Spenser Bickett covers the Brainerd City Council and Brainerd School Board. A native of the Twin Cities, Bickett attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he majored in journalism with a minor in political science. After graduation, he interned for Sun Newspapers in Osseo and later worked for the International Falls Journal as a staff writer.
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A Brainerd Area Environmental Learning Network event Thursday touched on efforts to connect non-motorized trails in the Brainerd lakes area. The "Getting on Board with Non-motorized Transportation" discussion featured three presenters talking about different local efforts to promote non-motorized transportation in the area.
The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport commission Thursday morning talked about what would happen to the airport if the federal Essential Air Service program were eliminated. A recent budget proposal from President Donald Trump included the elimination of the program. Thursday, airport director Steve Wright provided some information on the airport's connection to the program.
The Brainerd City Council Monday night took steps to ensure the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport utility extension project is completed correctly. The council unanimously approved a fee amendment to the city's contract with Short Elliott Hendrickson for consulting engineering services on the project. The fee amendment adds $61,165 to the existing contract, for a total value of $753,897.
The Brainerd City Council Monday night adopted a resolution declaring a downtown Brainerd building hazardous and ordering its removal. The building is located at 507 South Sixth St. and contains a 13-unit motel building and a separate office building, both of which have fallen into disrepair. A garage building on the property is not included in the resolution.
Staples-Motley School District Superintendent Mary Klamm submitted her letter of resignation to the Staples-Motley School Board following Monday night's board meeting. Klamm has worked in education for 38 years, she said, and decided it was an opportune time to retire. She has spent the past two years as superintendent in Staples-Motley. Prior to that, she served as superintendent in the Menahga School District for six years.
The Brainerd City Council Monday night approved the city's annual donation for fireworks for the Fourth of July festivities organized by Brainerd Community Action. In past years, the question of how much money the city should donate for fireworks has been a hot-button topic, sometimes resulting in extensive discussion and differing opinions. This year, however, the council unanimously approved a donation of $8,000 with no extra discussion.
When law enforcement is in hot pursuit of someone on the run, an eye in the sky can provide critical help in tracking that person down. Instead of a helicopter, some law enforcement agencies are using drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, to provide a bird's eye view of situations. Like any new technology adopted by law enforcement, the applications can seem endless, said Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston. "Like a lot of technology, I think the sky's the limit," McQuiston said.
Brainerd Public Schools Superintendent Laine Larson Thursday spoke to a monthly meeting of the League of Women Voters of the Brainerd lakes area about her background, what drew her to Brainerd and what she's focusing on. Larson updated the group on the process the district is making on implementing its comprehensive long-range facilities plan. Thursday's meeting took place at First Presbyterian Church in Brainerd, a short walk from Larson's office at Washington Educational Services Building.
An impassioned plea from a day care provider during Monday night's Brainerd School Board meeting led to a discussion about the school district's busing policy. During the public input portion of the meeting, Baxter day care provider Kim Opay told the board she's concerned about children in her day care having to walk to school at Baxter Elementary School. Currently, the district's transportation walking boundary is set at one mile, which means students who live more than one mile from school are eligible for transportation to and from school.
One member of the Brainerd School Board Monday night spoke out against updates to the district's reproductive health curriculum for fifth, seventh and ninth grades. On a 4-1 vote, the board approved the changes to the curriculum as presented by Tim Murtha, director of teaching and learning. Board member Sue Kern voted against the motion. Kern said she didn't agree with the district teaching students about emergency contraception options like Plan B. "I believe that life begins at conception," Kern said. "Taking something after the fact is a termination of that life."