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City Pride and Beautification Commission kicks off summer projects to pretty-up the city

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Little things can make a big difference.

That’s the idea the Ogdensburg Pride and Beautification Commission has in mind as it kicks of two projects that members hope will improve the appearance of two high-traffic areas in the city.

In the first, the commission has acquired more than 100 American and garden flags with poles to be distributed to any Ford Street homeowners or businesses who want them. Commission Chairwoman Mary Ann Narenkivicius said members will be going door to door to distribute them, and will hang them for anyone who is unable to do so themselves.

She credited Ford Street resident Charlene A. Widrick with the idea, and said it came up after a Nova special aired about how people’s eyes — and therefore attention — tend to be automatically drawn upward. She said the hope is that hanging flags above eye level will improve the feel and appearance of the street because they will naturally draw the eye of passersby on the high-traffic street.

She said hanging a flag might seem like a small thing, but it could have a big impact on a neighborhood.

“If someone near you does something to improve their property, it makes you want to do it, too,” Mrs. Narenkivicius said.

If the effort succeeds, she said, the commission will make it more widespread next summer.

The flags were donated by local businesses and community members.

“It was a nice community effort,” she said.

The commission has also partnered with Brandi Jones of Ogdensburg and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to bring an artistic touch to the white, plastic trash barrels in the city’s parks.

She said Ms. Jones, an Ogdensburg native who moved back to the area a few years ago from Auburn, had wanted to do something to improve the city’s looks. She approached the commission with an idea about painting the trash barrels in a style that mimics masters’ works, teaching children and teens about art along the way.

It was an idea the commission enthusiastically embraced, Mrs. Narenkivicius said.

Ms. Jones said when she returned to the area with her family three years ago, she noticed some negatives about the city’s appearance and wanted to bring some beauty back to its landscape.

“We have to do something,” she said. “I think if people see this and they can take community pride in it, it will enhance the community itself.”

She is holding a series of art camps for children in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department, the first of which started Tuesday. Ms. Jones said the trash barrels project is so far a hit with kids.

“I had bout 10 elementary kids and five teenagers doing it today,” she said. “We finished three today with a nautical theme, and next week we will do some with animals. We’re also looking at incorporating the work of old masters like van Gogh and Monet, and talk about them while we’re doing it.”

In all, about a dozen barrels will be painted.

“We are hoping to unveil them at a community pride night that is still in the planning stages,” Mrs. Narenkivicius said.

The night is tentatively set for Aug. 8 and will include food, music, and entertainment for children.

Ms. Jones said she hopes the project will help instill a sense of community pride in the children who participate.

“We want the kids to see their own art represented throughout the city,” Ms. Jones said.

Ms. Jones’s art camps are held every Tuesday for children in kindergarten through sixth grade from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Lockwood Arena, and every Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the arena for teens.

The camps are free to participants. Materials are supplied by the Pride and Beautification Commission.

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