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—Election 2018 isn't entirely finished in northern Minnesota. On Tuesday, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon convened the State Canvassing Board to certify Nov. 6's election results and approve a contingent for a publicly funded recount in Minnesota House District 5A, should a request be made. The request to trigger a recount was made later in the day by incumbent District 5A Rep. Matt Bliss, R-Pennington.
BEMIDJI—A proposed ordinance to raise the legal tobacco buying age to 21 in Beltrami County will be openly discussed at a public hearing next month. At a meeting last week, the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners were introduced to the ordinance concept by the county's Public Health Division Director Cynthia Borgen. During the meeting, Borgen told the board that 17 Minnesota cities and counties have raised the tobacco purchasing age to 21, with the closest being Otter Tail County.
BEMIDJI—While the 2019 state legislative session will see a different governor and plenty of new faces in the House, one of the top priorities for the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities remains the same. As has been the case with recent years, the coalition is once again looking to the Legislature for a boost in Local Government Aid, or LGA. The funding distributed to communities by the state government on an annual basis is designed to help cities that have greater needs than what can reasonably be covered by way of property taxes.
BEMIDJI—Evergreen Youth and Family Services is opening its doors this week to showcase to the public what it does to help the people in the community. The Evergreen crisis shelter on Mississippi Avenue will hold an open house, providing an opportunity to see the operation at work. Dan McKeon, Evergreen executive director, said the event is part of the nonprofit's outreach effort to garner community support. The push comes after Evergreen was not awarded one of its key operating grants at the federal level.
BEMIDJI—Comedian Ron White, well known for his performances with the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, is performing at the Sanford Center on Saturday, Dec. 1. A Grammy-nominated comedian and feature actor, White has sold more than 14 million albums in his career. He originally began performing stand-up comedy in 1986 and in 2000, he joined the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, alongside Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy. Over his time with the group, the tour sold out audiences in 270 cities.
BEMIDJI—A comprehensive plan on how the Bemidji area should strategize future planning through 2040 was reviewed by the public this week. There was an open house Thursday at City Hall to present the Greater Bemidji Area 2040 Comprehensive Plan. The plan was compiled by the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board staff with several sections dedicated to different areas of the community's future. The JPB has authority related to zoning, planning and variances for the city of Bemidji and Northern Township.
BEMIDJI—Local donations and pledges for a proposed Veterans Home in Bemidji have topped the $2.1 million mark. At Tuesday's Beltrami County Board of Commissioners meeting, Veterans Service Officer Scotty Allison informed commissioners the total amount of area donations and pledgesis at $2,135,659. When added to the $12.4 million allocated by the state Legislature, the in-state contribution comes to $14.5 million.
BEMIDJI—One of the Bemidji region's longstanding resorts has fallen into non-compliance, according to the area planning and zoning authority. At its monthly meeting Wednesday, Nov. 14, the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board made the decision to explore options with legal counsel on handling compliance issues with Ruttger's Birchmont Lodge on Lake Bemidji. Planning Director Casey Mai said in the past year, since ownership of the resort changed, the new management has failed to upgrade several septic systems on the property.
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji City Council, with two of its members absent, was divided Monday on moving forward with redeveloping the rail corridor area south of downtown. City Manager Nate Mathews told the council that the St. Paul Port Authority, which has been contracted to explore the logistics of redeveloping the area, is ready to move on to the next phases.
BEMIDJI—A candidate who ran an unsuccessful bid for the Bemidji City Council At-Large seat has been fined $500 for a violation of Minnesota statute. The fine was levied by a panel of three judges in the state Office of Administrative Hearings on Friday, Nov. 16, against Don Heinonen. The decision was based on a complaint made by Bemidji citizen Robert Saxton, who alleged Heinonen violated campaign statute by accepting a campaign contribution in excess of the $600 limit.