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Pioneer Cheers & Jeers

Veterans home quest gets traction

The push for a regional veterans home in north central Minnesota is gaining momentum.

The numbers demonstrate a need for a veteran’s home in Bemidji as 3,300 veterans live in Beltrami County. Nearly 16,000 live in the region when you include the nine surrounding counties.

A veterans home based in the area would allow for easier access to care for those Americans who dedicated service to their country.

Earlier this month, Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, renewed his push a regional veterans home by introducing a bill to appropriate $250,000 for pre-design work on a 90-bed nursing facility at the Sanford Bemidji campus.

Last year Sanford Health said it would donate 15 acres south of Sanford’s WoodsEdge Senior Living campus at 1000 Anne St. NW for the home.

The home would not be cheap. Initial estimates put the price tag at about $30 million, but two-thirds of the cost would be covered by the federal government.

Beltrami County Commissioner Joe Vene has spoken passionately for the home, as have several others. There is a need for the home and services for our veterans.

Currently, the closest similar facility in the state are Fergus Falls and Silver Bay. Both are significant drives for care and visiting family members. With the large number of veterans living in the region, and Bemidji growing in importance as a regional hub in many different facets, it makes sense to base a new home in the First City on the Mississippi.

Embracing the chill

Bemidji’s Polar Daze enjoyed a successful and fun start to the annual tradition that reminds us about the unique and beautiful place we call home.

Some jumped into a lake, some went sledding and others participated in a run/walk event.

It’s events and community camaraderie that help make the sometimes bone-chilling cold bearable.

While the cold, ice and snow may be worth celebrating, this week’s weather reminds us winter might be here for a stretch. Stay safe and use caution when out and about.

Time to fix LGA

Since lawmakers are meeting this month in St. Paul, it is worth noting that Minnesota’s Local Government Aid formula has long needed fixing.

Democrats controlling the House and Senate have a chance to correct the problem for cities like Bemidji, which like many regional hubs, is an a disadvantage compared urban counterparts.

An initial Minnesota Department of Revenue estimate released last month shows Bemidji will lose about $135,000 in LGA next year under current law.

Now would be a good time for lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton to address the issue.