Joe Bowen covers education and health for the Bemidji Pioneer.
He is a Minneapolis native and a 2009 graduate of St. John's University. Before moving to Bemidji, Bowen covered education, local politics, crime, and everything in between for the Perham Focus in Perham, Minnesota, and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis.
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BEMIDJI—18-year old Brady Yennie is "nonverbal," but his body language betrayed some excitement as he walked through his family's yard and climbed into their new ATV, courtesy of the the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "He's always liked rides on the wheeler," said Kert Yennie, Brady's father, who said it was tough to figure out what to ask of the foundation. Brady likes movies, his parents said, but doesn't like crowds or leaving the house except for class at Bemidji High School.
BEMIDJI—Bemidji Area Schools' water and sewer system options for its planned Gene Dillon Elementary School may hinge on Beltrami County's roadway improvement plans. The school district has a "Plan B" to construct on-site wells and a septic system, but officials there have said that "Plan A" is municipal sewer and water hookups. Those connections, though, may be reliant on the county re-working Division Street as part of a larger plan that's set to be updated this fall.
BEMIDJI—Bemidji Area Schools' plans to build a new elementary school took another step forward Monday. The Beltrami County Planning Commission voted to approve a conditional use permit and variance for the school district's plans to build Gene Dillon Elementary near the intersection of Division Street and Becida Road. The permit details the conditions the school district must meet to have the county's blessing for the project. Brent Rud, the county's director of environmental services, said most of the stipulations were common to any new construction project.
BEMIDJI—About half a dozen high schoolers heaved a wall frame into place Wednesday, one of the last that circumscribed a new house a few miles south of Bemidji High School, while another gaggle of students hammered wall studs into place in the house's half-finished basement. The students were all enrolled in an advanced construction class at BHS, where school district staff are set to roll out six "Bemidji Career Academies" that let high schoolers dabble in specific trades before they take the plunge into college or the workforce.
BEMIDJI—BSU students and faculty might see a new face in the crowd at football and hockey games or at the campus' historic Kenfield House: Rev. Tim Megorden, whom the university's Lutheran Campus Ministry recently hired to be its new campus pastor. Megorden said his primary duties include "pastoral care" and maintaining an on-campus presence. He hopes to talk about—and listen to—students' struggles and help them consider their options beyond school. Those options aren't just careers, he added.
BEMIDJI—Local education leaders await a decision from the Minnesota Department of Education on a hastily revised "Q Comp" plan after the department approved the school district's original plan more quickly than anticipated. If approved, the new plan—which outlines structures and new staffing for teacher professional development, evaluations, performance pay, and more—would only apportion about two-thirds as much money as the original one.
SOLWAY -- A group of eight Guatemalan state officials toured Minnesotan schools’ food services Monday to get ideas they can implement in their home country, making several stops in the Bemidji area. Bemidji Area Schools district and University of Minnesota staff showed school gardens, “second chance” lunches, a new dinner program and more to representatives from the Guatemala’s ministries of education, finance and agriculture.
BEMIDJI—The Bemidji Area Schools leaders certified on Monday a preliminary levy that's 9.85 percent higher than last year's. At district staff's recommendation, the School Board approved a total maximum levy of $10.84 million, up $972,000 from last year. The board can elect to lower the levy before the state's December deadline, but cannot increase it beyond the amount certified. A truth-in-taxation hearing is scheduled 6 p.m. Dec. 19 at school district headquarters.
BEMIDJI—A Sanford Health support group that helps veterans navigate civilian life will start meeting again this October. Sound Off meets the first and third Tuesday of each month, and members and facilitators there help veterans—who lived regimented, detail-oriented lives for years or sometimes decades—adjust to the freedoms and pitfalls of everyday life outside the armed forces.
BEMIDJI—A crowd of children—and adults—gathered Saturday at Paul Bunyan Park to celebrate World Wide Day of Play, an annual event that encourages kids to get outside and play.