Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

By Bethany Wesley
Bemidji Pioneer 

Bemidji City Council: Gambling, streetlights to be discussed


The Bemidji City Council will consider a resolution Monday that would support the

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in its opposition to expanding gambling throughout


The council will convene for its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

Following the meeting, the council will convene as the Bemidji Economic

Development Authority to hold a public hearing on the proposed sale of land in the

south shore redevelopment. The land to be discussed is a 1.46-acre parcel that is

scheduled to be sold to MoDev for Lake Bemidji Lodge, a proposed mixed-use


In addition to considering the gambling resolution, the City Council plans to hold an

annual public hearing on the city’s Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program and

a public hearing on an alley vacation for St. Philip’s Catholic Church. Further, it will

discuss non-functioning streetlights in the Industrial Park and consider a potential


The gambling resolution, if supported by the council majority, would likely state that

the city of Bemidji does not believe that expanding gambling is the answer to the

state’s budget problems. A proposed resolution cites the economic impacts of

Leech Lake’s three casinos and states that the city of Bemidji would like

legislators to reject proposals to expand gambling throughout the state.

The council also will consider a solution for about 35 non-functioning street lights in

the Industrial Park.

There are 70 streetlights, installed in 1979, wired on six electrical circuits and

about half of them do not work – and have not worked for a couple of years.

At least one property owner in the Industrial Park has asked that the situation be


The council is aware of the situation, as City Engineer/Public Works Director

Craig Gray has referenced the problem in previous discussion, but this will be the

first time the council is asked to take action to address the situation.

Gray has reported that the makeshift wiring repairs have been attempted, but

without a qualified staff member, the repairs have been “temporary at best.”

The problem is that the underground wiring installed in 1979 was not conduit or

armored cable, which is now the standard, and has resulted in broken

underground wring and faulty service equipment.

New wiring and conduit is recommended as is some service equipment.

The preliminary project estimate is $50,000, which would replace the wiring and

address the non-working streetlights. To replace all the 1979 wiring in the Industrial

Park would cost upwards of $125,000.

Because the extent of the problem will not entirely be known until digging

commences, Gray is requesting a $60,000 budget.

The project was not in the city’s 2011 budget. The funds are proposed to come

from reserves.


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