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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

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opinion Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Something must give to settle contract

The Bemidji Education Association, the teachers' union, and the School District have met 11 times in an attempt to settle on a contract which expired last July. So far, public comments from leaders on both sides of the table have been polite, but something has to give. The union said they've accepted pay terms over the years that leave Bemidji teachers among the bottom tier of districts statewide. On the other hand, district negotiators want more instruction hours per day and want high-quality teachers. But with no state-mandated deadline in place, neither side seems well served. And the biggest loser could be parents with school-aged children. As pay lags, the district potentially faces losing good teachers, who like employees in the private sector, may opt to pursue better salaries elsewhere.

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Engage the process

Former Sen. Rick Santorum's visit to Bemidji on Super Sunday should urge more people to get involved in the political process, regardless of party affiliation. The Republican presidential hopeful could have spent time campaigning in more population dense areas so close to today's precinct caucuses, but his visit reminds us that rural America still can make a difference. It reinforces the message local party leaders, both Democrat and Republican, have made in the last few weeks: engage in the process and make a difference by attending a caucus meeting.

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Bite out of crime

Violence, drugs and firearms are part of the daily culture for serious criminals, some of which have strong ties to our area. Details from a federal indictment released last week are chilling, but they also must reinforce the public to work with law enforcement to eradicate crime. The public doesn't have to accept it. We all play a role - owing it to ourselves, our neighbors and our community - to fight back against crime and gangs by reporting suspicious behavior to your local police and sheriff's offices.

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Successful year

The Boys and Girls Club of the Bemidji Area celebrated another successful year with its annual dinner and fundraiser last week. The club serves more than 500 youth in our community, providing them structure, support and development opportunities that might not otherwise be available. Congratulations to the club, staff, volunteers and the sponsors who help keep its doors open.

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A strong start

Last month proved to be a strong start for a group of area residents who aim to protect the environment and our natural resources by bringing together like-minded people to address issues effecting our quality of life. The Sustainable Tuesdays group capped off January's month of events, which focused on waste, with a panel discussion by local officials, who fielded questions from the audience. The group's grassroots efforts are an effective way to shape and change behavior.

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