Kayla Prasek is a staff writer for Prairie Business magazine. She is a 2014 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Contemporary Media & Journalism and Political Science programs and is originally from Watertown, S.D. She previously was the city reporter at the Watertown Public Opinion.
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BEMIDJI - When the state of Minnesota saw its government shut down in July 2011, Hope House was just one of the entities to feel the effects. "The financial struggles are the hardest," Robin Wold, executive director of Hope House, said. "(The shutdown) resulted in a lack of service for 75 people for 40 days. The drop-in center was closed from July to October. Many people went to the hospital." The cost to taxpayers for those hospital stays was approximately $1,100 per person per day.
WILLIAMS - She wasn't raised on a farm and didn't know anything about crops. But after Lauren Stai, a 2008 Bemidji High School graduate, interned as a crop scout in high school, she realized she had a passion for agronomy. "I realized I really enjoyed being out in the field," Stai said. "I knew I would be good at anything hands on and being outside sounded good to me.
BEMIDJI - One never experienced severe depression until it took over her life. The other says she suffered from it her whole life but went undiagnosed. Leann Dorr, 50, and Lori Sorsoleil, 50, both suffer from mental illness but through the Hope House have learned to take back control of their lives. Dorr, a single mom of two children with special needs, relied on her mom for help, but when her mom passed away in 2005, Dorr says she was pushed over the edge into major depression. "I felt like I hit rock bottom," Dorr says. "She was my biggest support system.
CASS LAKE - To build their now 3-year-old home, Milt and Jamie Lee went back to the earth. The Lees' straw bale home will be one of seven homes featured in the 2012 Bemidji Sustainable Homes Tour. The tour, sponsored by the Bemidji Sustainability Committee, will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. "Our goal was to build our home with no concrete," Jamie Lee said. The home sits on an earth bag foundation. It was then built using a pole structure frame to hold the steel roof up, and straw bales were stacked to build the walls.
BEMIDJI - Representatives from across the renewable energy industry in Minnesota gathered Tuesday in Bemidji. The Minnesota Renewable Energy Roundtable met at the Sanford Center to discuss the future of renewable energy in rural areas. LeAnn Oliver, senior advisor for clean energy and rural development with the U.S.
BEMIDJI - There is still space for vendors at the Beltrami County Fair. The fair will be held Aug. 8-12 at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds in Bemidji. "It always gets close and people think we don't have room for them," Joe Waslaski, space rental manager for the fair, said. There are still five booths available inside and plenty of space in the outside vendor area, Waslaski said.
BEMIDJI - As vendors from all over the United States peddled their pottery, jewelry, photographs and paintings, Virgene Tyrrell sat in her tent enjoying the breeze off Lake Bemidji as passersby checked out her mosaics. Art in the Park, now in its 45th year, started Saturday and will continue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today in Library Park. Tyrrell runs Tumbled Glass Studio and is showing her mosaics for the first time at Art in the Park. "I've shopped here for several years," Tyrrell said.
BEMIDJI - Growing up, Erik Jensen liked to sit under the white pine tree that stood at the end of his family's driveway. Now, that 150-year-old tree lies across the Jensens' driveway. "When I was little, those two big white pines were my favorite trees," Jensen said. "It's too bad to lose that tree. At least we still have the one by the house." That tree was one of the first things Chuck and Kris Jensen saw when they looked at the home on 23rd Street Southeast 20 years ago. "The biggest thing for us is the loss of that big white pine," Chuck Jensen said.
BEMIDJI - Pre-school expansion and the Guthrie school forest are on the school board's agenda for their upcoming meeting. The Bemidji Area Schools Board of Education will hold its monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bemidji High School Media Center. Among the points of interest on the agenda include information about pre-school expansion and the plan for the Guthrie school forest. "The forest received significant tree damage from the last storm," said Chris Leinen, the district's director of business services.
BEMIDJI - After nearly having to close its doors at the end of 2011, the Beltrami Humane Society is still operating on a week-to-week basis. The Beltrami Humane Society faced a $40,000 budget shortfall last November, which they ultimately met, so doors could stay open. Brandon Mustful took over as director June 5 after the Humane Society had been without a director since September. In the first six weeks Mustful has been at the Humane Society, he said he's noticed a problem of perception with the public. "We get several calls every day with people calling about stray or unwanted animals,"