Bike sharing goes Up North
In its first expansion outside the Twin Cities, the Nice Ride Minnesota bike-sharing program will roll out 200 bikes at four locations in Bemidji starting Sunday. The pilot project is believed to be the nation's first in a city as small as Bemidji, pop. 13,723.
The organization has no plans to expand to other cities but will gauge Bemidji's success to see if that makes sense. Organizers picked Bemidji because they decided you could travel there for a three-day weekend, not touch your car and have a positive experience.
Unlike the lime-green bikes available at 170 Twin Cities locations, Bemidji's bikes will be orange. It will be a standard bike-rental operation, with prices ranging from $6 an hour to $80 per week. Students at Bemidji State can rent bikes for $55 a semester. The campus is one of four locations, along with the visitors' center, the Hampton Inn and Lake Bemidji State Park.
CURT BROWN @stribcbrown
House passes bill to rename post office for slain cop
The U.S. House has voted to rename the Cold Spring post office in honor of slain police officer Thomas Decker, who was killed on duty in November 2012.
The bill, written by Rep. Michele Bachmann, seeks to rename the post office the "Officer Tommy Decker Memorial Post Office." Every member of the state's House delegation co-sponsored Bachmann's bill.
The bill must be approved by the Senate and signed by President Obama before the tribute is approved.
"It's a fitting tribute to a life well lived and to a man greatly missed," Bachmann said in a speech on the House floor Tuesday.
Decker was shot in the head outside a local bar moments after he arrived to make a welfare check on a resident. He is survived by his wife and four children.
Corey Mitchell @StribMitchell
IRRRB to vote on budget
The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board will weigh a $40.9 million 2015 budget Monday that includes $6.2 million for a new $10 million event center at the Giants Ridge Ski Area near Biwabik, plus millions for grants.
The economic development agency's budget, proposed by Commissioner Tony Sertich, would invest $9.1 million in projects to attract new investments in the state's Northeast region. Another $5.6 million would go toward infrastructure grants. Funding for K-12 and higher education also makes up a big chunk of the proposal.
"A highlight of this year's budget is that a significant amount of funding is allocated for our regional education system," Sertich said in a news release. "This gives us the opportunity to invest in innovative projects that will help us grow the next generation of residents and our workforce."
Giants Ridge, which is owned by the IRRRB, nabbed $3.8 million in the last legislative session.
Jenna Ross @ByJenna
Anonymous $50,000 donation stuns center
Since 2006, the Family Advocacy Center of Northern Minnesota has provided the grim service of interviewing, examining and counseling children who have been physically or sexually abused or have witnessed violence. The number of children coming to the center has doubled in recent years.
Recently, instead of the typical bills and invoices, the center's mail included a $50,000 check from an anonymous donor sent through a local credit union. The donor said in an accompanying letter that he was giving 10 times more than he'd ever donated to any cause out of a passion to advocate for children and teenagers.
"My dream is that every child will be treated well and advocacy centers will no longer be needed," the donor wrote. "Until that time, please continue providing kids and teens a safe place during a scary time in their lives."
With four employees and a $265,000 annual budget funded from donations and grants, the $50,000 "keeps our little nonprofit alive and well and surviving," said Aria Trudeau, the center's director. "Talk about something really making your day."
CURT BROWN @stribcbrown