Weather Forecast


Sanford Center executive director approved

BEMIDJI – The Sanford Center will have a new executive director at the beginning of the year.

The Sanford Center Advisory Board recommended Curtis L. Webb for the position Monday morning. The Bemidji City Council then approved the recommendation Monday night.

Webb is currently the general manager at Ralston Arena in Ralston, Neb. That facility, which opened last month and is home to the United States Hockey League’s Omaha Lancers, is similar in size to the Sanford Center. 

“I am very appreciative of the confidence VenuWorks and the Sanford Center Advisory Board has placed in me to lead the Sanford Center management team,” Webb said in a press release. “I am looking forward to arriving in Bemidji and getting started on the new year.”

David Ross, the current interim executive director of the Sanford Center, presented the recommendation to the city council Monday night. Although it is not a city position, the council has veto power over the recommendation.

Both the Sanford Center Advisory Board and city council approved the recommendation unanimously.

“I’m very comfortable with this decision,” Ward 5 City Councilor and advisory board member Greg Negard said. “I think he’ll be a great fit.”

Previously, Webb worked for Global Spectrum Facility Management, which competed with VenuWorks for the contract to operate the Sanford Center. He worked at three facilities in his eight years with Global Spectrum.

Prior to that, he worked at American Airlines Center in Dallas and Gund Arena (which has since been renamed the Quicken Loans Arena) in Cleveland. Both arenas host professional sports teams.

Webb has a master’s degree in sports administration and pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado.

Webb will start in his new role on Jan. 2, city manager John Chattin said.

The search’s end comes after Roger Swanson was fired from the position in August. Swanson took over the post after Bob LeBarron resigned in October 2011.

Power line easements approved

The city council approved an easement amount for land involved in a proposal to move power lines across Midway Drive South.

Otter Tail Power Co. plans to move the lines from the north side of the street to the south side in an effort to improve the aesthetics of the area. The new lines will include pad mounted transformers.

The company will pay $24,406 for easements to use the land.

Crosswalk proposal approved

The city will add a new crosswalk and signs at the intersection of 15th Street and Minnesota Avenue.

The decision came after Bemidji State University nursing students approached the council about potential safety hazards at that intersection. The students observed that many children walk across the street to get to the Boys and Girls Club of the Bemidji Area or youth football activities unsupervised, leading to a couple of close calls with cars.

Crystal Lesmeister, one of the nursing students who presented the idea to the council Monday, said many community members noticed the hazard as well.

“We began interviewing children, parents, educators and residents in the community, and it was apparent that many people had the same concerns,” Lesmeister said. She said some parents told them they don’t allow their kids to attend the Boys and Girls Club because it’s too dangerous to cross the street alone.

The students originally proposed a solar-powered lighted crossing sign at that intersection, but public works director Craig Gray indicated that those types of signs are typically used for high-volume intersections. Instead, the city will add a painted crosswalk and signs, potentially in the next few days, depending on the weather.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

(701) 255-5607