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Bemidji State needs more money for sports, fires longtime AD

ALSO: Crystal Sugar workers to vote on co-op contract offer; St. Scholastica counts free online courses toward degree; countdown begins in Le Sueur legislative recount; and more. 

Bemidji State University is rethinking how it approaches athletics. Why? Changes in state higher-education funding means BSU must find more private support for sports. The result? Longtime BSU athletic director Rick Goeb will be replaced at the end of the school year, reports the Bemidji Pioneer. Ten years ago, two-thirds of BSU’s budget came from state appropriations, compared to about a third from tuition. Those figures are now reversed. In an email sent Monday, BSU President Richard Hanson wrote, “Because we cannot in good conscience direct more state dollars to athletics, we must inspire greater private support. … This means we must work harder and more creatively to build enthusiasm for our teams.” Goeb, who was hired as BSU’s first full-time athletics director in 2001, apparently isn’t part of the plan. He oversees an athletics program consisting of Division I hockey for men and women and 15 Division II sports. “I’m very proud … looking at where our programs were in 2001 and where they are today,” he said. Specifically, he is proud the BSU men’s team was accepted into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. “I’ll stand behind the result of what we’ve accomplished,” he said.  

American Crystal Sugar employees will vote on another contract offer from the co-op on Friday, said John Riskey, president of Local 167G of the Bakery Workers union. More than 1,300 workers were locked out by management Aug. 1, 2011, after members rejected their contract offer, notes Christopher Bjorke of the Fargo Forum. Workers also rejected the contract in two later votes. Riskey declined to comment on discussions during the union’s last meeting with management.

The College of St. Scholastica will now count education from free online courses toward completion of their college degrees. This could save students thousands of dollars, reports Jana Hollingsworth of the Duluth News Tribune.  The program, CSS Complete, has previously given credit for off-campus learning such as military service, volunteer experience or work history, but will now offer credit for massive open online courses, or MOOCs. “This is potentially a great new development in higher education, and we want to be a player in it,” said CSS president Larry Goodwin. MOOCs are free and do not offer credits. They are offered by schools like Harvard and Princeton, and the classes cater to hundreds of thousands of students to promote lifelong learning. Now, St. Scholastica will give credit for MOOCs as long as the school can verify that adequate learning was accomplished.  But acceptance of MOOCs doesn’t mean the college will ease its standards. St. Scholastica faculty members also work to ensure its Benedictine philosophy is imparted to participants of the program. For example, a professor working with a business owner toward a degree might ask about the owner’s “ethical compass.” If the owner had never studied ethics, additional work might be suggested. “It allows us to protect the brand and make sure the imprint we’re trying to make on students is still made,” Wortham said.

A recount of more than 41,000 ballots cast in Senate District 20 will begin tomorrow, writes Mark Fischenich of the Mankato Free Press. Former DFL state Sen. Kevin Dahle of Northfield, a Northfield High School social studies teacher, lost his seat two years ago by fewer than 900 votes. This year, he received 78 more votes than Mike Dudley, a New Prague Republican and retired FBI agent, among 41,231 ballots counted. The numbers are well within the threshold for an automatic recount under state election law. Dudley said he’s not optimistic about changing the result but he decided against conceding the race. “It was just too close to not let it play out,” he said. He was concerned about the cost of the recount, but said past recounts worked out to about 3 cents per ballot, or about $1,300 for the district in parts of Le Sueur, Rice and Scott counties.

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The debut of the Kiwanis Holiday Lights display in Mankato’s Sibley Park was a smashing success, reports Robb Murray of the Mankato Free Press. More than 5,000 cars idled through the display of what organizers hope will be an annual event. Some of the 1 million LED lights were strung across the roofs of animal barns, some were set to music, some were in the shape of Christmas trees or candy canes, some were strewn through the boughs of the park’s trees. “It exceeded most everybody’s expectations,” said Kiwanis Club member Joe Meidl. The Kiwanis Holiday Lights display has been in the works for nearly two years and has cost nearly $100,000. The lights are open for viewing from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 31. Food and cash donations will be collected each night.

The headline in the New Ulm Journal, “Mall Dispute Takes Weird Turn,” was enough to get us looking. According to a police report, Theodore Jafvert said Randy Danielson, who owns part of the Marktplatz Mall, came to Outlet Sales, Jafvert’s store in the mall, and demanded rent. Jafvert said Danielson then turned off utilities to his store, padlocked the front door of the business and left with Jafvert still inside. Jafvert said he was able to get out of the store and that Danielson didn’t threaten him. A short time later, police were called by an FBI agent who said he was contacted by a person from Ohio who stated Jafvert had been kidnapped. Police told the FBI agent that the situation was an ongoing civil dispute at the mall. The FBI agent said he didn’t need to be involved, according to the police report. Police also told Jafvert they couldn’t handle any civil issue between the two men, according to the report. Danielson told The Journal that Jafvert was never locked inside his store because it has rear emergency exits. “I locked his (store) door because he (Jafvert) didn’t pay rent or utilities,” Danielson said. “We’re working on working things out.” A visit by a Journal reporter last week showed lights on in Jafvert’s store, some dolls and racks of clothing, and a note on the store security gate that read “went to wholesale warehouse. Back around 6.”