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 — Drivers may have noticed smoother traffic on State Highway 197 going through Bemidji recently. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has reprogrammed the traffic system along Bemidji Avenue/State Highway 197 for greater coordination between individual traffic lights. "So, that means that someone traveling along Bemidji Avenue is more likely to receive greens along their route, especially during peak times in the morning and afternoon, which keeps the mainline traffic moving as efficiently as possible," MnDOT public affairs coordinator TJ Melcher wrote in an email
BEMIDJI — Toasty Beaver’s Sports Bar and Grill closed for two days last week as a self-imposed sanction for its cooking grease ending up in the city’s stormwater drain. According to a letter from the bar’s attorney provided by city attorney Al Felix, the bar closed on June 17-18. It had already agreed to pay for the cleanup costs, which ended up being almost $16,000. Toasty Beaver’s will also perform frequent cleanup of the public area outside the bar, the letter said.
BEMIDJI — The artist who will craft the new Chief Bemidji statue is in town this week to work out some of the project’s finer details. Standing next to the current statue Monday on the Lake Bemidji waterfront, Washington-based sculptor Gareth Curtiss said some final issues, like the new statue’s exact location and which way he will face, still have to be worked out. “We hope to get really close this week after Gareth’s visit,” said Sandy Kaul, co-chairwoman of the Chief Bemidji statue committee. “They need these details in order to construct the platform,” added Carolyn Jacobs, a
Police Report The Bemidji Police Department responded to the following calls: Property 2:04 p.m. Thursday. A handgun that was stolen from Lake Sports in 1997 was recovered on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. Theft 11:55 a.m. Thursday, 2900 block of Irvine Avenue Northwest. A bank bag with garage sale money was stolen from a vehicle. Sheriff’s Report
By Justin Glawe and John Hageman PARK RAPIDS — A man who police say had a questionable explanation for his actions during a house fire in Lake Hattie Township on May 31 was arraigned on murder charges Friday after being arrested in St. Paul. Fredrick William Bachman, 26, of Laporte, is accused of killing 57-year-old James Schwartzbauer that day or the day before, but it’s not clear if he set the fire that destroyed the house.
BEMIDJI — Hundreds of firefighters from across the state will converge at the Sanford Center this weekend. They’ll be here for the annual Minnesota State Fire Department Association conference. More than 300 firefighters, more than 200 of their spouses, will be in town for the event, said Bemidji Fire Department Chief Dave Hoefer. The weekend will include several public events, such as a street dance and fundraiser, a memorial service and a parade.
BEMIDJI — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued a notice of violation to a local bar accused of dumping its cooking grease down city stormwater drains. The MPCA recently issued Toasty Beaver’s Sports Bar and Grill the notice after city employees found evidence that grease had been discharged into the drain behind the bar in early April.
BEMIDJI — The long-term effects of the settlement between the city of Bemidji and Bemidji Township have yet to be seen. But it’s already having an impact on the governing body that makes planning and zoning decisions for three local governments. John Steffenhagen, the Edina-based attorney for Bemidji Township, said township board members aren’t participating on the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board, where they have two seats.
BEMIDJI — Northern Township board supervisors want to talk to their joint planning partners. Board supervisors asked their legal counsel Jason Kuboushek about the ramifications of the city and Bemidji Township’s mediated settlement agreement, and their options going forward, during a work session Monday night. The mediated agreement allows Bemidji Township to leave the annexation and joint powers agreements the three governmental bodies adopted in 2004. While the settlement itself has been approved by the city and Bemidji Township, Northern Township still would have to approve ame
BEMIDJI —A new apartment building is slated for the city’s south shore. A Grand Forks, N.D., developer will pay the city of Bemidji about $350,000 for a piece of land near the Sanford Center, contingent on the signing of a negotiated purchase and development agreements. Representatives of Northridge Hospitality Management came before the Bemidji Economic Development Authority on Monday night with their proposal. They anticipate constructing a four-story building with 50 to 60 units, mixing efficiency, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.