one acre of state land in the area where Sibley located part of his camp near Granite Falls. The monument can be found by driving ...

Help a loved one with Social Security

District manager The aged and people with disabilities may need extra assistance to manage their finances. If you have a loved one who needs your help, you may be able to become a representative payee. A representative payee receives the beneficiary’s payments and is given the authority ...

Christmas star, 2019

One of the traditions of this most wonderful time of the year is to look for a morning “Christmas Star” in the east just before sunrise. The trouble is that this time of year there aren’t any bright stars in that part of the early morning sky. The only one that comes close is the bright ...

The years fly by

It had been years —decades — since Charlie Brown had seen many of his childhood friends. Every year, he would write a quick note in their Christmas card and send it to them without thinking too much about it. For some reason, this year was different. Suddenly, it seemed, the years had ...

In the cold

The rooster rose from the drain’s snow-filled cattails near my feet and curled out in front of me, banking against the northwest gusts that spurred the addition of new layers which my scattergun snagged on as I attempted to raise it to my shoulder. The slick thumb pad of my second pair of ...

A chickenpox Christmas

The teeny needle left a tiny hole in my arm. “There you go!” chirped the perky nurse who had administered the shot. “You don’t even need a Band-Aid!” Only after I’d left the doctor’s office did I realize that she hadn’t given me a lollipop even though I’d been incredibly ...

Do you think your Medicare income-related premium is wrong?

Social Security cares about accuracy and we want you to get the exact benefit amount you deserve. Changes in the law affect how we calculate monthly Medicare Part B (medical insurance) and Medicare prescription drug coverage premiums. • Medicare Part B provides coverage for physician ...