Turtle River Lake

$5M gift will kick-start Korean language village

The “Korean Wave” will soon land on the shores of Turtle River Lake near Bemidji thanks to a $5 million donation from Simone Corp. and its CEO, Kenny Park.

The money, touted as the largest gift in support of K-16 Korean Language instruction in North America, will bankroll the initial building phase of a Korean language village on an 875-acre parcel that currently has seven other language villages run by Concordia College in Moorhead.

The Korean village will include cabins, an industrial kitchen and dining center, a “dojang,” or martial arts training hall, an archery field and a pavilion on the lake, said Christine Schulze, executive director of Concordia Language Villages.

Simone Corp. makes high-end women’s handbags. Schulze said Park became a donor to the Concordia Language Villages a decade ago after hearing its founding dean, Ross King, interviewed on the radio in Seoul. King had said that Koreans need to invest in others learning their language and culture if the nation expects to play a significant role on the world stage, Schulze said. Park plans to attend a groundbreaking ceremony July 6.

“We hope to have the village operational and in use by the summer of 2020 — or sooner, if possible,” Schulze said.

Concordia Language Villages began in 1961 and now offers courses in 15 languages. Korean programs began in 1999. The Korean village is the first with an Asian motif.

Dan Browning

Grand Rapids

School district holds referendum Tuesday

Grand Rapids is one of three school districts in Minnesota holding referendums this week.

After a 2015 referendum failed, the district is going back to voters Tuesday requesting $74 million through two questions. The first asks for $68.9 million to build two elementary schools and renovate and expand Cohasset Elementary to help address overcrowding caused by rising enrollment. The second asks for $5 million to improve athletic practice fields and weight and locker rooms. If voters approve both, the owner of a $150,000 home will pay $8.30 more a month in district taxes.

School referendums were once held at anytime during the year, but the Legislature changed that last year to only three days outside the general and primary elections — the second Tuesdays of February, April and May. Three districts held referendums in February. Three more will take place Tuesday and nine will be held in May.

Kelly Smith

Red Lake

Red Lake Nation celebrates 100 years of its constitution

The Red Lake Nation will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of its constitution with ceremonies this weekend.

The nation was created in 1918 as a sovereign entity under tribal government, subject to federal laws but not state laws. Tribal citizens often refer to themselves as “a nation within a nation.”

The constitution was revised and updated in 1958.

John Reinan