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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

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Time for cameras in courtrooms

A pilot project in Minnesota's courtrooms aims to determine whether expanded photo and video coverage of state court proceedings should be more regularly allowed during hearings and trials.

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Currently, Minnesota's judicial rules permit cameras in district courts if the judge, prosecution and defense all agree. That's rarely happened since the 1983 rule went into effect.

So far, in a few proceedings across the state, judges and lawyers said cameras haven't impacted proceedings, but attorneys worried the cameras would cause problems for witnesses testifying in some cases, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Cameras are routinely used in other states, without issues, and professional journalists make it a point to avoid disrupting court proceedings. Witnesses who testify are participating in a process meant to be open and public, designed to be fair to all parties, including defendants who stand accused of crimes.

While those leery of cameras voice concern that cameras could dissuade victims or witnesses from testifying, so far the limited number of cases has shown little evidence that those worries have materialized.

The state's pilot project is a good first step, but it's time to open the courts to cameras operated by professional journalists, both TV and newspapers.

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Helping food shelf

With three weeks remaining, the Peanut Butter Project needs the community's help in stocking the Bemidji Community Food Shelf.

There are collection bins for jars of peanut butter throughout the community, including at Paul Bunyan Mall, grocery stores and several area schools.

The brainchild of Susan Goudge, manager at the mall, the project came together due to the escalating cost of peanut butter and the lack of availability to needy families. She enlisted help from 13 area schools.

Late last week, Goudge said about 300 jars have been donated, but that a lot more is needed this month to help meet the needs of area families. Donating peanut butter is an effective, creative way to help those who struggle to make ends meet.

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Share your visions

This week, Bemidji residents have a chance to shape, mold and create a new vision for the waterfront parks downtown.

Library and Paul Bunyan parks are landmark destinations, a place where we celebrate our heritage and gather frequently, regardless of the time of year. Input is vital to preserving the parks' history and shaping the future use and development of what has become a popular spot for both residents and visitors.

A meeting, planned for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Sanford Center, is designed to collect feedback, input and ideas for the two parks.

While the redevelopment of these parks is important to the city's image, the changes in Library and Paul Bunyan parks must also meet our community's future needs.

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