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—While the Bemidji City Council and many municipal departments take a meeting hiatus over the holidays, construction is scheduled to make City Hall more ADA friendly. More specifically, crews will work to build a new ramp and provide more space on the dais where the City Council desk is located in council chambers. According to Bemidji City Manager Nate Mathews, the move will help make the council chambers more accessible for At Large City Councilor-elect Jim Thompson, who uses a wheelchair.
BEMIDJI—The Bemidji City Council authorized staff Thursday to begin meeting capital improvement needs at the Sanford Center for 2019. The work session was a follow-up to a request the city made to VenuWorks, the management company contracted to operate the city-owned facility, for a complete report on capital needs at the Sanford Center, including those required immediately and years in the future. In response, VenuWorks drafted a capital improvements request with improvements costing $1.5 million.
BEMIDJI—Owners of Ruttger's Birchmont Lodge and the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board on Wednesday resolved a months-long issue about upgrades to the longtime vacation spot. Mark and Karrie Nelson, who purchased Ruttger's in February, went before the board at its monthly meeting Wednesday to discuss their after-the-fact variance request, which would allow construction of a roof pitch increase. The variance is required as the property operates commercially and is located in a suburban residential zoning district, meaning it's non-conforming.
BEMIDJI—The city-owned Sanford Center is nearing a decade in operation and several replacement and upgrade needs are reportedly right around the corner. On Thursday, the Bemidji City Council will hear a presentation from city staff and Sanford Center Executive Director Jeff Kossow on what those needs look like in 2019 and beyond. "A few months ago we asked VenuWorks to provide a layout of the capital needs of the facility many years out, going ahead 50 years, as well as a short-term look, with some immediate needs," City Manager Nate Mathews said.
BEMIDJI—Following a public hearing and commissioner concerns, the Beltrami County Board decided Tuesday to rework an ordinance that raises the legal age to buy tobacco products. The ordinance would raise the buying age for tobacco products to 21. It was introduced during a meeting in late November and on Tuesday, the public was offered an opportunity to speak on the law. Several local health officials approached the board Tuesday to offer support for the ordinance, citing its health benefits.
BEMIDJI—On a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners adopted both the 2019 budget and tax levy, which carries a 5.83 percent increase from 2018.
BEMIDJI—Evolve Creative is hosting a workshop Tuesday to help show local businesses how to sell their products online more efficiently. From noon to 1 p.m., the workshop will show business owners and marketing professionals how to set up online stores and sell products via websites. The hour-long session will also train attendees how to set up online shopping carts for their websites.
Gift shopping and travel aren't the only things making this time of year busy. In the final weeks of December, there will also be plenty of hustle and bustle at movie theaters. In total, 12 movies are scheduled for nationwide releases, with each weekend having about four films each. Here's your guide on what to expect from these films and when they're expected to open in local and/or regional cinemas. "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," Dec. 14
BEMIDJI—Northern Minnesota gas prices are holding steady with the national average lately rather than the state average. According to AAA, Beltrami County has an average price of $2.43 per gallon, slightly in front of Itasca at $2.42, Koochiching at $2.40 and Clearwater at $2.39. The national average, according to AAA, matches Beltrami at $2.43 per gallon while the state average sits at $2.32.
BEMIDJI—A year after hundreds of deaths and thousands of hospitalizations because of influenza, health officials are reminding the public to get vaccinated. "The first thing we do is recommend everyone get their flu shot," said Cynthia Borgen, Beltrami County Public Health Director. "Last year was a really bad year, we had a lot of deaths in the state and in the country, especially among the elderly."