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 Bemidji Fire Department has been in need of a backup generator for years, but the July 2 windstorm showed how urgent that need was. During that storm, straight-line winds in excess of 80 mph knocked down thousands of trees and numerous power lines in the region. The fire station downtown was without power for five to six hours, said Fire Chief Dave Hoefer. During that time, they turned to their portable generator, which can only power essential things like communications, air compressors and basic lighting.
BEMIDJI – The Bemidji Fire Department announced that its ISO rating has improved, which could be good news for people buying insurance in the area. The department’s rating for properties beyond 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant but within five road miles of a fire station improved from a class nine to a class seven. That new rating will be effective starting in April 2013. The Public Protection Classification Program ratings go from one to 10 with one being the best.
BEMIDJI – Construction is up significantly in Bemidji, a sign to some that the economy is on the right track. According to the city building department’s monthly construction reports, $34.8 million worth of construction has happened in the city so far this year, compared to the $16 million that happened in the first 11 months of 2011. “I actually think that’s the beginning of the sign of some real improvement in the economy,” said Greater Bemidji Executive Director Dave Hengel.
BEMIDJI – State Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, was named House Majority Whip Friday. In that role, Persell will help House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul in leading the House majority caucus. “John is deeply committed to seeing Minnesota succeed – in Greater Minnesota and in every region,” said House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, in a statement. “The perspective John brings to our leadership team will better enable us to move forward in a way that makes Minnesota prosperous throughout the state.”
BEMIDJI – Cass Lake schools were closed Friday due to rumors of potential violence circulating social media. The school district’s superintendent Anita Grace said school leadership made the decision Thursday afternoon. After-school activities were canceled Thursday and Friday as well. “We just weren’t prepared to have every school building be identical with their safety and security measures due to an investigation in a neighboring community,” Grace said.
BEMIDJI — Plans to reconstruct the driveway entrance to Walmart passed the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Commission Thursday night.
BEMIDJI – Rumors of possible violence at a school in the area circulated social media Thursday, but no credible threat has been found. Bemidji police Sgt. Dave Hanson said Thursday evening that authorities weren’t able to determine the source of the rumors. “We spent the day trying to track down the source and we weren’t able to find any credible source of any specific threat or incident,” Hanson said. Still, District 31 Superintendent Jim Hess said there will be added security Friday at area schools.
BEMIDJI – A housing redevelopment project in the Nymore neighborhood will not be going forward for 2013.
BEMIDJI – Some changes to the driveway entrance to the Bemidji Walmart could be on the way.
BEMIDJI – The Bemidji City Council approved its 2013 budget and property tax levy during its last meeting of the year Monday night.