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26th March 2015

Two bull elk were illegally shot and killed near Grygla in an area that holds Minnesota’s smallest elk herd and has been closed to hunting since 2012, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“Our investigation found that these elk had been shot and left,” said Lt. Pat Znajda, a supervisor with the DNR’s Enforcement Division. “The illegal killing of these bulls chips away at the outdoor heritage valued by law-abiding people in this state.”

Wildlife officials spotted the dead elk in late February on state land while conducting an aerial elk survey. An onsite visit revealed a dead bull and a younger dead bull with spike antlers that were found in thick willow cover. Both animals were frozen and had been dead for some time. DNR conservation officers were called to investigate.

“The discovery of two dead bull elk is disturbing,” said John Williams, DNR northwest region wildlife manager. “These bulls represented about 10 percent of the known Grygla herd. Due to the decline of this herd, the causes of which are unknown, there has not been a hunting season since fall of 2012.”

There are three distinct elk herds in northwestern Minnesota, which comprise the state’s entire elk population. The Grygla herd has declined in recent years and is currently estimated at 18 elk, down from the 20 counted last year and 28 counted in 2013.

“This herd had already been in decline before this incident, and there is no indication the decline has been caused by disease,” Williams said. “From 2006 to 2009, wildlife managers counted more than 50 elk in this herd. In 2009, the population goal range for this herd was set at 30 to 38 animals, and hunting had brought the herd within that range following the last hunting season in 2012.”

Elk are managed to maintain a free-ranging, wild population in far northwestern Minnesota. These herds afford recreational and economic opportunities, including wildlife watching and hunting seasons when their populations can sustain a hunt.

The DNR is in the process of updating a strategic management plan for elk, which will include a public input process before it is finalized. The plan will address population goals, landowner concerns about crop damage, and opportunities to hunt and view elk.

Anyone with information about the illegal shooting of the two bulls or the suspicious death of a bull elk in the Grygla area in fall of 2013 is urged to call the 24-hour, toll-free Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093. Cell phone users can dial #TIP. They can also contact Znajda at 218-242-1383.

25th March 2015

Bemidji State University’s third annual Headwaters Film Festival kicks off March 25 with a 33-film student competition and feature screenings that include the cult classic “Dazed and Confused.”  The Headwaters Film Festival is student run event. Programming is designed with students in mind, but all are welcome to attend. All of the festival’s events will be held in the Main Theatre of BSU’s Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex. There are no tickets and all events are open free of charge.


March 25: Student film competition

This year’s student film competition includes 33 entries from filmmakers in the United States and around the world. A dozen countries will be represented at the student competition, including Germany, Bulgaria, Spain, the United Kingdom, Greece, Iran, India, Poland and China.  Student films will be screened in four sessions, each representing a different thematic group, on March 25.

2 p.m., “Love/Looking for Love”; 6 films

3 p.m., “Mixed Works & Minnesota Filmmakers”; 10 films

4 p.m., popcorn intermission and photos

5 p.m., “Somewhat Less than Harmonious”; 9 films

6 p.m., “The Dark Side”; 8 films


March 26: Local and feature films

The feature segment of this year’s Headwaters Film Festival features “In the Shadow of Paul Bunyan,” a counter-history of the mythical Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe; films by BSU professors; a music video for Aaron Clafton’s “My American Dream,” by Sam Moore; and a screening “Dazed and Confused.” The screening of Clafton’s video will include a special live performance of the song.

2 p.m., “In the Shadow of Paul Bunyan,” Nik Nerburn

3 p.m., Local Filmmakers Dr. Debra Sea, Dr. Virgil Bakken and Sam Moore, with a special musical performance by Aaron Clafton

4 p.m., popcorn intermission and photos

5 p.m., feature film “Dazed and Confused” (1993)


Learn more by visiting Headwaters Film Festival: http://www.headwatersfilmfestival.org/

24th March 2015

The Bemidji City Council last night approved the contract negotiated with incoming City Manager Nathan Mathews… the approval coming after some discussion about his starting salary.  The City’s consultant, Dave Unmacht with Springsted, negotiated the contract with Mathews.  Under the contract, Mathews with begin his new post on May 4th with a starting annual salary of $99,201 dollars, with a step increase after 6 months and the completion of a successful performance evaluation.  Councilwoman Nancy Erickson said that she felt the starting salary is high for someone not coming from a city our size and that the step up after 6 months is disproportionate to how the city pays its other department heads.  Erickson said that there is no personal reflection on Mathews at all in what she was saying, she feels that the salary is skewed.  Mayor Rita Albrecht said that she felt that the starting salary was reasonable.  Council approved the negotiated terms and conditions of the city manager contract.  Councilman Ron Johnson was absent from last night’s meeting to due illness.

In other news from last night’s Bemidji City Council meeting

The Bemidji City Council last night, decided to move forward with the Lake Bemidji South Shore Clean-up project this year instead of waiting until 2016.  Last year, the City of Bemidji applied for funding through Lessard-Sams to remove wood chips and woody debris from the bottom of Lake Bemidji along the south shore to clear the way for a swimming beach and other future park improvements.  It was thought that the project wouldn’t happen until 2016 but City Engineer Craig Gray told the council last night that he has been working with Landmark Environmental and they have come up with a schedule that would allow the project to be completed this year.  Gray said it’s an aggressive schedule because there is a lot of work to be done, especially with the grant requirements added in.  Gray said that the Lessard-Sams committee has recommended to the legislature that the project receive $1.6 million in funding and it appears those funds wouldn’t be available until July 1 of this year so anything the city spends before that date would not be reimbursable through the grant.  The Council voted to move forward with the project, agreeing use city reserves to cover roughly $29,000 for design work that would occur before the grant funds are available in July.

19th March 2015

The Board of Trustees of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities today appointed Bill Maki as president of the Northeast Higher Education District (NHED), a consortium of Hibbing Community College, Itasaca Community College, Mesabi Range College, Rainy River Community College and Vermilion Community College.  His appointment becomes effective July 1, 2015.  Maki has been vice president of finance and administration at Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College since 2004. Previously, he served at NHED as the chief financial and facilities officer (2003-2004), and at Itasca Community College as dean of student and administrative services (2000-2003), director of finance and facilities (1997-2000), and business manager/business officer (1995-1997). He holds an associate degree from Vermilion Community College and a bachelor’s degree and a master’s from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

“It is an incredible privilege to have been selected for this role,” said Maki. “I look forward to working with the outstanding NHED colleges as we focus together on increasing access and improving learning opportunities for students, and improving alignment with regional businesses, industries, organizations, and education providers.”

17th March 2015

Governor Mark Dayton was in Bemidji Mondaytalking about his transportation proposal.  He addressed a crowd of local elected officials and tribal officials in Bemidji City Hall Council Chambers. The governor told the group that, if passed by the legislature, his transportation proposal would provide up to 184-million dollars over the next 10 years for key state road and bridge improvements in Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Cass, Itasca, and Koochiching Counties.  The governor’s plan includes dollars for needed improvements to highway 2 and highway 371, the repair or replacement of 31 area bridges, and additional annual funding for Bemidji and Beltrami County to use on priority local road and bridge improvement projects.  The governor indicated a willingness to work with Republicans in St. Paul to arrive at a compromise on transportation funding.

2nd March 2015

Bemidji Fire Department responded to a residential garage fire Saturday night at the 9000 block of Foxcroft Road NW. The fire was reported at 7:29 PM. Bemidji Firefighters arrived on scene to find heavy fire coming from the attached garage. Bemidji and Solway Firefighters were able to quickly contain and extinguish the fire, preventing any fire spread into the home. Twenty six firefighters used three fire engines, two squads and four water tenders on the scene. One minor injury to a firefighter was reported. The fire department was on scene approximately 3 hours. The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damage to the structure. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation by the Bemidji Fire Department; however it appears accidental in nature. The fire department was assisted on scene by Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, Solway Fire Department, Bemidji Ambulance service and Beltrami Electric Coop.

27th February 2015

This past Saturday, the Bemidji Fire Department hosted an Ice Rescue Technician course.  Bemidji Fire Chief Dave Hoefer says the course was funded by a Regional Grant from the State of Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education.  White Bear Academy taught the course which had sixteen students from Solway and Bemidji Fire Departments. The course included classroom time followed by on ice training on Lake Bemidji. Hoefer said that during the classroom portion, students learned about scene size -up, the cold water environment, the effects and stages of hypothermia, and different types of ice rescue equipment and rescue techniques. During the on ice portion the students practiced these new techniques and became comfortable performing a rescue in a cold water situation. With the completion of this course Bemidji Fire added several new members to their cold water rescue team and assisted Solway Fire with developing a team of their own.

21st February 2015

Saturday, February 28th, Lake Bemidji State Park will host a candlelight event for skies and snowshoers.  The event runs from 6 to 9pm.  Organizers say the trail is 1.5 miles and suitable for beginner-level skiers or snowshoers of all ages.  Participants can also warm up around a crackling fire and roast marshmallows or enjoy a hot beverage.  You can call 218-308-2300 for information about snowshoe rental or checkout.  For more information on the event, you can also go online to the Lake Bemidji State Park page at www.mndrn.gov.

6th February 2015

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is undertaking a closer examination of a trend in northwestern Minnesota where pine forests are being cut, cleared and converted to potatoes and other rotational croplands.

Because the pine-to-potatoes land conversion could potentially pose a threat to water supplies and impact fish and wildlife for years to come, the DNR will prepare a document known as a discretionary environmental assessment worksheet (EAW).

A North Dakota-based potato processor, R.D. Offutt, has been purchasing and clearing the forest land in four counties: Becker, Cass, Hubbard and Wadena. The DNR estimates that the processor has already purchased about 12,000 acres of pine forests. Some of this land has already been cleared, and the remainder is slated for clearing and conversion to irrigated croplands. The DNR estimates that another 15,000 acres of pine forests have the potential to be sold and converted to crops.

Altogether, the forest lands that have been cleared, or are at risk of being cleared, cover a total area of about 42 square miles – an area approximately covered by the cities of Bemidji, Brainerd and Detroit Lakes combined. Experts say the current rate of forest loss in this region has not been seen in recent memory.

The region’s sandy, permeable soil contributes to the potential impacts from this land conversion. These potential impacts include the risk of crop fertilizers contaminating local water supplies, groundwater overuse, and impacts to fish and wildlife. R.D. Offutt is asking the DNR for permits to construct groundwater wells to irrigate new and future croplands.

Before deciding whether to grant those well permit requests, the DNR will prepare the discretionary EAW in order to fully understand the potential environmental effects of any appropriation decisions and associated land clearing activities.

“It’s important that the DNR carefully consider the implications that this rapid forest land clearing and conversion will have on water quality, water supply, and related resources in this region and beyond,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “People rely on these water sources, and we want to take a hard look at any potential impacts.”

The EAW could take up to a year to complete. The potato processor has been informed of the environmental review process, which puts on hold any further land clearing and decisions regarding well permit applications.


30th January 2015

Bemidji State University President Richard A. Hanson challenged nearly 500 students at a campus-wide gathering Thursday to confront the dangers of alcohol abuse, and they shared their ideas for improving safety and promoting responsible behavior.  Following a Bemidji State student’s alcohol-related death in December and a second serious incident this month, Hanson invited students, faculty and staff to attend the unprecedented “Campus Summit on Alcohol and Student Safety,” yesterday Beaux Arts Ballroom.  Hanson told the crowd that he wanted to make this issue an issue and he wanted people to come together and ask what’s going on, what’s happening, why its happening and what can we do to stop it.  Hanson stressed the dangers of binge drinking, the ethics of personal responsibility and the importance of looking out for the welfare of others. Two BSU staff members also spoke, reviewing the university’s current strategies for alcohol education and prevention, which include a required freshman course, alcohol-free events and alcohol prohibition in residence halls. 

Hanson yesterday announced the formation of a joint university-community task force to develop a systemic approach to addressing the safety threat posed by alcohol abuse. He said that the task force will include students and will be guided in part by an upcoming student survey to better understand alcohol-related behaviors and attitudes.  Hanson said, “It’s hard work, but we must do this.”

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