I started at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and the Brainerd School District. I follow city and school board officials as they make important decisions for residents and students and decide how to spend taxpayer dollars. I look for feature story ideas among those I meet and enjoy, more than anything, helping individuals tell their stories and show what makes them unique.
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The future Brainerd School District building referred to thus far as the "new elementary school in Baxter" officially has a name. Baxter Elementary School. At the request of community members, the new school will keep the same name when it opens for the 2020-21 school year as the current school on Fairview Road. That building will be turned into an early childhood facility. Community Education Director Cori Reynolds walked school board members through the results of a community-wide survey during a special board meeting Monday, April 15.
Be it snow or green grass, an Easter egg hunt is planned for Saturday, April 20, at Gregory Park. The Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department will host the annual event, also sponsored by the Brainerd Rotary Club and Sullivan Candy & Supply, at 10 a.m.
STAPLES—After a community information session Tuesday, April 9, voters seem to be split on the necessity of a nearly $60 million referendum in the Staples-Motley School District. Voters will head to the polls May 14 to decide if the district's desired renovations to its buildings, along with a new activities center, will come to fruition.
Two more property acquisitions move the Brainerd School District one step closer to seeing one of its building projects come to fruition. After nearly two hours in closed session Monday, April 8, Brainerd School Board members reconvened their meeting and approved the acquisition of 1601 Oak St. and an adjacent, unaddressed property with parcel no. 09181016008B009. These acquisitions will allow for renovations to Harrison Elementary School. Plans include a classroom addition, a 40-stall parking lot and a new playground. In other business Monday, the school board:
The Brainerd School Board awarded several companies—both local and statewide—contracts to work on building projects at Forestview Middle School and Harrison Elementary School. After opening bids in the last couple weeks, the board identified the low bids and chose its contractors during its meeting Monday, April 8. Forestview Middle School
As of the end of March, New Pathways suspended services in the Brainerd lakes area. Directors of the homelessness program catering to families in Crow Wing and surrounding counties are working to decide what the next step will be after moving all of their belongings out of Halvorson-Taylor Funeral and Cremation Care (formerly Halverson-Johnson), the program's day center for the last two years.
Breezy Point is on the fast track to allow golf carts on county roads within the city. About a dozen city officials and residents made their case before the Crow Wing County Natural Resources Advisory Committee Wednesday, April 3. Among those present were Mayor Tom Lillehei, City Administrator Patrick Wussow, council member Michael Moroni and Police Chief Kevin Merschman, all of whom advocated for an ordinance allowing golf carts to drive on the shoulder of County Highways 4, 11 and 39 in Breezy Point.
The Brainerd City Council chose to move forward with a public hearing on proposed improvements on Buffalo Hills Lane. Council members accepted a feasibility report citing the reasons for the controversial project during their meeting Monday, April 1. The motivation for the project to reconstruct Buffalo Hills Lane from Greenwood Street to Mississippi Drive and Mississippi Drive from Buffalo Hills Lane to the dead end, the report reads, stems from deteriorating road conditions and the fact the roads were never constructed to city standards.
Despite a voice of opposition, liquor establishments in Brainerd choosing to classify themselves as restaurants instead of bars will see a decrease in their licensing fees. With sale licenses for bars and restaurants up for renewal July 1, the Brainerd City Council has been reviewing its fees.
The Brainerd City Council approved three street vacations, a rezoning request and a conditional use permit, all to further building projects in the Brainerd School District, namely Harrison Elementary School. Public hearings for each of the three street vacations took place during the council's regular meeting Monday, April 1. A street vacation is a type of easement in which a government transfers the right of way for a public street, highway or alley to a private property owner. In this case, the private owner is the Brainerd School District.