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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

Cheer: Book Festival delivers again

The Bemidji Library Book Festival drew an impressive slate of authors to read their works, converse with audiences and build bonds within the community. Kudos to all the organizers who made a week's worth of literary excellence accessible to the public. Inviting Fargo, N.D., journalist Roxana Saberi as keynote speaker was an exceptional coup. Her work in Iran, subsequent capture and imprisonment on the false charge of spying for the United States, and the book she wrote about her experiences, "Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran," are known and acknowledged worldwide. An appreciative audience welcomed Saberi to the Bemidji High School Auditorium.

Cheer: Think-off champ

Marsh Muirhead of Bemidji was honored to be one of the four debaters chosen from a nationwide slate of possible candidates to take on the question "Does Poetry Matter?" at the Great American Think-off at the New York Mills Cultural Center. Muirhead's position that poetry does matter and his defense of his arguments won him the applause and votes of both audience and judges. He brought home the gold medal depicting Auguste Rodin's famous figure of "The Thinker" localized by being seated on a tractor.

Jeer: Force closed

Federal authorities have decided they won't prosecute anyone else in connection with the defunct Metro Gang Strike Force and have closed the case. The Twin Cities Metro Gang Strike Force was a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement unit shut down amid scandal nearly two years ago. Last year, the federal government prosecuted a police officer for allegedly violating the civil rights of a teen by kicking the boy in the head in 2008. A jury found the officer not guilty. The FBI was asked to investigate after a Legislative Auditor's report uncovered a series of problems with the strike force, including missing cash. Closing the case at this point raises more questions about the activities of the force and the whereabouts of the disappeared money.

Cheer: Kids fishing

For 25 years dedicated fishing enthusiasts turn out as guides for children on "Take a Kid Fishing" day. This year the children set out in soaking rain to enjoy Lake Bemidji, casting their lines and pulling in the bounty of the lake. The young fisherfolk and their families were treated to a fish dinner at Lake Bemidji State Park at the end of the day. And to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Take a Kid Fishing," they each received a copy of a aerial group photo.