Bemidji spends cash to narrow achievement gap

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Bemidji is being proactive in narrowing the achievement gap between white and minority students in Minnesota.

When it comes to narrowing the achievement gap between white and minority students in Minnesota, Bemidji is being proactive, writes Bethany Wesley of the Bemidji Pioneer. The district is adding classes and staff to raise the achievement of American Indian, special-education and poor students. “It’s not acceptable to do nothing,” said Jim Hess, superintendent of schools, at Monday’s school board meeting. “We have to do something.” MCA Test Prep and Applied Science classes will be added to the high school curriculum, one more MCA Prep courses will be added for each of the three grades at the middle school, and the equivalent of five and a half full-time math specialists will be added at elementary schools. The cost for the new instructional time and staff is expected to be between $160,000 and $287,000.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fargo-Moorhead residents may have a drinking problem. The metropolitan area ranks third in the nation for binge drinking. Cali Ownings of the Fargo Forum looks at the details: Recently released 2011 CDC data show the proportion of area women who said they had more than four drinks on one occasion and men who had five drinks is 28.2 percent – the third-highest binge-drinking rate among 200 other large and small metropolitan areas. Residents also reported some of the highest heavy-drinking rates – two or more drinks daily for men and one for women – at 9.6 percent. Here are the top five binge-drinking cities: Midland, Texas – 32.5 percent; Columbus, Neb. – 28.4; Fargo-Moorhead – 28.2; Missoula, Mont. – 26.9; and Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo. – 26.4. Here are the top five areas with the highest heavy-drinking rates: Tallahassee, Fla. – 12.1 percent; Brookings, S.D. – 11.8; Missoula, Mont. – 10.4, Kahului-Wailuku, Hawaii – 10.3, Ocean City, N.J. – 10.1. Fargo-Moorhead comes in at the bottom of the Top 10 tied Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. and Keene, N.H. with 9.6.

The Duluth News Tribune is reporting a possible homicide in Babbitt. Paul John Bulen, 55, of Mahtomedi, Minn., was found wounded at 37 Astor Road at 11:12 a.m. Monday. Babbitt Ambulance took him to Ely Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office in Hibbing. Babbitt Police and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office have arrested a 24-year-old male suspect from Babbitt. He is being held in the St. Louis County Jail in Virginia pending formal charges.

The Associated Press, via the Rochester Post Bulletin, is reporting that the Minnesota State Patrol is having trouble keeping their prowlers out of the shop. Four squad cars have been damaged recently thanks to motorists who have slid into patrol cars on shoulders. No troopers were injured. The first incident occurred Friday on Interstate 94 near the Wisconsin border, when a truck rear-ended an idled squad car. The others occurred in northern Olmsted County, Willow River and Maplewood. Last year, only 19 parked patrol squads were hit.

An Austin man knows where his priorities lie. Trey Mewes of the Austin Daily Herald reports that a 48-year-old Austin man allegedly stole $100 from the Wells Fargo Austin branch Saturday and using it to buy cigarettes. According to police, here’s how the caper went down: At about 1:15 p.m. Saturday, a man wearing a blue hat with a horseshoe symbol on it gave a teller a note saying to give him a $100 bill. The teller gave the suspect $100 and called police. Video security footage shows the suspect walking in to Freedom Gas Station at Oakland Avenue West and buying a pack of cigarettes with a $100 bill. Police found the suspect walking eastbound on Oakland Avenue at about 1:50 p.m. He was arrested and taken to Wells Fargo, where bank workers identified him as the robber. He is at the Mower County jail awaiting formal charges.

Firefighters earned their pay Sunday in Fergus Falls as they put out a lit cigarette, reports the Fergus Falls Journal. Staff at Riverview Heights apartments called the fire department Monday evening when they smelled smoke. Residents gathered in the community room in case they needed to evacuate the premises. Firefighters conducted an exhaustive search of the building and discovered a cigarette fell on expansion joint material on the sidewalk and the smoke was drifting into the building. They used a fire extinguisher to put out the smoldering cigarette.

Also in Fergus Falls, a man was involved in an auto accident Friday and faces potential DUI and vehicular homicide or injury charges. Although it is not a chargeable offense, the man also was not wearing any pants or underwear when he was involved in the accident, according to the Fergus Falls Journal. The 60-year-old Clitherall man was arrested Friday afternoon after police responded to a crash at 2 p.m. at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Tower Road. The occupants of the other vehicle, a 27-year-old woman and a 22-year-old woman, were taken to Lake Region Hospital for possible back and neck injuries. The first driver was taken to Lake Region Hospital, where a search warrant was obtained to collect a sample of the man’s blood. The suspect has two prior DWI convictions in the past 10 years. 

The Caboose restaurant and bar in Tracy hosted the first round of the Giant Jenga Tournament last Friday, writes Steve Browne of the Marshall Independent. The winners have a chance to win a trip for four to a Twins Game. Browne explains the game: “Jenga is a game played with 54 rectangular blocks. Players start with the blocks laid in courses of three, each course at right angles to the one below. Players take turns removing a block from a lower course at least two from the top using only one hand, and laying them at the top to make the tower taller. All without toppling the tower.” The event is staged by deejay Terry Nelson, who runs Jenga tournaments all over the state. “I’d been deejay-ing about 10 years and I was burned out on karaoke,” Nelson said. “I brought this to Brian’s Supper Club in Fulda and 48 people entered. Now every place I’ve been to they’ve rescheduled at least two more times.” Caboose owner John Edwards agreed to organize a tournament to take place in five rounds. The next four rounds will be February 8, March 7, March 21, and March 29. First prize is four tickets to a Twins game. Second prize is $100. Third prize is a $50 gift certificate to The Caboose. “The nice thing about Jenga is, it’s simple, it’s fun, and nobody has any real advantage over anyone else,” Nelson said.

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