Joint meeting of Bemidji and Beltrami runs the gamut of long-term projects

The Bemidji City Council and the Beltrami County Board met jointly Monday to discuss a variety of issues that include both local stakeholders.

Sheriff Ernie Beitel briefly highlighted the Beltrami County Jail Project, and some statistics for current jail operations.

Due to staffing issues, the jail has to limit its inmate population, which means many inmates are being transported to other jurisdictions across the state, at great expense to the county.

These contracts with other jails include housing an inmate with regular needs at $35 a day, not including the cost and staffing of transport.

The four different jail-related committees have only just been formed, and the renovated jail project is still at least five years from completion.

The joint meeting also discussed the Birchmont Beach Road improvements, tentatively scheduled for 2024.

Beltrami County recently received some grant dollars for this project, and ideas out there include a broader bike path or even a trail as part of the preferred path for cyclists rounding Lake Bemidji.

City Manager Nate Mathews said the owners of Rutger’s Birchmont Lodge are open to an orderly annexation to connect to city utilities, and that the city has an interest in this otherwise county road project.

A long-term goal for the City of Bemidji is to extend water and sewer services all around the lake, to protect Lake Bemidji from failing septic systems.

The Bemidji Libary was brought up, too. Councilmember and Library Board member Nancy Erickson described it as an unusual money problem.

The Kitchigami Regional Library serves a large swath of Greater Minnesota, collecting levy dollars in the communities in which it serves.

Other items included a possible new custom zone for the area southeast of the airport runway and the Bemidji Veterans Home timeline with a groundbreaking sometime in August.

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