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Every year, we at the newspaper put our heads together for a big project called Love of the Lakes. In case you are unfamiliar, Love of the Lakes, or LOL, is a magazine promoting our area and our lakes through stories about conservation, fishing, hunting, recreation, nature, history and other topics. It's one of our biggest projects each year.
The looming Pine River Dam replacement project has been on a rollercoaster ride, going from seemingly no funding before the September city council meeting to now having the full $2.231 million for the project. The city is long overdue to replace its aging dam, which state inspectors deemed obsolete more than five years ago. The city applied for Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council grant dollars from the state to help pay for the project, but initially funding was denied. A call to state Rep. Sandy Layman, R-Cohasset, turned the city's fortunes around.
The Pine River-Backus School Board approved a levy of $1,739,789.84 for the 2018 pay 2019 levy. This is a $20,109.62 reduction over the 2017 pay 2018 levy due primarily to a reduction in enrollment by approximately 20 students, which reflected in adjustments to all levy categories that depend on pupil units, including the safe schools levy, long-term facilities maintenance and others. Business manager Jolene Bengtson said other funding remained the same, thanks to the board decision to underlevy by the same amount. The difference in funding equates to 1.14 percent.
Two Whitefish Area Lodging Association representatives attended the Monday, Dec. 10, Jenkins City Council meeting to oppose action the council took last month to no longer allow a 1 percent lodging tax paid by lodging customers at Wildwedge Golf and RV Park and AmericInn Lodge and Suites. Both businesses are in Jenkins. The council rescinded the city ordinance allowing the lodging tax in November after Mayor Jon Lubke presented the council with three options: Leave the ordinance as it was; change the ordinance; or rescind the ordinance.
The Pine River-Backus School Board changed gears slightly, agreeing to fund part of a proposed improvements project using $1.39 million in existing fund balances and seek $15.4 million from voters in a bond referendum. The board decided the individual projects previously considered for a $16.2 million improvements project were all still warranted and important, but funding could come from a source other than a bond referendum, thus reducing the tax impact of the proposed projects.
At least three new businesses opened their doors in Pequot Lakes in recent months, including a Japanese furniture and décor store called Asian Accents, a clothing and décor retailer called The Nest, and a restaurant called Pequot Pub and Grill, owned by a familiar restaurateur family. Asian Accents
The Pine River-Backus School Board's proposed $16.2 million bond referendum would fund six projects. The board will host four community feedback sessions in the next four months for input on the following proposals: • Career-technical spaces for $1.97 million: This project would renovate and expand the existing industrial tech classrooms and enhance CTE courses with new space and equipment.
Pine River-Backus students and cancer survivor Stacy Erholtz kicked off the inaugural student-led Relay for Life on Friday, Dec. 7, raising $4,242 for the American Cancer Society. Erholtz, of Pequot Lakes, was selected to share her amazing survival story. She is the only person to have complete remission from multiple myeloma, a deadly, incurable blood cancer, after a remarkably successful experimental treatment.
The Backus City Council will weigh its options for a possible airport master plan in January. During the Monday, Dec. 3, council meeting, engineers from Short Elliott Hendrickson explained the benefits of a master plan. The largest advantage may be that the Federal Aviation Administration requires such a plan if Backus wants to build hangars at the municipal airport, a plan the council has kicked around at earlier council meetings.
If you have ever had questions about Christian schools or wondered how they work, Pastor Blair Ecker and his students at Pine Mountain Christian Academy in Backus have just the podcast for you. Since the beginning of the school year a team of students at the academy has been running Christian School Radio, a podcast program that shares with the outside world the inner-workings of Christian education in homes, churches and schools.