Upcoming events (posted Dec. 19)

Celebrating the holidays with music

The We R Able Support Group invites area residents to a holiday celebration at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Chisago County Senior Center, 38790 6th Ave., for a program that includes a potluck and features music by Jon Ekstrom and Muriel Kennedy.

Donations are accepted for the program. For more information, call 320-358-1220.

Snowshoe along the St. Croix 

Topic of the trek: snow, birds, and shivering for survival. Join the naturalist noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 21 for a leisurely walk along the St. Croix River on snowshoes. Designed for ages 8 and up; visitors explore a fun winter topic on this 1-mile trek. Registration required by calling 651-583-2125. Program and snowshoes are free — limited to 30 people. Cancelled if temperature is below -15 degrees or snow depth is inadequate.

Christmas bird count

Join Wild River Audubon for the annual Christmas Bird Count Dec. 21. Wild River Audubon has been leading counts in Chisago County since 1977, resulting in the longest running data set in east central Minnesota.  The Christmas Bird Count provides valuable information on winter bird populations, and is great fun as well.

Meet at 7:30 a.m. at Chisago Lake Lutheran Church, 1 Summit Ave., Center City. All levels of birders are encouraged to attend. Beginners will be paired with more experienced birders. Bird all or part of the day. After birding, meet back at the church for a potluck dinner and a chance to recap the day. Bring a beverage and a dish to share.

Winter wings and take-home things 

How many sunflower seeds does a chickadee need to survive a cold winter night? What birds change color at this time of year? Discover these answers and more as visitors to Wild River State Park explore the incredible birds seen all winter long  1 to 2 p.m.  Dec. 23 at the trail center. Attendees will play bird ID games and then create pinecone bird feeders and simple cardboard binoculars to take home.

Cross-country skiing for beginners

Wild River State Park will host a cross-country skiing for beginners program noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 27 starting at the park’s trail center.

After a quick introduction, hit the trails for a morning of exploration and fun. Participants must bring their own equipment, or  rent it ($15-$20/day) by calling  651-257-0685. Registration is required. Registrations can be made by calling 651-583-2125. This program is limited to 20 participants ages 10 and older. It will be cancelled if the temperature is below -15 degrees, or if snow depth is inadequate.

A Minnesota State Park vehicle permit is required of any vehicle entering  the  park. This permit can be purchased at the park entrance office for $5/day or $25/year.

Rock and Bluegrass musician performance

Musician Pat Schonhardt, of rural Braham, has performed in many venues

in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest playing guitar and singing rock, bluegrass, old time, and Native American music.  He will perform holiday music and will also encourage listeners to sing along at the Arts Prescription (Rx) concert with We R Able starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 27.

This concert will be at North Country Coffee at the North Branch Mall, 38500 Tanger Dr. A set meal begins at 5 p.m.

Winter birding for beginners and beyond

A winter birding program for those new to the activity is scheduled at Wild River State Park noon-2 p.m. Dec. 28.

Birding can be a fun and enjoyable hobby for long winter days. Learn basic bird feeding tips along with simple bird identification during this leisurely indoor/outdoor activity. Experienced birders are welcome to bring more advanced discussion. Binoculars are provided or visitors are welcome to bring their own. Meet at the visitor center.
A Minnesota State park vehicle permit is required of any vehicle entering the park. This permit can be purchased at the park entrance office for $5/day or $25/year. For more information, call 651-583-2125 x 227.

NB library craft workshop

Kids ages 5-11 are invited to join us at the North Branch Area Library for a “Make It and Take It” crafts workshop 2-4 p.m. Dec. 30. Stop in to make a couple of winter-themed craft items. A sample of each craft will be on display at the library. Due to limited resources pre-registration is required. To register a child, stop by the library during open hours or call the library at 651-674-8443.

55+ driver improvement course

Driver improvement courses for those ages 55-plus are being offered at the following times and locations:

• Jan. 4 (8-hour first time course), 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Fairview Chisago Lakes Med Center, 11725 Stinson Ave, Chisago City.

• January 8th (4-hour refresher course), 5 p.m.-9 p.m., North Branch Area Com Ed – High School, 38175 Grand Ave., North Branch.

The driver improvement course is open to the public; pre-registration is required. A Minnesota Highway Safety and Research Center certified instructor teaches this class. By utilizing the most up-to-date research in the field, participants will be provided the latest information in regards to driver safety, new laws, and vehicle technology. The fee for the 4-hour refresher course is $20, and the 8-hour course is $24. For more information or to register, visit www.mnsafetycenter.org or call 1-(888)-234-1294.

Persons age 55 and older who complete the course qualify for a 10 percent discount on their auto insurance premiums for three years, according to Minnesota law. First time participants must complete the initial eight hours of training and a 4-hour refresher class every three years to maintain the 10 percent discount.

Movies at Crex

Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, 102 E. Crex Ave., Grantsburg, Wis., is hosting “Movies at Crex” nights 6-8 p.m. Jan. 6, Feb. 3, March 3 and April 7.

The movie on Jan. 6 will be “The Big Year.”  These free, wildlife-centered movies will be shown on a big, state-of-the-art screen.  This program is limited to 60 people.  For more information, call  715-463-2739, or email kristina.pupak@wisconsin.gov.

New to Medicare sessions

Going on Medicare soon or just interested in how it works?  There will be information on Medicare given out at the following sessions at Fairview Lakes Medical Center, 5200 Fairview Blvd. Wyoming, as well as questions answered:

• Jan. 8, 10 a.m.—noon

• Feb. 5, 10 a.m.—noon

• March 5, 10 a.m.—noon

• April 2, 10 a.m.—noon

Aspects of Medicare parts A,B,C and D will be covered as well as information on supplemental insurance to Medicare and how to report Medicare fraud and abuse.  There is no cost to these sessions, but registration is needed so the proper amount of materials are available. Call Amy Tvedt at 1-800-333-2433 ext 83026 and leave a message with your name and phone number to be included.

Animal tracks and signs

Wild River State Park is hosting an animal tracks and signs program noon-2 p.m. Jan. 11.

Many birds and animals are active in the winter and are leaving clues to their daily activities in the snow. Visitors will learn to tune their eyes to start seeing these clues and learn easy tips and tricks to identifying what crossed the path before them on this 1-mile walk.
A Minnesota State Park vehicle permit is required of any vehicle entering the park. This permit can be purchased at the park entrance office for $5/day or $25/year. For more information, call (651) 583-2125 x 227.

Donations accepted at Christmas display

The Koran’s Christmas display will again be carrying on the tradition of providing a great experience for the children in Chisago County. This year will be bigger than ever with help from Boy Scout Troop 135 from Center City. Troop Leader Tony Koran and his Boy Scouts helped set up and install the display for the 2013-2014 season.

The display, off Lincoln Trail in North Branch, about five miles east of the Middle School,  is on now and will run 5-10 p.m. every day through Jan 12. — Sunday through Thursday: 5-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 5-11 p.m. The display is set up so visitors can drive through it.

The Boy Scouts will be accepting cash donations to provide support and additional camp opportunities to the members of Troop 135. They will also be accepting non-perishable food items to be donated to a local food shelf in Chisago County.

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