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Ogdensburg Pride and Beautification Commission reception Sunday

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It began 13 years ago as the result of an idea from then-newly elected Mayor William D. Nelson.

He wanted a committee formed whose mission it is to make the city of Ogdensburg look nicer.

It would be nothing fancy and, with a few thousand dollars of city funds annually to support it, nothing expensive. It was tasked with small improvements that would go a long way, like painted fire hydrants, trash barrels with special designs, Christmas lighting in the Greenbelt. And much, much more.

So it was that the Ogdensburg Pride and Beautification Commission was created in spring 2000. On Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Dobisky Center, 100 Riverside Ave., commission members will say thanks with an appreciation reception that is open to the public.

But, the festivities aside, it is another year and the commission has plenty of work to do.

“We are continuing in our efforts to light up the long winter here in Ogdensburg by purchasing more holiday lights,” said Mary Ann Narkenkivicius, commission chairwoman. “With (Ogdensburg Parks and Recreation Director) Matt Curatolo’s guidance we are planning to light up more trees on Washington Street in front of the (Centennial Riverview) towers and the Lake Street pedestrian bridge.”

That’s not all.

“We also are working on having Ogdensburg being designated as a daffodil city,” Mrs. Narenkivicius said. “Last fall, we planted many daffodil bulbs in many areas of the city. We also are planning a project to paint the white trash barrels, perhaps have a contest.”

The commission meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Dobisky Center. The public is encouraged to attend.

“We welcome new ideas,” Mrs. Narenkivicius said. “At the beginning and end of each year we spend time brainstorming for new different ideas to make our hometown better.”

She is pretty certain the commission’s touch has left Ogdensburg looking nicer.

“We have painted fire hydrants, placed dog refuse bags, benches, and trash receptacles in almost every area,” she said. “We have placed flower boxes in several areas. We have sent notes of appreciation to many of our neighbors when they have improved their property. We have added summer and winter banners to the entrances of our city. We have added lighted snowflakes and garland to the downtown area and holiday scenes and lights to the Greenbelt.”

The city’s allocation dropped from $5,600 in 2012 to $3,000 this year. The commission isn’t bitter, understanding that the economy is tight.

“Certainly we understand that there is only so much money to be distributed to the various groups from the city’s budget,” Mrs. Narenkivicius said. “Every one of them is very important and deserving.”

So the commission has turned to a generous public.

“We have been involved with many fundraisers over the past few years to augment our city funding,” Mrs. Narenkivicius said.

The donors’ names can be found on “leaves” on the commission’s Appreciation Tree that was recently hung on a wall at the Dobisky Center.

“It was designed and made by students at Ogdensburg Free Academy under the guidance of teachers Diane Drayse Alonso and Phil Bicklehaupt,” Mrs. Narenkivicius said. “The people whose names are on the Appreciation Tree have generously given us money.”

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