City makes bonding request for Carnegie Library restoration project; Persell to advocate for library, veterans home, other proposals
BEMIDJI — John Persell considers himself an optimist.
The Bemidji state representative is hopeful that the Carnegie Library restoration project will receive at least some of the $800,000 in state bonding next year that was recently requested by the city of Bemidji.
But he also acknowledged some realities.
"I think we stand a reasonable chance of being successful" in bonding for local projects next year, said Persell, a DFLer who was elected in 2008. But he added: "It’s more unusual than usual, I would offer to you, that projects make the bonding cut on their first try."
The Bemidji City Council voted June 17 to submit the bonding request for the Save the Carnegie Committee. That application was sent to the state Management and Budget office last week, Mayor Rita Albrecht said.
With $500,000 in hand, another $800,000 would put fundraisers within striking distance of their $1.6 million goal to restore the century-old building and move it away from State Highway 197. But even without it, they still are pursuing grants and donations.
Meanwhile, Persell said he will continue pushing for a veterans home in Beltrami County. He introduced a bill last session that would bond $250,000 for planning a 90-bed facility on land donated by Sanford Health in Bemidji.
Proponents of that project, which has largely been a Beltrami County initiative, cite the long distances to other similar facilities and the number of veterans in the area.
Persell said he doesn’t think that project, or any others in his district, will necessarily be competing with each other. But he acknowledged that the Legislature tries to spread out