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Two Grand Rapids Residents Sentenced

Two Grand Rapids residents were sentenced Wednesday on drug charges in Itasca County District Court on charges of selling methamphetamine. 49 year old Scott Robin Steckel entered a plea of guilty to two counts of first degree sale of a controlled substance. Steckel was charged with twice selling an ounce of “meth” to a law enforcement informant. His plea agreement, subject to approval of the court, is for 13 ½ years in prison. His sentence will run concurrent with a drug trafficking sentence from the state of Nevada.
Debra Kay Anderson had already pled guilty to two counts of a controlled substance. On Wednesday, Anderson was sentenced Wednesday to 15 ½ years stayed on the first count and 11 years stayed prison on the second count of felony first degree sale on a controlled substance. Anderson will serve ten years on probation and a year in the Itasca County jail along with other terms.
The charges arose from an investigation conducted by the Grand Rapids Police Department, Itasca County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the Boundry Waters Drug Task Force.

By |May 28th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Two Grand Rapids Residents Sentenced|

Grand Rapids Adds Housing

Eight parcels of land in the Lakewood Heights area in Grand Rapids have been rezoned. The Grand Rapids City Council last night held a public hearing about the proposed zoning changes. The zoning ruling changes some parcels from medical use to multi-family, residential, high and medium density.
Also at last night’s Grand Rapids City Council meeting Marcia Anderson gave an update on the Grand Rapids Library, reminding people to check out the website and see the many events happening this summer at the library. The city also entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the Public Works Union.
The next Grand Rapids City Council meeting is June 8th at 5 o’clock.

By |May 27th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Grand Rapids Adds Housing|

Smokrovich Honored for Safety

Last night, soon to be former Grand Rapids High School principal Jim Smokrovich was presented with a Community Service Award. At last night’s Independent School District 318 Board meeting, the Grand Rapids Police Department wanted to show appreciation to Smokrovich for his cooperation with the department and for improving the safety of the students during his last 13 years with the district. Superintendent Dr. Bruce Thomas (audio).
Also at last night’s ISD 318 school board meeting, the public invited to a meeting Wednesday May 27th at Southwest Elementary school. Community input will be taken for the as the board moves forward with plans for two new elementary schools. The first meeting is at 4 and a second meeting is at 6:30.
The board also approved the hiring of Trent Klatt as the Grand Rapids High School head hockey coach.
The next ISD 318 School Board meeting is June 29th at 7 o’clock.

By |May 19th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Smokrovich Honored for Safety|

Police Officer Memorial Week

On this Police Officers Memorial Day, we remember members of law enforcement who were disabled or killed while performing their duties. In Itasca County, five individuals are honored today.
In 1914, Nashwauk Police Officer August Kokko responded to a fight at a boarding house in Nashwauk and was shot. He died of his injuries.
In 1977, Itasca County Deputy Junita Badavinac died in an auto accident while protecting children from a fire.
In 1977, Keewatin Police Officer Donald Mayerie suffered a heart attack following a foot chase of a robbery suspect.
In 1977, Itasca County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Bouchie was killed in a car accident on his way to a fire call.
In 1981, Itasca County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert “Beefy” Lawson was shot and killed serving custody papers.
A short ceremony was held this morning outside the Itasca County Sheriff’s Office.

By |May 15th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Police Officer Memorial Week|

National Police Week

Grand Rapids has proclaimed this week Police Week in honor of Police Week Nationwide. This year, 273 officers who were killed in the line of duty are being added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. The 273 officers include 117 officers who were killed during 2014, and 156 who died in previous years, but whose stories were lost. Over a 101 year period, Itasca County has seen the loss of 5 officers while on Duty.
There will be a live internet stream of Wednesday’s 27th Annual Candlelight Vigil in Washington D.C.. To register for the free event, visit

By |May 12th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on National Police Week|

Blandin Foundation Grants

The Blandin Foundation awarded over 60 grants at its spring meeting. Among them, a $1 million dollar grant for the Reif Center expansion project. The Foundation already contributed $1.5 million towards the project. This is an additional grant.
A $400,000 grant was awarded to the Itasca county Family YMCA for their new Active Living Center. The Center is a collaboration between the City of Grand Rapids, the YMCA, and Eldercircle. Kathleen Annette, Blandin Foundation CEO, said in a statement, “Vibrant communities are fueled by the passion and dedication of local leaders,” said Annette. “Across rural Minnesota, and especially in the Grand Rapids area, we’re continually amazed by what can happen when communities come together. We are grateful to stand with local leaders as they imagine possibilities for a resilient future.”

By |May 11th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Blandin Foundation Grants|

Grand Rapids to Ask for Two Elementary Schools

A referendum will be on the ballot this fall for Independent School District 318. At last night’s ISD 318 school board meeting, the board authorized the administration to move forward with plans to build two new K-5 elementary schools at an estimated cost of $70 million.
The school board gave its approval for administrators to research potential sites. The board also accepted Grand Rapids High School Principal Jim Smokrovich’s resignation. The next school board meeting for ISD 318 is May 18th at 7 o’clock.

By |May 5th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Grand Rapids to Ask for Two Elementary Schools|

Spring Truck Weight Restrictions

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Spring truck weight restrictions on state highways will end Thursday for Minnesota’s Central frost zone, and on Friday for the North-Central and North frost zones, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Ending dates for spring load restrictions vary and are established by monitoring roadway strength as weather conditions change.
The North frost zone extends from Highway 1 at the North Dakota state line east to Highway 89, Highway 89 south to US 2, US 2 east to Highway 33, Highway 33 south through Cloquet to I-35.
The information is also available by calling MnDOT’s 24-hour automated message center at 1-800-723-6543 in the United States and Canada or by calling 651-366-5400.
Travelers in Minnesota can get up-to-date information on road conditions, construction and weather reports by dialing 511 or visiting

By |May 4th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Spring Truck Weight Restrictions|

Pecchia Sentenced

A Nashwauk man was sentenced to six year in prison for the exploitation of a vulnerable relative. Monday, 56 year old Patrick Vincent Pecchia appeared in Itasca County District Court. Pecchia, according to the plea, exploited significant amounts of money from his uncle, using his power of attorney authority from 2007 until his uncle passed away in 2011.
Pecchia’s sentence of 72 months in prison was stayed. Pecchia was placed on 20 years of probation with multiple conditions including serving a year in jail and paying $871,667.09 in restitution. The sentence is consistent with Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. Pecchia is currently being held in the Itasca county Jail.

By |April 28th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Pecchia Sentenced|

Schwirtz Appears in Court

56 year old Robert Edwards Schwirtz made an appearance in Itasca County district Court Monday. Schwirtz has been charged with assault in the second degree and terroristic threats after a stand-off with police on April 10th.
At the hearing, Schwirtz waived his right to an omnibus hearing within 28 days.
Bail was previously set at $100,000 without conditions and $50,000 with conditions. His next court appearance is June 1st.

By |April 21st, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Schwirtz Appears in Court|