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Pioneer Cheers & Jeers

Moving ahead without help from Congress

It’s unfortunate Congress cut funding to establish health centers to serve underinsured and uninsured low-income residents, particularly after providing dollars to research the need in communities such as Bemidji.

Initial funding allowed for the research and data collection for a communitywide health care assessment, which showed the city and Beltrami County has unmet health care needs, but no community health center available to meet them.

While seemingly at a standstill, local supporters who worked on the assessment vow their work isn’t over, and results from the 10-month process provides a roadmap for efforts going forward.

For instance, Northern Dental Access Center plans to work with partners and expand offerings through a multi-year, phased approach.

Those working to help the targeted populations should be commended for their efforts to forge ahead despite Congress’ lack of support.

Serious consequences

In the past 10 days, there have been several motor vehicle crashes in the area.

Accidents do happen, but many collisions can be avoided with more careful driving or better judgment. That appears to be the case in our area recently as the number of serious crashes resulted in injuries or death.

Repeatedly, law enforcement and transportation officials have issued reminders or stern warnings against irresponsible driving — especially in regards to driving under the influence.

Traffic laws and sound driving principles are designed to make transportation safer for everyone on the roads and poor decisions can, and frequently do, bring severe consequences.

Help for houses

A zero-interest loan program through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to help west Nymore homeowners tidy up their properties would be a terrific shot in the arm for the neighborhood.

The city wants to apply for the funds, which would provide deferred-payment loans to income-eligible households for qualifying projects approved through a housing inspection, and reallocate the funds to property owners.

Loans would be limited to $25,000. If the city’s application is approved, residents would be selected in the order they turned in applications.

Several homeowners have already expressed interest for the program, which would allow residents to make structural safety, energy efficiency and other necessary building upgrades.

The loan program could provide momentum to improve other parts of Bemidji, and in turn, increase quality of life throughout the First City on the Mississippi.