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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

Cheers: Consolidating three Bemidji School District programs -- Bemidji Youth Learning and Working, Alternative Education Canter and adult basic education -- under a single roof downtown, with room for expansion, is a good idea. The Bemidji School Board approved a purchase agreement last week with First National Bank Bemidji to buy the bank's former downtown location at 502 Minnesota Ave. N.W. The three education programs have been lodged at separate venues. The $700,000 price will reduce the local property tax levy by $73,000 annually. Not only will the consolidation save taxpayers, it will also be more efficient and fill an empty downtown site.

Cheers: Several entities celebrated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day April 22 with weeklong activities. Bemidji State University held cleanups, film presentations, concerts and Campus Camp Wellstone to encourage sustainability and environmental stewardship. The Noon Rotary Club cleaned up the Lake Bemidji waterfront and spiffed up the picnic pavilion. The Bemidji Lions Club harvested trash from U.S. Highway 71 ditches from Bemidji south into Hubbard County. Bemidji Park and Recreation tilled up community garden spaces at Nymore Park. And a consortium of businesses -- Hampton Inn, Green Mill, Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and Nature's Edge Garden Center -- planted a young orchard at Nymore Park for future picking by the public.

Jeers: An armed man was spotted at a North Carolina airport parking lot just after Air Force One departed Sunday with President Barack Obama aboard. The man was arrested on a charge of going armed in terror of the public. He told an officer in the airport parking lot he wanted to see the president, and he had a car equipped with police gear, including a siren and flashing lights, though he did not work in law enforcement. A probe into what he was doing with a gun, formulas for long-distance sighting of rifle scopes and why his car was equipped with police gear continues. Any threat to the president raises specters of President John Kennedy's assassination and the attempt on President Ronald Reagan's life.

Cheers: Bemidji has a downtown grocery, Harmony Natural Foods Coop, along with locally owned and operated supermarkets -- Lueken's and MarketPlace -- on the north and south sides of town. The purchase agreement Harmony has made for the former TruStar Federal Credit Union building at 413 Third St. N.W., in partnership with a new public radio station, KBXE, is good news for the continuing vitality of Bemidji.