Jessie covers the Brainerd City Council and the Brainerd School Board.
Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Jessie attended Winona State University, where she majored in journalism with a minor in women and gender studies.
She worked at the Winona Daily News, Tomah Journal and the La Crosse Tribune before starting at the Dispatch in 2012.
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High school graduation rates typically fluctuate by a percentage point or two each year. But for three area school districts, that rate had a significant change: About a 10 percent drop or increase for each. Both Staples-Motley and Verndale had an increase - Staples-Motley by 11.4 percent and Verndale by 11.9 percent. Crosby-Ironton saw a 10.1 percent decrease. The 2014 data was released late last month by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). The state average is 81.2 percent for 2014, and 79.8 percent in 2013.
Plans are moving forward for a potential development along the Mississippi River in Brainerd. At a Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group heard from the Riverfront Steering Committee on what they reccomended for a project. The Riverfront Steering Committee, made up of about 30 community members, formed about a year ago. It's mission: pull together some form of riverfront project.
The first phase of apron repair work is done at the city's hydro dam. Now, crews have about a half day of work left in cleanup, which will be completed sometime this week, said Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) Superintendent Scott Magnuson. Magnuson gave an update on the project at a Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) Commission meeting Tuesday. "It looks good," he said of the site.
The campus community had a chance to weigh-in on a second round of key improvement ideas. Students, faculty and staff at Central Lakes College (CLC) took part in the second Charting the Future Gallery Walk Tuesday. It's part of a greater initiative that's working toward more collaboration among the 31 colleges and universities in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. Folks looked over the concept ideas from four implementation teams: academic planning and collaboration, competency certification and credit for prior learning, education technology and information techn
There's no clear public favorite for the number of lanes on South Sixth Street, or Business Highway 371. Residents had a chance to weigh in on the future reconstruction project of the road at a special Brainerd City Council meeting Monday. The group heard from more than a dozen people. While a slight majority spoke in favor of downsizing the road, several people said it was vital to keep the road at five lanes. Further, emails and phone calls to public officials are still pouring in, with people speaking in favor of each option. No decision was made Monday night.
Some local business leaders want to keep South Sixth Street, or Business Highway 371, a five lane road in the upcoming construction project. Others say it's important to reduce the road down to three lanes. About 50 representatives from area businesses and community partners voiced their concerns and suggestions surrounding the upcoming road project at a meeting Friday at the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce. There were also several city council members and city staff there. The meeting comes just days before a public hearing in front of the Brainerd City Council at 6 p.m. Monday.
There are three main concerns Superintendent Klint Willert has when looking at the Brainerd School District. He spotted them, among others, after recently laying out an entry plan, a task he was given at the beginning of the school year when he was brought into the district. "This (entry plan) is something that gives people an understanding of why we're taking the actions we are," he said. Ultimately, Willert wanted to spot any critical issues the district must address. The entry plan lays out several concerns, but Willert says three of those are most pressing: Facility and classroom space
The owner of Exhaust Pros Performance Plus says he has no interest is selling his business, despite a developer's hope to acquire the land and build a hotel downtown. James Lynch, who owns the business with wife, Wendy, said it would take a "huge, big check to buy me out." He added, "I'm one of the few businesses left that repairs exhaust. I love my location." Exhaust Pros shares a wall with the old Downtown Motel at 507 S. Sixth St, which was recently bought by Julian Jayasuriya. Jayasuriya hopes to build a two-story motel with 40 to 60 units.
It's time to celebrate the deep, rich history of Brainerd. The second annual Brainerd History Week runs June 15-22 and organizers are now releasing preliminary plans for get-togethers throughout the seven days. A committee of about a dozen people have pulled together a slew of events during the week. While a lot of the events are still subject to change, organizers say this year's celebration will be bigger and better. Here are the tentative events: Monday: Veterans day. There will be programs and speakers honoring all veterans of every war.
A Brainerd man bought the long-vacant Downtown Motel on South Sixth Street in Brainerd and is hoping to revamp it into a 60-unit motel geared toward business travelers. "I was looking at a way to attract business in the downtown area, away from Baxter," said Julian Jayasuriya, who recently bought the old Downtown Motel at 507 S. Sixth St.