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Pioneer Viewpoints: Downtown getting some real boosts

We’re encouraged by the good vibes in downtown Bemidji, particularly in light of recent decisions to locate or expand businesses in the city’s core.

This past weekend downtown was buzzing, buoyed by a strong showing at Art in the Park. The weather was perfect, and the Paul Bunyan Vintage Auto Club’s annual show also attracted many people to town.

New shops like Dixie’s Weekend Boutique and Grow Inside, featured in the Pioneer last week, along with the relocation and renaming of the North Country Skate Shop and the expansion of Paul’s Print Shop, make downtown even more attractive.

By the Pioneer’s count, at least 12 businesses have set up shop downtown within the last year or two, or will do so soon.

Bemidji Brewing’s tap room and the Big River Scoop ice cream shop have become big downtown draws.

“We kind of looked around (town) but we wanted to be downtown,” said Jenny Hendricks, who runs Dixie’s Weekend Boutique with her sister, Sandy Rasmus. “We love being down there … the whole downtown community is really great.”

With Crazy Daze and the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival coming up next week, it’s an exciting time for downtown Bemidji.

Leaving a Legacy

Minnesota voters showed foresight in 2008 when they approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, increasing the state sales tax three-eighths of a percent.

About $1.5 billion has been doled out among four funds: outdoor heritage, clean water, parks/trails and arts/cultural since 2008. All 87 counties have benefited. Those funds have contributed heavily to the state’s quality of life.

The Bemidji area has benefited greatly from the funding and will continue to do so.

Mural magic

Speaking of arts and quality of life, we applaid Bemidji’s decision to hire local artist Wesley May to create a mural on the side of the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. The mural will be painted on the east side of the digester building, which faces Paul Bunyan Drive South.

May was chosen from a pool of seven applicants. His design depicts the head of a bald eagle inside a drop of water, as well as wings that appear to double as leaves of a plant.

“People are going to see it and really like it,” said the plant’s co-superintendent, Mike Forbes.