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 — A regional pizza restaurant chain appears to be making another run at buying land on the south shore of Lake Bemidji. Zorbaz on the Lake founder Tom Hanson is scheduled to present the Bemidji Economic Development Authority with a proposal Monday night, according to the meeting agenda. A portion of the meeting is scheduled to be closed for city councilors to discuss negotiations for the city-owned land.
BEMIDJI — Helga Township is asking that a lawsuit filed against it by a Bemidji nonprofit be dismissed. Kenneth Bayliss, a St. Cloud-based attorney, filed a response in Hubbard County District Court on behalf of Helga Township on Wednesday. That response denies the allegations that the township board used “arbitrary” findings of fact to reject the Restore House’s conditional use permit application.
BEMIDJI — The protest over the handful of acres of Red Lake Indian Reservation land is catching environmental activists’ eyes across the state. On Wednesday, about 30 people, who ranged from concerned citizens to nonprofit representatives, arrived in a coach bus at a campsite in rural Clearwater County. There, protesters have stayed for months in opposition to the four Enbridge Energy pipelines underground they say are there illegally.
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.