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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BEMIDJI—When it comes to finances, Beltrami County is in dire straits. Because of the ever growing cost related to the county's Health and Human Services Department's foster care work, the county is seeing its fund balance dwindle. In recent weeks, county officials have started referring to the situation as a "fiscal cliff."
BEMIDJI—A heavily used bridge over the Mississippi River is open again after a renovation project finished ahead of schedule. Repairs on the bridge's deck, railing and substructure elements began July 9, with several of the components replaced. Additionally, the $300,000 project added pavement to the bridge, located east of Lake Bemidji and west of Lake Avenue Northeast. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Area Supervisor David Schotzko said the bridge was the latest in a series of rehabilitation projects in the region.
BEMIDJI—The Bemidji City Council authorized on Monday the Fire Department to purchase a new ladder truck to replace an aging vehicle. The Fire Department requested to buy a stock truck from MacQueen Emergency Group for $946,903 to replace the 1992 ladder truck, which will be sold once the new equipment is in service. According to Fire Chief Dave Hoefer, the current truck needs replacing because of age, lack of adequate ladder length and ongoing maintenance.
BEMIDJI -- The makings of a new chapter in Bemidji’s economic development took shape Monday, as business officials and community leaders broke ground on a new facility for Delta Dental of Minnesota. When completed in September 2019, the new operations and technology center will house up to 150 employees. The company is expected to be a top 10 employer in Bemidji, with employee wages to range from $15 to $33 per hour, officials said.
BLACKDUCK -- A group of incumbents on the Blackduck City Council are running for office again to continue their service in local government. For the mayoral race, incumbent Rudy Patch is running for reelection against current Blackduck City Council member Jason Kolb. Patch won the mayor position in 2016, succeeding Daryl Lundberg.
BEMIDJI—With the primaries now in the rearview, the Minnesota Republican Party is looking ahead to November's General Election. However, party officials say the strategy won't change. At the Beltrami County Republican Lincoln-Reagan Dinner on Wednesday evening in Bemidji, state party Chair Jennifer Carnahan said the GOP will continue into the General Election with all systems go.
Misdemeanors, ordinance violations in Bemidji will go through City Hall; felonies will remain with county
BEMIDJI—Four candidates remain in two races for seats on the Bemidji City Council and Beltrami County Board after Tuesday's Primary Election narrowed the field. In the citywide primary for an at-large seat on the council, Don Heinonen and Jim Thompson advanced to the Nov. 6 election, earning 569 votes and 485 votes respectively. The third candidate in the race, Lawrence Hanenberger, finished with 336 votes. Heinonen's largest number of votes came from Bemidji Ward 5, with 185. Thompson, meanwhile, had a good showing in Ward 2, taking in 118 votes.
BEMIDJI—Minnesota's primary election is Tuesday and regionally it will have an impact on every level of government. Along with races on both sides of the aisle for state and national positions are primaries to narrow the amount of candidates running for city and county seats. In the city of Bemidji, residents will decide two of three candidates to compete for the at-large council position in November. A race of three will also be narrowed to two for the Beltrami County District 1 seat.
BEMIDJI -- Longtime advocate and perennial candidate for local and state office Laverne “Pedie” Pederson died Friday, Aug. 3, at the age of 58. Those who knew him say his legacy is his activism and his compassion. “He had probably the largest heart of anyone I knew,” Bemidji Woolen Mills owner Bill Batchelder said. “I knew Laverne, we called him Pedie, my whole adult life. He worked diligently to tell his life story and about the struggles he had.”