Bemidji's participation in America in Bloom began in 2005 with planting and cleanup efforts around town.
America in Bloom Judges Evelyn Alemanni and Diane Clasen toured the town that July and recommended improvements. The judges also awarded Bemidji that first year with the Community Environmental Award.
Alemanni and Clasen will return to Bemidji Aug. 23-24 to see how the community has developed according to their recommendations.
Jean Humeniuk, who spearheaded Bemidji's participation in America in Bloom, and committee members Linda Autrey of the Downtown Development Authority, City Clerk Kay Murphy and Parks and Recreation Director Marcia Larson, cited multiple advances the city has made in the beautification criteria in the last five years:
- Diamond Point Park renovations completed.
- Bemidji City Park renovations underway.
- Midway Drive improvements and median plantings.
- Bemidji Avenue, Irvine Avenue, Birchmont Drive and Nymore streets upgrades.
- Downtown Business Revitalization with 18 businesses participating.
- Bemidji Public Library and Tourist Information Center grounds improvements.
- Front Yard Gardens program with 37 individual properties participating.
- Park Partners Program.
- South shore redevelopment/Bemidji Regional Event Center underway.
- Sustainability coordinator position at Bemidji State University initiated.
- Downtown kiosk and planters program.
- Birchmont Drive rainwater gardens.
- Expanded Sculpture Walk.
- New city Public Works Facility.
- Business landscaping and floral displays.
- New bicycle trail from Library Park to Diamond Point Park.
- Reorganization of the Garden Club.
- Reuse study for the Carnegie Library.
- Register of Historic Places.
- Masonic Lodge-Wild Rose Theater partnership.
- Parkland dedication.
- Tree Preservation ordinance.
- City parking lot improvements.
- Beltrami County Courthouse renovation and landscaping.
- J.W. Smith Elementary School Forest.
- Solway Elementary School Garden.
- Bemidji Community Food Shelf Garden.
- Beltrami County Master Gardeners plant sale, County Fair and garden tours.
"We want to keep the momentum going," Humeniuk said.
Autrey said Project Pride Cleanup Night will be 4-7 p.m. May 4 with a party following at Keg N Cork. Business owners and apartment dwellers are asked to weed sidewalks, pick up and dispose of trash and sweep sand into the streets. Although the city will not remove trash items left curbside this year as part of budget cutbacks, she reminded residents to take their throw-aways to the transfer station in the Bemidji Industrial Park. The Cleanup Night rain date will be May 5.
Autrey also urged volunteers to adopt downtown city planters. The color scheme for flowers this year is purple and yellow, she said.
Larson encouraged volunteers to join the Park Partners program to help maintain city parks. She also announced the Shoreline Naturalization Program planned for planting 500 feet of shoreline at Cameron Park in June.
Humeniuk said residents can enter their Front Yard Gardens into the program. Gardens will have a photo published in the Bemidji Pioneer and a written profile of plantings. To enter a garden, call her at 444-4924.
Humeniuk also will submit columns reminding residents of the eight criteria by which America in Bloom judges rate cities.
For more information, go to Americainbloom.org.