Bemidji’s representative in the Capitol discusses second special session

Bemidji’s Representative in the Minnesota Legislature John Persell commented in an interview today that he hasn’t seen political gridlock like this in the capitol in all the time he’s been there.

Persell authored the original language behind the request for Bemidji’s Water Treatment Plant, which has undergone some changes in committees as legislators work toward compromise between the divided legislative branch.

Persell commented on the desires of some to have the House and Senate weigh in on the governor’s COVID-19-related decisions.

Persell spoke to his military background, highlighting that in emergencies, a defined leader is needed to prevent chaos. The full interview is available on Bemidji Now.

Listen to the full interview

The city of Bemidji is planning to go ahead with the project, despite the uncertainty around bonding to fund it. Phase 1 is slated to begin this year, which will provide several hundred thousand of gallons pumped and cleaned, with more capacity expected whenever Phase 2 is completed.

The treatment plant is being designed to clean PFAs from the city’s drinking water. The plant will also clean up iron and manganese, which engineers behind the project say is necessary in order to effectively remove the PFAs.

The PFAs are related to the use of firefighting foam at the Bemidji Regional Airport, right on top of the well field.

In the latest version of the House’s bonding bill, almost $10.2 million is dedicated to the project. The request includes language that if litigation against the manufacturer of the foam is successful, the city would reimburse the state up to $4 million.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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