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Year in Review: Bemidji sees much growth during 2010

The crowd inside the Bemidji Regional Event Center celebrates after Bemidji State's Jamie MacQueen scores the first goal Oct. 15 against the University of North Dakota. The goal was scored at 1:52 of the first period. Pioneer File Photo

The year 2010 saw much growth in Bemidji.

The Bemidji Regional Event Center (since renamed The Sanford Center), under construction since April 2009, opened to great fanfare. New business and speculation building continues along Paul Bunyan Drive Northwest, where Menards will soon be ready for business. Ours to Serve House of Hospitality will soon open its new Village of HopeAs 2011 progresses, more activity is likely all around the area.

Here are some local highlights of the last year.


- Lake Bemidji South Shore development took steps forward Jan. 4 with the authorization of the sale of $5.78 million in bonds to finance land purchase. This action followed the authorization in 2008 of $14.5 million in bonds to finance the land for development.

- On Jan. 11, Bemidji Fire Chief Dick Sathers handed over the fire chief's white helmet to new Fire Chief Dave Hoefer during E Bemidji Education Association and Bemidji School District reached agreement on teacher contracts Jan. 15, just hours before the district would have been docked a one-time penalty fee of $130,000 in the form of state aid reduction.

- Again, Bemidji, the self-described Curling Capital of the United States, hosted a national event, the United Stets Curling Association Junior National Championships, the week of Jan 24. Young curlers from as far away as the East and West Coasts and Alaska took to the ice at the Bemidji Curling Club.

- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs signed a five-year agreement Jan. 28 to work together to maintain the Upper and Lower Red Lakes fishery.


- Zuzana Tomcikova, Bemidji State University women's hockey goalie, was named to the Olympic team to play for her native Slovakia. Bemidji also had an Olympic connection in United States curler Natalie Nicholson.

- For the third year in a row, a 1,000-meter oval on Lake Bemidji was the site for the National Long Track Speed Skating Marathon Feb. 20 and 21.

- Babe City Rollers opened as Bemidji's new roller derby team with its first bout Feb. 27.

- Former Bemidji State University hockey coach R.H. "Bob" Peters dropped the puck for the last game at the John Glas Fieldhouse Feb. 20.

- Ella Lundquist, 26-year Buena Vista Logging Days Queen, died at age 99.

- George Stowe, first professional director of the North Star Chapter of the American Red Cross based in Bemidji, retired after 15 years of service.

- Bemidji launched the first Lake Bemidji Pond Hockey Tournament Feb. 26.

- Mississippi Headwaters Blood Bank celebrated 50 years of service to the community.

- Laddie Elwell, executive director of the Headwaters Science Center, was inaugurated into the Northwest Minnesota Women's Hall of Fame.

- More than 600 volunteers packed meals Feb. 28 in the Kids Against Hunger of Central Minnesota effort to help victims of the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake.


- Bill Lawrence, publisher for 21 years of the Native American Press/Ojibwe News, died March 2 at the VA Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, after a long illness.

- Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann announced March 6 that he would run for the District 4A State House seat. His announcement left the mayor's position open for new candidates.

- Gov. Tim Pawlenty cut from the budget funding for the Headwaters Science Center, the Paul Bunyan Trail bridge and Red Lake School District.

- Bemidji High School girls' basketball team won the sectional champions and earned a trip to the state basketball tournament.

- A fire that destroyed part of the Regency Park Apartments March 22 brought in firefighters from Bagley, Blackduck, Cass Lake, Solway and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to help the Bemidji Fire Department fight the blaze. The apartment was safely evacuated and no one was injured as a result of the fire.

- Cass Lake-Bena High School boys' basketball team earned a trip to the Class A state tournament.

- The U.S. Border Patrol set up a headquarters in Bemidji.


- Bemidji hosted the Minnesota State Archery Association Indoor Archery Tournament April 10 at the Bemidji State University Gillett Recreation Center.

- Ted Gillett was honored by "Bemidji Leads!" with the Jim Benson Award for Outstanding Individual Stewardship April 15.

- Sandford Health Care and MeritCare merged as Sanford Health & MeritCare.

- The Bemidji School District approved on April 19 the purchase agreement for the former downtown First National Bank building to become the Downtown Education Center.

- Beltrami County Natural Resource Management Department and the Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District merged April 20.

- Ours to Serve House of Hospitality Executive Director Rebecca Hoffman and board members broke turf with golden shovels for a new Village of Hope homeless shelter April 29. The shelter is scheduled to open early in 2011.


- Beltrami County Sheriff's Investigator Danelle Haugen was honored with the Minnesota Association of Women Police 2010 Excellence in Performance award.

- The Bemidji City Council voted May 10 to accept a bid of $1.5 million for a top-of-the-line scoreboard for the Bemidji Regional Event Center, now named The Sanford Center.

- On May 14, members of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and their supporters set nets in Lake Bemidji in a protest to demonstrate their claims that the Treaty of 1855 guaranteed them hunting, fishing, gathering and travel rights in lands they ceded to the U.S. government.

- The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities recommended Richard Hanson as the replacement for former Bemidji State University President Jon Quistgaard.

- The Bemidji City Council approved on May 17 new pet ownership rules restricting the number of pets per owners to three dogs or three cats, or a total combination of four dogs and cats.

- Red Lake Nation voters re-elected Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain Jr. with a 56 percent majority May 19.

- Janet Brademan, director of the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, was named Bemidji's 22nd Friend of the Arts.


- The Bemidji City Council approved a bid of $314,473 for a skate park to be constructed in the renovated Bemidji City Park near the Bemidji Curling Club.

- Bemidji hosted the 58th annual Minnesota State Square and Round Dance Convention the weekend of June 12.

- A tornado destroyed a section of Wadena, including the school on June 17.

- Northern Dental Access Center of Bemidji earned the Rural Health Team Award June 29 at the Rural Health Conference in Duluth.


- "Gaea," one of the downtown Bemidji beaver statues - a colorful rendition by Blackduck artist Deborah Davis - was removed following complaints that the images are sexual. The removal resulted in protests from other beaver artists and members of the community and the eventual reinstatement of "Gaea."

- Security BankUSA celebrated 100 years in business. The bank was chartered Feb. 7, 1910, and the first of four generations of the Baer family to manage the bank. Homer Baer joined the staff in 1915.

- Officials broke ground for the $630,000 Bemidji Regional Airport renovation and expansion project.

- The Center for Research and Innovation was renamed "Optivation."

- Concordia Language Villages German Camp celebrated 50 years July 9.

- The Paul Bunyan Vintage Auto Club 27th annual car show featured six decades of vehicle the weekend of July 17.


- The fifth annual Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival drew 69 teams to compete Aug. 7.

- Mahnomen County Deputy Chris Dewey, who was shot in a Feb. 18 standoff in Mahnomen, died of his wounds.

- Five years after Bemidji joined the America in Bloom movement, the first judges, Diane Clasen and Evelyn Alemanni returned to note improvements in the appearance of the city.

- Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann and Walker Mayor Brad Walhof cut the ribbon linking the Paul Bunyan Trail from Guthrie to Walker Aug. 21.


- Betty and Dee Jay Arens and Steve Saari took over the Wild Rose Theater in the Bemidji Masonic Temple as Saarens Productions.

- Jon Shorter, fourth-grade teacher at Horace May Elementary School, was named Bemidji Education Association Teacher of the Year Sept. 1.

- Gary Trueblood dismantled the miniature golf course at Paul Bunyan Amusement Park. Labor Day was the finale for the park, which the Truebloods operated for 50 years.

- Ann Marie Ward, Beltrami County 4-H coordinator, was honored as the 2010 Beltrami County Farm Bureau Friend of Agriculture Sept. 9.

- The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe held open house the week of Sept. 13 for the newly renovated Palace Casino.

- After 25 years as the first executive director of the Joint Economic Development Commission, Larry Young announced his retirement to take effect at the end of 2010.


- On Oct. 6, the Leech Lake Tribal College in Cass Lake received 10-year reaccreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

- Gabriel Wakanabo was honored as outstanding post-secondary education student of the year by the Minnesota Indian Education Association Oct. 6.

- The Bemidji Regional Event Center, now known as The Sanford Center, officially opened Oct. 15. Ground was broken for the center in April 2009, and work continued for 19 months. The 185,000-square-foot building is on a 140-acre multiuse site. Although the Bemidji State University men's and women's hockey anchor the center, it also features a ballroom, meeting rooms and can seat up to 6,000 people for concerts and other entertainment.

- More than 300 people turned out in downtown Bemidji Oct. 23 dressed in zombie makeup to take part in the filming of "Lazarus," a movie by Mike Bredon and Lara Gerhardson.

- Bemidji experienced record low air pressure at 28.33 inches Oct. 26.

- Schoolcraft Learning Community celebrated its 10th anniversary at Concordia Language Villages.


- Nov. 2 election day brought changes to the Bemidji City Council and state Legislature. Dave Larson was elected Bemidji's mayor. Roger Hellquist retained his City Council seat and Jim Thompson and Rita Albrecht became new councilors. Republican John Carlson took over from DFL Sen. Mary Olson for District 4 and Republican Dave Hancock takes won over DFL Rep. Brita Sailer. In the U.S. House, Republican Chip Cravaack ousted long-time DFL Rep. James Oberstar.

- The Bemidji Skate Park opened Oct. 5 after years of planning and fundraising by supporters. Mayor Richard Lehmann cut the ribbon and skaters poured in at the new facility in Bemidji City Park.

- The North Country Health Service Board signed a letter of intent Nov. 17 to merge with Sanford Health. The tentative name for the new hospital and health care entity is Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota.

- United Way of Bemidji Area concluded the 2010 campaign Nov. 30 with $407,093 to support local charities and nonprofits. The celebration featured a Dr. Seuss theme with committee members dressed in characters such as the Grinch, Cat in the Hat, Horton and Thing One and Thing Two.


- On Dec. 5, the long-awaited announcement came that the naming rights for the Bemidji Regional Event Center had been bought by Sanford Health for $2 million over 10 years. The Sanford Center hosts Bemidji State University men's and women's hockey, as well as conventions, celebrations and a variety of entertainment, so far ranging from Christian rock music to "red neck" comedy to "Sesame Street Live."

- Red Lake Indian Health Service officials cut the ribbon to open a new 18,500-square-foot section of the hospital housing dental, optical, behavioral health, community health nursing and records.

- The Bemidji City Council voted Dec. 20 to extend the bar closing time from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. Those in favor said the extension would aid development spur for the property around The Sanford Center.

- On Dec. 21, the Beltrami County Board received news that Beltrami County is the only one of Minnesota's 87 counties to experience a property tax decrease.