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Planning committees hold open house

Brent Sicard, of Lueken’s Village Foods, presents his planning subcommittee’s work on their vision for Bemidji Wednesday at Bemidji High School. Eleven subcommittees presented as part of the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board’s comprehensive planning process. John Hageman|Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI – Pamela Kelsey cares about downtown.

She and her husband have had their business, Kelsey’s Jewelry, in downtown Bemidji for 39 years. So she jumped at the opportunity to shape the area’s future.

“It’s the heart and soul of the community,” Kelsey said.

She was at Bemidji High School Wednesday night to show what she and her fellow community members have been working on during the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board’s (JPB) comprehensive planning process. Eleven science fair-like presentations were on display, each focusing on a different aspect of the community, like parks or transportation.

Mayana Rice, the JPB’s planning administrator, said the public meeting allowed community-led groups to present their work and gather feedback from the public.

Rice said the subcommittees will continue working before having another public open house in June. All that work will translate into the area’s comprehensive plan, which will likely be finished in the fall, Rice said.

There’s still time for anyone to get involved in the planning process, she added.

“Every step of the way, we want public input,” Rice said.

Brent Sicard, CEO of Lueken’s Village Foods, was on hand to present his committee’s work on a vision for Bemidji.

“And we feel like Bemidji has a lot of amazing pieces, but we represented it as a puzzle with a few missing pieces,” Sicard said. He said promoting entrepreneurial spirit and protecting the area’s environment were among the key focuses for the group.

Paul Diehl, a Bemidji Chamber of Commerce ambassador and president of Diehl Project Management, hasn’t been part of the planning committee work. But he did participate when the Minnesota Design Team, a group of planners and architects from across the state, visited in September.

That visit kicked off the planning process now underway.

“I think the wonderful thing is that it did not stop there,” Diehl said. “So I’m seeing some excitement in Bemidji.”

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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