Your Tuesday News Brief: August 22

BEMIDJI– Bemidji will soon lose its citizen patrol. The announcement came Monday that the volunteer branch of the police department will disband on August 31 after 20 years of service to the city. David Quam, a member of the Citizens Patrol, said that the decision to disband is due to exhaustion of its members and a lack of new members. Mayor of Bemidji Rita Albrecht and Chief of Police Mike Mastin expressed their gratitude to the volunteers, thanked them for their thousands of hours of service, and Chief Mastin presented awards and challenge medals to the unit during Monday’s City Council meeting.


BEMIDJI– Bemidji’s new liquor store will be adjacent to its existing one near the corner of Paul Bunyan Drive and Irvine Avenue. The city approved the purchase decision Monday during the biweekly council session. The city, according to documents, will purchase the property currently owned by Tim Orton of Orton’s Food Mart for a total of $775,000, with Orton responsible for demolition, gas tank removal, and environmental clean up as needed. The city documents, submitted by City Manager Nate Mathews, state that after closing the sale, the current owners will perform the cleanup work, which is expected to happen by November First.


BEMIDJI– Bemidji area schools and the tribes of White Earth, Red Lake, and Leech Lake will soon work together to help shape an Indian education curriculum. Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Hess said Monday that the Minnesota Tribal Consultation program will increase dialogue between the district and nearby tribes. The program, according to Hess, will match up tribal authorities with the Indian Education coordinator to create a meaningful curriculum for indigenous students.


BEMIDJI– Bemidji area schools is attempting to address mental health problems, starting with some of their youngest learners. The school board listened to presentations by Kathy Palm and Kathy Van Wert on the program Monday. Van Wert said that Paul Bunyan Elementary School has been working with “PeaceMakers” in Bemidji for many years, and that they deliver socio-emotional lessons for about 30 minutes. The program, according to Van Wert, has shown a reduction in minor behavioral incidents with the students, and that the lessons the PeaceMakers teach the children go back to the families, the future teachers, and ultimately, to the community.


Joseph Wood, 25, of Bemidji. Photo courtesy of Beltrami County. 

BEMIDJI– A Bemidji man pleaded not guilty to burglary in Beltrami Court Monday. Twenty-five-year-old Joseph Devon Wood is accused of committing first degree burglary and assault last March, a crime which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. According to the complaint, Wood’s alleged victim told officers from his hospital bed that Wood and two others broke into his house, and that he was beaten with a blunt object and overheard one of the burglars state “he probably knows us, we should just kill him.” The victim stated that the burglars stole one-thousand-dollars cash from him. Wood was arrested that same day while attempting to enter an abandoned trailer, and a search of that trailer by law enforcement discovered a baseball bat covered in a cloth. Wood’s pre-trial date is scheduled for October 10.


Leech Lake Tribal College has been named the best community college in the nation by the personal-finance website WalletHub. The site, according to an email sent to Paul Bunyan Broadcasting, set out to determine where students can receive the best education at the cheapest rates. WalletHub compared 700 schools on 14 indicators of cost and quality. The data set ranges from the cost of in-state tuition and fees to student-faculty ratio to graduation rate.


  1. PAUL– Minnesota officials say they’ll change environmental rules that affect waterways with wild rice. The state’s Pollution Control Agency said Monday it would limit rice killing sulfides in the water, instead of the sulfate that generates sulfide. Officials say the new rule would have a maximum of 120 parts of sulfides per million, instead of ten parts per million of sulfate in wild race waters. The state’s mining industry has argued for years that the present limit poses too many burdens, and scientists learned long ago that wild rice does not grow well in waters with high sulfate. Hearings on the change will be held in October, and the M-P-C-A will accept public comments into November.

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