Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
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Pillager School District Superintendent Chuck Arns, who oversaw a 64,000-square-foot secondary addition and increased enrollment during his tenure, announced Tuesday his intent to retire. His big decisions in the future,...
Dolly Matten, who was named to replace Bonnie Cumberland on the Brainerd City Council earlier this year, filed for re-election to the at-large post. Matten, 43, said Friday her short tenure on the council has been similar to starting a new job and that she feels increasingly comfortable in the position. She continues to serve on the Brainerd Planning Commission and on the Brainerd Charter Commission, two appointments she said she enjoys. “It makes you a better, more rounded, knowledgeable person,” she said.
Dirk Vanderwerker sees a need to protect and preserve Brainerd’s residential neighborhoods. That’s one reason, he said, why he filed on Friday for the Ward 2 seat on the Brainerd City Council. “I think that’s critical,” he said. “What we don’t want for any city is declining property values resulting in climbing tax rates. I would want to see both the quality of housing improve with the hope that property values would certainly remain stable or increase and help keep our tax rates down.”
VFW Commander in Chief William “Bill” A. Thien on Friday called for accountability and transparency in the Veterans Affairs medical care problems. His comments, including a call for an independent investigation, came during a visit to Brainerd VFW Post 1647. “We want the truth,” he said, noting he didn’t care where that search for truth led. Thien said that if it was determined that any misdeeds in the VA system resulted in the death of a veteran the VFW would ask for criminal charges.
A potential threat against a student and an adult led Brainerd School District officials on Wednesday morning to place two schools — Forestview Middle School and Garfield Elementary School — on soft lockdown. Soft lockdown, according to Superintendent Steve Razidlo, means access to the schools is controlled and there are no outside playground activities. “We don’t believe students are in danger right now,” Razidlo said early Wednesday afternoon, describing the lockdown as a precautionary move that was taken because of the possibility of a threat.
Crow Wing County Republican Chair Josh Heintzeman Friday filed to run for the House District 10A against Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter. Heintzeman, 36, said in a statement: “John Ward and one party rule in St. Paul have put Minnesota back on a reckless tax and spend path that will hurt our local economy and risks the future of our children.
Brian K. Wallin of Pequot Lakes filed Tuesday for the Crow Wing County recorder post. The owner-broker of Black Bear Real Estate LLC, Wallin has been in the real estate business since 1994 and said his business calls for him to be in the recorder’s office several times a week. He has also worked as a property site inspector, closing agent and has provided abstract services the last three years for Capitol Lien Records and Research in Baxter. “I’ve gotten to know the system and staff,” he said.
Deputy Recorder Doug Hansen of Nisswa filed Tuesday for the post of Crow Wing County recorder. Hansen started working in the Crow Wing County Auditor’s Office in 2001, served as a geographic information specialist in the Land Services Department and was co-interim director of information technology before being named deputy recorder in August of 2013. He said he’d like to continue the progress the department is making now leveraging technology to make the office’s process more efficient. This, he said, results in better customer service and is fiscally responsible.
Depending on which Brainerd area legislator was providing the perspective, the 2014 Minnesota legislative session that adjourned last week was either an assembly lawmakers could take great pride in or an abject failure. Not surprisingly, the division of opinions fell along party lines.
The extension of Brainerd water and sewer service to the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport — identified as a top priority by area lawmakers — will be part of the tax bill that’s been approved in a conference committee at the Minnesota Legislature.