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—Roughly 128 miles of an all-terrain vehicle trail system is in the process of getting officially put on the books by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The Timber Riders ATV Club, in partnership with Beltrami County, is working with the DNR to become part of the grant-in-aid funding program for addition to the state's trail system.
BEMIDJI—Just two months after the state Office of Administrative Hearings wrapped up a series of Bemidji campaign finance cases from the 2018 election, another has made its way onto the docket. Bemidji resident Mike Smith filed a campaign practices and finance complaint on March 8 against Mayor Rita Albrecht regarding her 2018 re-election campaign. In the 2018 election, Albrecht earned a fourth term, defeating Joe Vene.
BEMIDJI—Local obligations for a Bemidji veterans home have been met by project proponents and the proposal will now go on to the federal government for final approval. Veteran homes are built nationwide using a funding formula wherein local and state entities cover 35 percent of the cost and the federal government pays the other 65 percent. The state Legislature already set aside $12.4 million for a Bemidji home in 2018 and on Tuesday, Beltrami County commissioners learned the total amount raised at the local level was $2.3 million.
BEMIDJI—The Bemidji City Council is now the 24th local government unit in Minnesota to raise the tobacco buying age from 18 to 21. In a 5-1 vote Monday night, the council approved an ordinance change in the works since January. With the passage, officials said the change will be effective late next month. "What we do is publish a summary form in the paper and 30 days after that, it becomes effective," City Manager Nate Mathews said. "April 19 is the date we're looking at for it to take effect."
BEMIDJI—A comprehensive plan for the region several years in the making was adopted Wednesday by the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board. Work on the document began in 2011, but was put on hiatus for several years. The plan includes strategies for the future of both Bemidji and Northern Township, where the JPB has authority related to zoning, planning and variances.
BEMIDJI—More than 300 area residents took part in Township Tuesday this year. Every March, many of Minnesota's 1,781 townships hold a meeting to elect officers and voice opinions and ideas on local issues. The annual event has come to be known as Township Tuesday and in Beltrami County, more than 300 people got involved. During the many meetings across the county Tuesday, both incumbents and new candidates won positions in several local townships: • Alaska Township had nine voters who re-elected Chair Tom Adam and Treasurer Pam Kaasa.
BEMIDJI—A 25-year-old Lancaster, Minn., man has been charged with two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct after allegedly traveling to Blackduck to have sex with an underage girl. Cody Bernhardt is being held at the Beltrami County Jail on one count of third degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of engaging in electronic communication relating or describing sexual conduct with a child. According to court documents, both charges stem from an investigation in Blackduck.
BEMIDJI—It's not over yet. On Wednesday evening another winter weather system is expected to sweep across much of North Dakota and northern Minnesota, bringing a mix of snow, rain and sleet. The storm is expected to bring between 2 to 8 inches of snow in Bemidji with wind gusts up to 40 mph in some areas "It's a pretty potent, early spring system," said Vince Godon, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, which covers the Bemidji area.
Even though my prediction for "Roma" to win the Academy Award for Best Picture wasn't right, the film from Netflix still had a golden night, taking home prizes including Best Director. Not everyone was happy about the foreign language film having so much success on Oscar night, though. Most notably, Steven Spielberg, the Academy's Director Branch governor, had called the eligibility of Netflix films into question. Because Netflix is primarily a streaming service, Spielberg thinks their films should be more compatible for the Emmys, rather than the Oscars.
BEMIDJI—The Bemidji Public Library operates with an open door policy, welcoming people in to use a variety of services. In 2018, the library had nearly 200,000 visitors walk through its doors, and the result is a busy community center posing its share of challenges to the staff at times. According to Branch Manager Sherilyn Brumback, the library uses an electronic counter at the entrance to track the number of visitors, with between 500 and 800 people coming through daily. For 2018, Brumback said 195,655 people walked through the doors.