John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.
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BEMIDJI — The state Senate’s passage of the gay marriage bill Monday didn’t make marriage any less of a personal decision for Emily Papke-Larson and her partner Emily Powers. But, the Bemidji couple who have been together for the past five years, said they’re happy to have that option available to them and gay and lesbian couples across the state. “The trajectory of our relationship is more personal than what happens in the Legislature,” Papke-Larson said.
BEMIDJI —Toasty Beaver’s Sports Bar and Grill could still be assessed penalties for its cooking grease ending up in the city’s stormwater system. City attorney Al Felix said last week that city staff is still determining what penalties they may pursue. That could include a fine, or at the most severe, a revocation of the establishment’s liquor license. "Those are the things the city will have to consider," Felix said. Any action with the bar’s liquor license, however, would have to come from the city council, Felix said.
BEMIDJI —A spark or a hot muffler. That’s all it takes in these dry conditions to ignite a grass fire. On Friday, it was a spark caused by people cutting scrap metal on Lakeview Drive that started a grass fire, prompting a response from the Bemidji Fire Department and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Thursday night, a similar scene played out on Rodeo Drive in Northern Township.
BEMIDJI — Preliminary construction of townhomes northeast of the Sanford Center will start Friday after the developers closed on the land deal Thursday morning. B&B Enterprises LLC, operated by Bob Whelan and Brian Freeberg, plans on building 30 townhome-style units on the 6.5 acre plot of land on the south shore of Lake Bemidji.
BEMIDJI — A historic vote to legalize gay marriage passed the state House Thursday afternoon with two local DFL legislators — Reps. John Persell of Bemidji and Roger Erickson of Baudette —voting yes. Persell delivered a passionate speech on the House floor during the debate, ultimately asking his fellow members to support the bill. It had been unclear, at least publicly, how Persell would vote in days leading up to Thursday.
Lisa Carlson, director of planning regulation at Sanford Health Plan, talks Wednesday morning with about 50 business owners at the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University about upcoming changes to health insurance. Among the topics of discussion were President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, as well as Minnesota’s health care marketplace, dubbed MNSure, which will launch in October. John Hageman | Bemidji Pioneer
BEMIDJI — A new way to stay in shape will be coming to North Country Park this summer. The Bemidji City Council on Monday approved the purchase of more than $11,000 worth of outdoor exercise equipment for the park, located on 30th Street Northwest. That will include an elliptical machine, fitness bike, chest press, waist twister and a Thai Chi spinner —several rotary wheels designed to improve shoulder arm and elbow flexibility.
BEMIDJI — The city of Bemidji says the significant amount of grease cleaned out of its stormwater system last month was the result of it being illegally dumped there by Toasty Beaver’s Sports Bar and Grill. But the attorney for the bar, located at 114 Third Street Northwest, said any grease that ended up in the system was not put there intentionally, despite eyewitness accounts alleging otherwise.
BEMIDJI —A water main break near the Bemidji State University campus temporarily closed the road above Tuesday. The break was reported Tuesday morning on 23rd Street Northeast, and by 10:30 a.m., crews were digging up the street. The road was closed between Birchmont Drive Northeast and Calihan Avenue Northeast.
BEMIDJI —Upstream TV will soon have new equipment. The Bemidji City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve almost $20,000 worth of new equipment for the nonprofit public access station. Representatives from Upstream went before the city’s Public Affairs Committee on April 15, where the committee recommended the council approve the request. The equipment request included a new camera, editing computers, microphones and a tripod.