Beautifying Valley City One Project at a Time

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By TR Staff
The Valley City Beautification Committee is continuing its efforts to beautify Valley City.
Bobby Koepplin, a committee member, spoke with the Times-Record about some of the work that the committee has done over the years and what the plans are for the future.
Koepplin talked about the benefits of planting new trees, especially since Valley City has a history of losing many trees to Dutch Elm Disease, caused by excessive fungi spread by bark beetles.
"Trees remove carbon dioxide, provide shade and beauty to the city," Koepplin said. "Last year we planted trees and shrubs around the Post Office parking lot, on the boulevards of City County Health and at the north end of the Our Saviors Lutheran Church/City Parking lot with a $10,000 grant from the North Dakota Forest Service."
The committee hosts seminars for tree and shrub trimming/pruning and encourage grounds keepers, VC Parks & Public Works employees, area tree trimmers and the general public to attend and learn with them.
And trees are not the only things the committee takes care of. They established Adopt-A-Street for cleanup of key entrances and streets into and around Valley City by volunteers from local organizations; in partnership with the City, they also started an annual clean-up week held in the beginning of May, which offers residents a chance to get rid of excessive household clutter and garbage, dispose of dead branches and clean up their property; they annually place 16 planters on Central Avenue and Main Street and have been involved in the Streetscape development planned for Central Avenue.  
"I think at the end of the day, you can look back and say we've made a difference in Valley City,” Koepplin said. “We want people to come visit, live, work, and play here."
One of the group’s largest projects is the Hi-Line Prairie Gardens and Orchard, which covers a 4-acre area at the corner of 9th Street and 5th Avenue NE. The Orchard project is in partnership between the VC Beautification Committee, VCSU and the City of Valley City.
Future projects look to include walkways, a parking lot, signage and kiosks, more pollinator gardens, a native grass area, a rain garden, gazebo, bridge, benches and bike rack.
Committee members plan to establish a trail east of the VCSU campus on the south side of the river and along the old railroad line west and northwest of Valley City.
The Beautification Committee started out as a sub-committee of the Chamber of Commerce, receiving a small budget annually but has since changed sponsors, now under the City of Valley City.
Other projects the group has done over the past years by leveraging thousands of dollars in grants and donations from Valley City citizens include:
2001: 112 woodbine vines and 18 honeysuckles planted at the water treatment pond fence.
2002: Provided input into Interstate 94 entrance and Winter Show plantings; water treatment pond southeast corner, Youth Sports Complex and 12th Street water tower plantings.
2003: Planting at the Valley City-Barnes County Public Library.
2004: Rosebud Visitor Center landscaping; Downtown Design Guidelines project; - revised Valley City tree ordinance and tree planting brochure; added 16 green garbage cans downtown.
2005: Plantings at the tennis court; city tree inventory; and drafted City portable sign ordinance.
2006: Planting of 35 trees at the Smith Lumber block.
2008: Seventy-one more vines planted for the water treatment pond fence and installation of cedar planters and garbage cans.
2009: Planting of 57 trees on Winter Show Road; Rosebud Centennial Wall Project – dig up plants, lay sod, scrape wall, sand railings; planting of two trees south of the Hi-Liner Activity Center; and removal of old Christmas rope lighting.
2010: Removed dead trees from Courthouse Square.
2011: Courthouse Square landscaping – 12 trees, 13 arborvitae, 10 spirea.
2012: Courthouse Square landscaping – 39 juniper, 16 yew, 4 arborvitae, 2 viburnum; Courthouse Boulevard – 26 trees.
2013: 13th Avenue Southeast screening project - 50 trees and shrubs.
2014: Planting on Viking Drive Southwest – 29 trees and shrubs; and Jefferson School – 11 trees.
2015: Planting on Chautauqua Boulevard – four trees; and planning for the Hi-Line Prairie Gardens and Orchard.
2016: Hi-Line Prairie Gardens and Orchard planting – 20 deciduous trees, 49 fruit and nut trees and shrubs; planting 60 trees at Hanna Field; planting 41 trees at Barnes County North and planting seven trees on Chautauqua Boulevard.
2017: Thirty-six burr oaks planted between 4th Street and Viking Drive SW and 68 fruiting shrubs planted at Hi-Line Prairie Gardens and Orchard.
"You don't get a second chance to leave a first impression," is Koepplin's motto and it is fair to say that the committee has left quite an impression with the trimming, cleanup and planting greenscape developments within our town.
The Beautification Committee has 24 volunteers that holds a planning meeting each spring. They are always looking for more volunteers, encouraging interested parties to contact Chairman, Robert Falk at 701-845-9427 or Bobby Koepplin at 701-840-0250.