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Pioneer Cheers & Jeers

Winter might have started late in the Bemidji area, but the staples of what makes Bemidji unique this time of year are underway. This past weekend, the Beaver Pride Hardwater Classic fishing tourney drew about 500 outdoor enthusiasts. The weeks ahead include a wide variety of fun events to offer a little bit of everything for those looking to celebrate the season. Later this week, Polar Daze kicks off with a Paul and Babe exhibit and a weekend full of entertaining activities. Before the end of the month, we'll enjoy the annual Taste of Northern Minnesota. While winter hasn't brought the snow we're used to, there's still plenty of ways to enjoy living in the northern climate.

Cheer: Fighting hunger

The Bemidji Community Food Shelf provides a much-needed service to families and individuals in our area who struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table. The workers, volunteers and donors at the food shelf should be commended for their commitment and dedication to making a difference in fighting hunger and poverty in our area. They are making a difference daily in the lives of people who need help putting food on the table.

Jeer: Consequences

Last year's Minnesota budget deal may force counties to pick up health care tabs for some of the state's sickest and poorest until state lawmakers can rewrite legislation penned last summer. Emergency medical assistance for about 2,300 non-U.S. citizens living in the state has been cut off, although some have appealed and continue to receive emergency services required by federal law. Some of the recipients are not living in the country legally, but others are seeking asylum in the U.S. and will no longer receive health care services, including chemotherapy and dialysis. It's another example of a how failing to write an effective state budget deal last year can have unintended consequences, including requiring counties to pay bills when patients arrive in hospital emergency rooms where they can't be turned away.

Cheer: Hockey solidarity

This year's Hockey Day Minnesota, scheduled for Saturday, will be dedicated to Jack Jablonski's family after the 16-year-old junior varsity hockey player for Benilde-St. Margaret's severed his spinal cord in a game last month. A telethon will help raise money for the family, and area hockey players were ahead of the curve in showing their support for Jablonski. Bemidji boys and girls high school hockey teams are wearing stickers in support of the player. The injury, while rare in the sport, has created awareness for safety while playing it.

Cheer: Collaboration

The collaboration between Shared Vision, Bemidji's Ojibwe Language Project and the school district is a great sign of working together. Bemidji High School students are making dozens of signs featuring words in Ojibwe for placement throughout schools in the district, helping further the awareness and understanding of the Ojibwe culture in the community while drastically reducing costs associated with the project.