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Residents had their first chance Tuesday, Jan. 15, to learn more about the Pine River-Backus School District bond referendum where voters will determine May 14 whether the district can issue up to $15.295 million in bonds to fund projects. Mike Schellin and Kelly Martinez, of Kodet Architectural Group LTD, gave a presentation on the four construction projects that would be included on the bond, and two additional projects that would be paid for with existing funds. Throughout the presentation they welcomed questions.
Bids for work on the Pine River well house and the water tower came in higher than anticipated, but the Pine River City Council accepted them Tuesday, Jan. 8. The lowest well house replacement bid came from Gridor Construction, of Buffalo, at $1,075,000, while the lowest water tower painting bid came from Viking Industrial Painting at $758,700. The city had estimated the cost to replace the two city well houses at $800,000 and the cost of painting at $740,000.
Though three out of four board members verbally opposed "Tobacco 21," the Pine River-Backus School Board ultimately agreed unanimously to support a minimum legal sales age of 21 for tobacco products. The board is supporting this initiative by Cass County, which is mulling over a decision. School board members Dawn Rubner, Chris Cunningham and Katy Botz voiced opposition to the restriction, saying that if 18-year-olds are able to join the military or be drafted, they should be allowed to decide to smoke. Other board members did not speak in opposition or support.
The Pine River City Council was busy with public hearings for variance requests, amendments and ordinance changes Tuesday, Jan. 8. Among the items approved at the pre-meeting public hearings was Faith Assembly of God Church's request for a conditional use permit and variance to rebuild the church that burned to the ground in 2018. The congregation would like to build a structure that exceeds the impervious surface requirements and maximum height requirements.
Food is odd in that you sometimes like or hate certain foods in all their forms, and then there are those foods you usually dislike, except when prepared in a specific way. Coffee, tomatoes and other foods fill that niche for me. Perhaps liver is the best example, though. I don't remember ever eating it fried, but I have a hard time getting around the musty odor. Spice it and make it into a pate, however, and you have one of my favorite New Year's Eve dishes.
The Backus City Council on Monday, Jan. 7, approved a proposal by Short Elliott Hendrickson engineering firm to prepare an airport master plan. The city's share of the cost for that plan (5 percent) amounts to $2,385. The remainder of the $47,700 fee will be paid through a Federal Aviation Administration grant. The plan lays out goals for the city for the next 20 years. Having the plan in place qualifies the city for specific improvements and FAA grants for the airport, including plans for development of for-lease hangars in the future. In other business Monday, the council:
The Pine River-Backus School Board agreed that a Tuesday, May 14, bond referendum ballot will contain one question, and the board will host the first of four public information meetings for that $15.3 million bond referendum at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, in the high school media center. Go to www.pineandlakes.com or look in the Jan. 24 Echo Journal for a report on that information meeting. The bond would pay for a construction project covering a multi-purpose performing arts center, football field and track upgrades, career and technical space, and the high school gym.
A Pine River couple became the happy parents of the first baby born in 2019 at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby - and the second baby of the new year born in Crow Wing County - when they welcomed Everly Claire Johnson into the world at 8:02 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2. Brent and Kristina Johnson were a little surprised when they were told their baby just might be the first born in Crow Wing County in 2019. They were later told that Everly Claire was the county's second baby of the new year.
Bob Fladung of Pine River is familiar to many, for a variety of reasons thanks to his time in law enforcement, his years in education and even ten years as mayor. Fladung's interesting past started early. He grew up during his high school years, of all places, inside Itasca State Park. "I was born and raised in Bemidji and lived there a number of years," Fladung said. "During the time I was in high school we moved to Itasca Park where my father was employed. I also worked there a number of years."
In the new year, Cody Wills of Backus is taking his 12 years of experience as a licensed mechanic and making that experience more accessible to busy car owners with his new business, AYS (At Your Service) Autocare. His mechanical repair business is different from many because he brings the tools to his customers.