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 -- Minnesota's newly created health exchanged unveiled its ad campaign Sunday, with a couple of recognizable figures as its stars. The MNsure ads feature Bemidji's Paul Bunyan statue getting into various dilemmas that would require the legendary giant to visit the hospital, such as a water skiing accident and woodpeckers attacking his head while Babe the Blue Ox looks on.
BEMIDJI -- The City Councilon Monday will consider entering into a contract with Honeywell to recommend energy saving options for the city. The city will spend $56,000 to complete an audit of city-owned buildings and "to determine current energy consumption as well as projected saving assuming energy reducing projects are completed," city finance director Ron Eischens wrote in a memo to the council. "Once the audit is completed, Honeywell will work with city staff to prepare energy saving projects for council approval," he added.
BEMIDJI — Like most dilemmas facing city governments, money is the main obstacle standing in the way of redevelopment. But the south shore project in Bemidji has a couple of twists. City councilors say that a promise, whether implicit or explicit, was made to residents that a new beach would be created on the south shore of Lake Bemidji. That, and the fact that the swimming beach may not stay clean once it's cleared of debris and wood chips complicates the project. "To me it's just a really sticky situation," Councilor Reed Olson said.
BEMIDJI — The Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board approved several variances requested by Lakeland Public Television ahead of construction of its new facility on the south shore. Bill Sanford, Lakeland general manager, confirmed the approval Thursday and said they are in the process of working out some technicalities with the state of Minnesota. He declined to say when construction might begin, citing the complex nature of the project. "This is not a simple bonding project," Sanford said.
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.