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—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.
BEMIDJI—The Cass Lake Superfund site, once home to a wood treatment plant, is on the radar of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. In a recent press release from the EPA, the agency stated that it had developed a list of Superfund sites targeted for immediate, intense action, including the one in Cass Lake. Superfund sites are those containing hazardous substances and pollutants that could harm local ecosystems.
If You Go What: Entrepreneurial training, geared toward veterans Where: The Mayflower Building, 102 First St. W in Bemidji When: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 15 To register: Visit https://sbavets.force.com/s/ BEMIDJI—Greater Bemidji Economic Development's LaunchPad program is planning to help veterans transition from boots to business.
BEMIDJI -- When a new house is constructed by Bi-County Community Action Programs YouthBuild, the benefits are twofold. First, the local housing market has a new house for low-income buyers, and second, numerous individuals have furthered their education.
BEMIDJI -- The major hurdles facing child care providers, as well as those seeking care for their children, remain staffing and affordability. That’s led to a child care shortage across the state, and especially in Greater Minnesota. That was the main theme of a meeting Tuesday in Bemidji put on by the office of Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, who have been traveling the state to discuss challenges for child care across Minnesota.