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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

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opinion Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Kids Count data disturbing

The annual Kids Count data, which provides state-by-state statistics for children's health and well-being, showed some disturbing trends for Minnesota, and particularly our region, when it was released last Wednesday.

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The Minnesota Kids Count divided the state into 13 economic development clusters of counties.

Region 2, comprised of Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Lake of the Woods and Mahnomen counties, posted the worst performance in the state in several factors, including the highest rate of children living in poverty (26 percent) and the most students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches (58 percent).

The region also had the lowest median family income in the state at $50,330, more than $5,000 less than the statewide median income.

Nearly 30 percent of Beltrami County children lived in poverty in 2010.

These numbers further underscore the importance economic development plays in our region as the unemployment rates are far higher here than other areas of Minnesota (7 percent in April for Beltrami County, 5.7 percent statewide).

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Helping hands

This week the Northwoods Habitat For Humanity chapter is building a handicap-accessible home in one week for a Bemidji woman and her family.

The project, part of the chapter's Blitz Build, is welcome in our community. It provides a good home for a family and gives organizers, volunteers and the recipient a stake in the home.

For Richell Thayer, it allows her to become the first homeowner in her family and a safe place for her children to play.

Those involved in the build, including the Headwaters Building Association, are commended on their commitment to making our community a better place to live.

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Youthful gathering

A scheduling conflict for the 12th annual Youth Rally this Thursday turns out to be a blessing in disguise.

Normally at the Lake Bemidji waterfront, the event was prompted to find a new home to avoid a conflict with this weekend's Kraus-Anderson fishing tournament.

Now the Youth Rally will converge on Bemidji City Park, an ideal spot to hold the event, which starts at noon. The venue offers the Bemidji Skate Park, an 18-hole disc golf course and the space for a terrific event.

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