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BEMIDJI -- He said he wouldn't let himself reach 250 pounds. But once he hit 250, he pledged to never hit 270. Upon doing that, he swore he wouldn't let himself reach 300. "And like a thief in the night, I got to 435 pounds," said O'Neal Hampton, the keynote speaker of the 2013 Women's Expo. Tickets to the Expo, to be held Sept. 7 at the Sanford Center, are $6 in advance or $10 at the door. Hampton became a household name three years ago as the Minnesota man joined his daughter, SunShine, on the ninth season of NBC's "The Biggest Loser."
BEMIDJI -- An 11-year-old girl has spent about seven years raising funds and awareness for a variety of efforts. SierraRose Sypult's latest venture is to raise enough funds to buy bullet-proof vests for Kayos and Jessie, Beltrami County's two K-9 police dogs. "It really saddens me to see a fallen hero pass away because the K-9 was not wearing the proper protection," she wrote in an email to the Pioneer.
BEMIDJI -- Today marks move-in day for Bemidji State University, when hundreds of students begin settling into their dorm rooms. For some students, though, they've been planning and prepping for this day for weeks. More than 100 BSU students are serving this year as RAs (resident assistants) or PAAs (peer academic assistants), working to help fellow students succeed socially and academically while living on campus.
After hiking in the Bavarian Alps and camping throughout Europe, the highlight of a Bemidji couple's recent excursion was a daylong visit to the Czech Republic. Jim and Joy Wheeler spent one day touring historic Bohemia, visiting places where Joy's ancestors lived before emigrating to America. "The best part of the whole trip was when we got to the house where her aunt was born, and the genealogist unfurled this sign, 'Welcome home,' and to just see Joy (react), it was the best part of the whole trip," Jim said.
BEMIDJI -- A new chicken-wings restaurant is coming to Bemidji. Hurricane Grill & Wings is planned to open at 100 Paul Bunyan Drive SW, the site of the former south Burger King, according to a California-based public relations firm. This marks the second chicken-wings restaurant to be announced for Bemidji in the past four months, following the April news from Milo Holderbecker that a Buffalo Wild Wings would open at 225 Paul Bunyan Drive NW, the site of the former standalone Thrifty White Drug.
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji School Board welcomed a new elementary principal to the district Monday evening as it also reconnected with a former teacher now hired as the new assistant principal at Bemidji High School. Jason Lutsik, a native of Mahnomen who most recently was an elementary principal in the Staples-Motley School District, has been hired as the Lincoln Elementary principal. Ranae Seykora, who from 1998 to 2009 taught in the Bemidji School District, also serving as a diving coach, has returned to the district, now as an assistant principal at Bemidji High School.
BEMIDJI -- Bullying is an epidemic that continues growing and mutating, now skewing younger, becoming meaner and spreading electronically, an anti-bullying advocate said Thursday while visiting Bemidji. "The virus grows in an environment of indifference," said Rick Phillips, executive director and founder of Community Matters, a California-based nonprofit that developed the Safe Schools Ambassador program. "If we have bystanderism as a native value, this virus will only continue to grow.
BEMIDJI -- It took 9-year-old Denali Dean 22 seconds to dribble a soccer ball around eight poles, pass it twice to himself and then power it through a small goal. "It's going pretty good so far," said Denali, who typically plays forward, upon finishing the drill. Dozens of local soccer players like Denali spent a few hours Wednesday at Concordia Language Villages, participating in the first-ever local Bayern München soccer challenge.
BEMIDJI -- The school district is expecting a decrease of nearly $600,000 in its local property tax levy for 2014-15, thanks to changes enacted last session by the state Legislature. The Bemidji school board on Monday will be asked to formalize actions that should result in decrease in the local property-tax levy by $591,715, according to Chris Leinen, director of business services. The Legislature made two major changes in referendum formulas and their approval processes, which will result in the local tax-levy savings by providing additional state aid.
BEMIDJI -- Extracurriculars can help keep students in school and also provide an incentive for stronger academic performance, activity directors told the Bemidji school board in a Monday evening work session. "We want kids participating, we want them finding an activity through which they can meet some new friends, and find them a group to hang out with that hopefully keeps them out of trouble," said Brandon Bjerkness, activities director at Bemidji Middle School.