Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.
- Member for
- 3 years 6 months
The Academy Awards are just three weeks away, and with the ceremony right around the corner, a race for one of the most prestigious Oscar categories might already be over. The category is Best Director and Alfonso Cuaron is the heavy favorite in the final stretch for his movie “Roma.” This week, in my second of four Academy prediction columns, I’ll give more context on the matter, plus some other award guesses.
BEMIDJI—The next steps are underway for a new, 32-unit supportive housing development in Bemidji. At Tuesday's Beltrami County Commission meeting, Mary Thompson, operations director for the Headwaters Regional Development Commission, said the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency has approved an application for funding to construct 32 supportive housing units. The 32 units will be constructed in four buildings and will be called Conifer Villas, named after Conifer Avenue where they'll be built on the west side of the city.
BEMIDJI—One of Bemidji's busiest thoroughfares is only expected to get busier in the next decade. On a daily basis, the stretch of state Highway 197 between Bemidji Avenue and the area just west of U.S. Highway 71 handles up to 16,000 vehicles. By 2030, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is expecting between 12,500 and 20,500 vehicles per day on that road. To handle the expected growth in traffic, MnDOT officials are in the early planning stages for a reconstruction project within the next five to eight years.
BEMIDJI—In January, Beltrami County became the one of the latest government units to raise the buying age to 21 for tobacco and tobacco/vaping products. The city of Bemidji soon could be following in those footsteps. When it comes to licensing retailers to sell tobacco products, the city of Bemidji and Beltrami County act as separate authorities. The Bemidji government licenses tobacco retailers within the city limits, while Beltrami offices license sellers across the rest of the county, except on American Indian reservations.
BEMIDJI—To ensure retailers, consumers and the general public are properly informed, Beltrami County will wait until May to increase the legal tobacco buying age to 21. Implementing the ordinance change, known as Tobacco 21, was the main topic of discussion at Tuesday's County Board of Commissioners meeting. Commissioners voted Jan. 22 to raise the legal age to buy tobacco and tobacco products to 21 in the county. The ordinance also covers electronic delivery devices, such as those used for vaping.
BEMIDJI—A community committee will now take the helm on a possible hospitality tax in Bemidji, with a longshot chance that a proposal may go before the state Legislature this session. On Monday, the City Council approved the forming of the committee, and tasked it with bringing forth a well-rounded proposal to the council. The intention is to let the public and civic and business leaders drive the decision-making process.
BEMIDJI—The waste transfer station in Beltrami County and others in the region are operating with more efficiencies lately. Some of those improvements the public will notice, while others might be harder to find. In summer 2017, Beltrami County finalized a purchase with Waste Management for two transfer stations in Bemidji and Blackduck for $1.85 million. In the months since, several upgrades have been completed with the intention to ensure a 20-year lifespan, which is a requirement of the state government, which assisted in covering the $3.8 million remodel cost.
Award season has only a few weeks left and that means the race for the ultimate prize is heating up. The ultimate prize is, of course, an Academy Award, and over the next four weeks, I'll be breaking down who will likely win an Oscar, and who I thought missed out on a nomination. First up are the four acting categories. Lead Actor The nominees: • Christian Bale in "Vice." • Bradley Cooper in "A Star is Born." • Willem Dafoe in "At Eternity's Gate." • Rami Malek in "Bohemian Rhapsody." • Viggo Mortensen in "Green Book."
CASS LAKE—Top officials in the state Department of Education met with Leech Lake Tribal College students and staff Friday to learn about the issues, along with discovering some new ideas. During the interactive session, Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker and Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson addressed several topics related to school curriculum as well as how the K-12 and higher education can work more closely together.
BEMIDJI—Beltrami County is no stranger to severe weather. Just last year, a tornado ripped through the county seat in Bemidji on the Fourth of July. That came on the heels of several storms moving through the region. So, to better prepare for these types of events, and mitigate potential hazards in the future, Beltrami County drafts a multi-hazard mitigation plan with an outlook of five years.