The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs announced the lead contractors for the new state Veterans Homes. Adolfson & Peterson Construction will manage the Bemidji project, while Knutson Construction will oversee the Montevideo and Preston homes. These general contractors will begin soliciting sub-contractors over the next few months. Federal funding was recently committed for the three projects, with construction beginning as soon as this fall and will follow an 18-month construction schedule.
Minnesota officials told healthcare providers around the state Tuesday to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine amid fears the shots may cause blood clots. The Minnesota Department of Health said in a release that an extremely rare type of blood clot has been reported in six people who received the vaccine in the United States. All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination.
The Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force will participate in the DEA’s Prescription Drug Take Back Day Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Expired, unwanted or unused medication can be brought to the Beltrami County Law Enforcement Center. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the country continue to be alarmingly high as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.
The Bemidji Area School Board heard recommendations from staff on classroom adjustments and elementary school boundaries. The district has a class size goal of 30 students per section for elementary with different metrics for middle and high school. Business Director Jordan Hickman said staff is uncertain on how much impact COVID-19 has had on kindergarten students, for instance, if families opted to keep their child out of school another year.
City Finance Director Ron Eischens will give an overview of the city’s financial positions during the Bemidji City Council’s work session Monday. Eischens is recommending the council move to use the city’s surplus to increase designated fund balance for cash flow and unexpected expenses. The city has a surplus of about $1.1 million thanks to about $1.2 million in COVID funds the city received.
The Bemidji City Council voted to approve the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s reconstruction project of U.S. Highway 71, a step that was needed from the city since the project falls within city limits. The DOT plans to resurface a portion of Highway 71 and make intersection improvements at eight locations between Highway 197 and Winter Sumac Rd.
Minnesota health officials reported 2,500 new infections today as more infectious variants of the coronavirus drive case growth across the state. The new cases mark the highest single-day total since January as the state was coming down from the surge in infections cases late last year. The Minnesota Department of Health reported 14 more people have died due to COVID-19 in addition to the new virus cases.
The Bemidji City Council has voted to expand outdoor seating for downtown Bemidji restaurants. Restaurants will be allowed to use public right of way areas to serve their guests. The ability to serve guests in outdoor areas in this way was first introduced in 2020 to allow restaurants to stay open when indoor dining was closed due to COVID-19. The resolution was approved 5-2 by the council for this summer. The seating areas will come mostly from parking spaces.
Minnesota health officials today reported 2,004 new COVID-19 cases and 19 new deaths, nearly 500 Minnesotans are hospitalized due to the coronavirus as case numbers continue to rise despite the state’s vaccination campaign. MDH reported 15 new COVID cases in Beltrami County today, nine new cases in Cass County and one new case in Hubbard County.
The city of Bemidji has reached a settlement with 3M to help pay for treating contamination in the community’s water supply. 3M will pay $12.5 million toward building and operating a new treatment facility to remove chemicals known as PFAS, which the company manufactured for use as firefighting foam. The city found elevated levels in its wells in 2016 and linked the source of the contamination to firefighting foam used during training at the regional airport, which is located near the wells.