Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and firstname.lastname@example.org. He joined the Herald in April 2013, and previously worked as editor at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and in several roles -- including news director, investigative reporter and crime reporter - at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. His reporting experience includes coverage of Dru Sjodin's disappearance and the federal death penalty case for her murderer, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., along with several investigative projects. In his spare time, Wagner is an avid runner and occasionally writes about his experiences on his blog, Addicted to Running.
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Two separate calls on Christmas Eve led area law enforcement on chases exceeding 100 mph and landed two Bemidji men in jail to face several possible charges. The first call came into dispatchers at 9:16 a.m.
Nicole Rice drove to work Monday morning like most days, heading to her teaching job at Schoolcraft Learning Community. During the drive, though, one of her tires went flat. A stranger soon pulled over to help, going above and beyond simply lending a helping hand. "I feel like in this town if you break down, somebody will stop to help," said Rice, who has taught at the K-8 charter school located at Concordia Language Village.
Local unemployment numbers released Tuesday show a slight increase from October, but there are signs the economy in Bemidji and Beltrami County is improving. The unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in Bemidji and 7 percent in Beltrami County for November, according to statistics from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Those numbers are up from October's unemployment rates of 9.1 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.
After closing to timber deliveries more than three weeks ago, Norbord opened its oriented-strand board plant at Solway to a line of trucks Monday. By midday, the line grew to more than two dozen drivers looking to unload timber. That was up from 12 when the plant opened its gates at 7 a.m. For area logging companies, the reopening came just in time. "We have wood on the ground we are trying to push out," said Dan Lundberg, owner of Lundberg Forest Products. "Everybody is in the same boat. Everyone wants to get in to get a check." The Norbord plant closed Nov.
They're being called Layaway Angels. Anonymous donors walk into a store, typically a Kmart, and pay off a stranger's layaway bill. It's been happening all over the country this Christmas season, and most recently, this weekend in Bemidji. "They don't ask for recognition," said Tim Hayen, manager at the Bemidji Kmart. "Some of these layaways probably would have been returned to stock." Hayen has worked for Kmart for 33 years, including six in Bemidji. He's never seen the Secret Santa spirit spread in quite this way. "I've heard of this in years past but never this widespread," he said.
Readers of the Bemidji Pioneer newspaper and companion website, bemidjipioneer.com, might have noticed a few changes during the past seven weeks. During this time, we've made some tweaks to both media platforms: a shift in news content and focus, more consistently following Associated Press style, greater emphasis in matching art with lead stories, and a cosmetic facelift to the newspaper website, which is updated regularly throughout the workday to add the latest news from around the region and nation. Some of those changes may have been subtle to slip past many readers without much notice.
After 30-plus years, store readies for liquidation sale
Several mail processing centers used to sort mail across the region - including Bemidji's - are among more than 250 on the chopping block next spring under plans by the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service. Four Minnesota centers - Bemidji, Duluth, Rochester and Waite Park - will close, along with a facility in Grand Forks, N.D. And the cuts may not end there. "We don't know if St. Cloud is going to stay open," said Peter Nowacki, a USPS district manager in Minnesota. Previously, a USPS feasibility study supported consolidating sorting operations from Bemidji to St. Cloud.
Two fishermen on Upper Red Lake took an unexpected ride Friday morning - first on an ice block 6 inches thick drifting in 9-feet of water, then in a Bemidji Fire Department hovercraft back to land. The men, Beltrami County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Wherley and Blackduck Police Officer Josh Arhart, were on Upper Red Lake when the ice they were on, about 100 yards from shore, broke away and began drifting. Bemidji firefighters received a call to help at 10:04 a.m., and arrived on scene - northwest of Shotley - at 11:14 a.m. Firefighter Jake Hawley said the crew of four unloaded the hovercraft an
Southside Bemidji residents who relied on Pamida filling their medical prescriptions are going to travel a little further starting in mid-December. Walgreens said it has purchased the Pamida Pharmacy patient files, and starting Dec. 15, will have them in the drug store at 421 Paul Bunyan Drive NW. "We were looking to expand our market," said Robert Elfinger, a corporate spokesman for Walgreens.