Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.
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BENA -- Inside a room in the new Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School, you can hear the sound of mechanical units operating the heating, air conditioning and other electrical components. For John Parmeter, it’s music to his ears. Construction is almost finished on the 45,000 square-foot building that will replace the former high school plagued by a laundry list of structural and mechanical problems that garnered regional and national attention.
BEMIDJI -- After a lifetime of public service in Minnesota, Keith Winger is ready to retire.
BEMIDJI—Fire protection services in and around Bemidji will expand next year with a new station and an increase in staff. At its Monday meeting, the Bemidji City Council authorized Fire Chief Dave Hoefer to lease a building in Northern Township and recruit eight additional firefighters to the agency. The decision to move into a new building north of the city was made jointly with the Bemidji Rural Fire Association.
BEMIDJI—Unlike the last legislative session, a bonding bill passed in the late hours includes funding for Bemidji projects, including a new building at BSU and a future veterans home to serve the area. With the session winding down Sunday night, the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Senate passed a bonding bill with $825 million for public works construction projects. The legislation passed the Senate in a 42-25 vote and was then returned to the House, where it was approved 113-13.
BEMIDJI—The Bemidji Fire Department is planning to expand north to better serve the Greater Bemidji population of 35,000. The Bemidji City Council will hear a request Monday from the fire department to lease a building in Northern Township, which would be the home to a fourth fire station. The recommendation is based on long range planning by the fire department and the Bemidji Rural Fire Association.
BEMIDJI—In the wake of an audit regarding potential fraud by the Sanford Center's former executive director, the city of Bemidji says it is taking steps to ensure it never happens again. City officials also said they are working with the facility's management company on possibly pursuing criminal action against Curtis Webb. The city received an audit report from the Minnesota State Auditor's Office on Friday, May 11, which detailed misuse of public funds by Webb, who headed the Bemidji event center from late 2012 until April 2016.
BEMIDJI—Area counties are concerned a recent decision by a Minnesota Tax Court regarding Enbridge Energy's oil pipeline system could leave them paying out potentially large refunds to the company. On Tuesday, tax court Judge Joanne Turner ruled the Minnesota Department of Revenue had overvalued Enbridge's pipeline system that runs through 13 Minnesota counties by $3.2 billion from 2012-2014. While pipelines are assessed by the state, tax proceeds go to the counties. As a result, there's a potential the counties may have to refund large sums of money to Enbridge.
BEMIDJI—A new report from the Minnesota State Auditor's Office shows a misuse of funds of more than $100,000 by the former executive director of the city-owned Sanford Center. In report sent to the city on Friday, May 11, the state said Curtis Webb, who helmed the Bemidji event center from late 2012 until April 2016, made a misuse of public funds in the amount of $110,681. That misuse included improper payments made directly to Webb; Webb using city funds for non-business items, and payments made by Webb that had little to no documentation.
BEMIDJI -- The paving of a gravel road in Turtle River Township was the subject of a lengthy discussion for Beltrami County Commissioners on Tuesday. The discussion was a follow-up to an earlier meeting where residents raised concerns about the status of County Road 57, which is located near areas where gravel is mined. Homeowners at the May 1 meeting said trucks hauling gravel from several gravel pits create large amounts of dust and lead to the deterioration of the road.
BEMIDJI—Reconstruction work is underway on an intersection connecting U.S. Highway 2 and Cass County Road 75 to improve safety and reduce fatal crashes. On Monday, a project to transition the highway crossing to a reduced conflict intersection (RCI) was started. According to TJ Melcher, a Minnesota Department of Transportation public affairs representative, the spot was selected by the state agency because of its heavy use.