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PIONEER EDITORIAL: City stepped up to beautify downtown

Our quaint downtown Bemidji looked better than ever this summer thanks to a decision by the city and the Bemidji Downtown Alliance. The city’s parks department hired Josh Kaney for the summer to help keep downtown public spaces and sidewalks tidy, and it made a noticeable difference.

“We’ve heard a lot of positive comments from the BDA, downtown businesses and the city council,” said Parks and Recreation Director Marcia Larson. “Josh did a fabulous job, and interacted well with business owners and visitors.”

Larson said she hopes to be able to do the same in future years.

“We were thrilled that the city did that,” said BDA President Colleen Bakken of Harmony Natural Foods Co-op. “While business owners do what they can, there are a lot of public spaces that sometimes either get heavier use or maybe get overlooked. The idea of somebody going around and being able to weed-whack weeds or just clean up areas that had some extra use, we've heard nothing but positive.”

Kudos also to the groups and individuals who plant and maintain the adopt-a-planter boxes in the downtown area.

Welcome Park Place

Park Place Apartments, a Center City Housing project in Bemidji for the homeless and individuals suffering from addiction, will officially open Friday with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The building, located at 598 Third St. NW, and is an estimated $10.8 million 60-unit apartment complex. It has 40 units dedicated to single-room occupancy for chronic alcoholics and 20 efficiency apartments for the recently homeless.

The goal for Center City Housing is to give a safe place to live for those who are homeless or facing addiction issues, while facilitating their needs through services such as addiction treatment and mental health care. The complex will have about 20 employees with at least one person on the premises at all times. Park Place Apartments will also have a half-time nurse from Sanford Health and two full-time caseworkers from the Upper Mississippi Mental Health Center, which was recently purchased by Sanford.

Homelessness and addiction are two of the region's most challenging social issues, and this project is one more step toward facing those challenges.

Cruising for 10 years

For 10 years, the First City of Arts Studio Cruise has been a wonderful fall event in the Bemidji area. This year was no exception, as 25 artists welcomed visitors into their studios to show and sell their work. Newcomers to Bemidji are often surprised by the area's artistic talent, whether it be music, theater, literature or art. The Studio Cruise celebrates that talent, while also allowing folks to enjoy the beauty of autumn. Thanks to the organizers who work to make the Cruise a reality, and to sponsors like Paul Bunyan Communications, Visit Bemidji, Watermark Art Center and The Old Schoolhouse.

The Bemidji Pioneer is proud to be among the sponsors that help make this event successful.