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Pioneer Cheers & Jeers for April 23

Blackduck speakers shine at state Congratulations to the Blackduck High School speech team for an outstanding season, capped off with two champions at the Minnesota State High School League Class A competition Saturday in Blaine. Eleven Blackduck students qualified for state, and three of them advanced to the finals.

Matthew Jedlicka captured first place in Serious Interpretation — Drama, and Katie O’Rourke finished first in Serious Interpretation — Prose.

In addition, Blackduck’s Maile Olson took sixth place in Original Oratory.

What a tribute to an outstanding program led by coach Jennifer Parker.

Three other area students made the finals in their categories at state. Sarah Anderson of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley took first place in Informative Speaking and teammates Matthew Koring (third in Humorous Interpretation) and John Murphy (seventh in Serious Interpretation — Prose) also made the finals. Teri Akers of Laporte finished eighth in Great Speeches.

Holding out hope

Saturday’s vigil to bring awareness to sexual assault and violence against women brings attention to a real problem in our community and in the world. But there indeed is hope in the formation of the Beltrami County Domestic Violence Court. Last week Beltrami District Court judges received training in preparation for the opening of the court in October. Congratulations to all who took part in the event at the Lake Bemidji Waterfront.

Illegal fishing

Good undercover work led to charges of illegal fishing activities being filed against 31 people in the region in the last two weeks. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ “Operation Squarehook” was a three-year investigation that put an end to activities that threatened the health of fisheries in northern Minnesota.

Rotarians coming

The Sanford Center will host its largest convention when Rotary District 5580 hosts its annual conference here this week. Nearly 500 people have registered. They’ll be coming from Thunder Bay, Ontario on the east end of the district to Williston, N.D., on the west.

Conference chairman Gary Johnson and Rotary clubs from Bemidji, Fosston, Bagley and Park Rapids have been hard at work for several months to prepare for the event.

Planting seeds

We applaud the Bemidji Community Food Shelf for its plans to establish a community garden. Students with the University of Minnesota College of Design Center for Sustainable Building Research have presented their plan.

Local master gardeners have agreed to assist in the project.

The idea for a community food shelf garden was planted last year as the nonprofit moved into its new site in the Bemidji Industrial Park, which has 4.5 acres of tillable land.

It has been a banner year for the Food Shelf, and this is another sign that it is fulfilling its mission.