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 — Walter Hartell had been in a state of semi-retirement. The Tenstrike resident has danced for almost all of his 62 years, but hadn't been teaching or coaching for about 10 years. He sold the chain of dance studios he franchised in order to care for his daughter after a traffic accident left her with a traumatic brain injury. He returned to the ballroom dancing competition floor last year. And he only did it, he said, because he found somebody who has the same passion for dance he does.
BEMIDJI -- A bridge spanning U.S. Highway 2 should be reopen by this morning after being struck by a semi truck last month. Traffic on the 15th Street bridge, which has been closed since July 13 when the semi carrying an overhead load struck the beams under the structure, will be restricted to the north side of the overpass. Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman TJ Melcher said it will remain restricted until the bridge is fully repaired next summer. That project will consist of replacing the beams to allow a higher clearance.
BEMIDJI -- A watercraft inspector discovered zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil on a boat trailer exiting Lake Bemidji earlier this month, though they didn't originate here. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made the announcement this week, and called for boaters to be vigilant and clean their boats when transporting them. The recreation boat discovered in the Aug. 2 incident at the Northwoods water access had recently been in Lake Minnetonka, one of the most infested waters in the state.
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji City Council approved a pared-down park improvement project for Paul Bunyan and Library parks Monday night. Parks and recreation director Marcia Larson presented the council with a list of improvements she believes could be made to the park with the $1.4 million the city has at its disposal. That money is split between some remaining half-percent sales tax revenues dedicated to parks and a $750,000 state Legacy grant that will be available in 2015.
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji City Council will discuss next year's budget and funding future park improvements during a work session Monday night. City staff will recommend setting aside $24,000 for an extra staff person at the Bemidji Public Library contingent on Beltrami County support. Also, staff recommends setting aside $20,000 for a possible increase to the city's contribution to the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board.
BEMIDJI -- Local stargazers will have the opportunity to see a meteor shower this weekend. The Perseid meteor shower, named after its supposed origin, the constellation Perseus, will be most visible Sunday night and Monday morning, according to the American Meteor Society. Early Monday morning, they'll be streaking across the sky at a rate of about 60 per hour.
BEMIDJI -- A committee reviewing the design of a Country Inn & Suites connected to the Sanford Center wants more information before approving the project. The South Shore Design Review Committee, which includes city councilors, as well as city and planning staff, met Thursday afternoon with the project's developer and architects. The hotel had gone to the design review committee last year, but some changes to the building's roofline and other features changed since then.
MAHNOMEN -- With the White Earth Nation flag and tribal and state representatives standing behind him, Gov. Mark Dayton signed an executive order Thursday directing state agencies to develop policies to guide them when working with tribal nations. "We are committing that we're going to have government-to-government, equal-to-equal communication," Dayton said in a signing ceremony at the Shooting Star Casino. "That kind of communication and dialogue is so important."
BEMIDJI -- Conservationists and wildlife advocates used dire language Wednesday in describing the threat of Asian carp pose to Minnesota's lakes and rivers. "I see this as a war, with the enemy currently invading our precious waters," Gary Botzek, the director of the Minnesota Conservation Federation said during a conference call. "The general public is very aware of the enemy."
BEMIDJI -- Dean Jacobs has swum with piranhas, visited a sphinx in Egypt and has gone scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. But northern Minnesota will always be a memorable place for the globe-trotter and Nebraska native. "Minnesota was the only place that I went on a family vacation with my family to Otter Tail County," Jacobs said, wearing a tan hiking vest and bandana around his neck. "So I have a nostalgic connection to Minnesota."