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Downtown business owner named Community Member of the Month

Brenda Billman-Arndt owns Purple Fern Bath Company and is active in the downtown Brainerd community.

Brenda Billman-Arndt, Destination Downtown Business Challenge winner, no longer has to dream to open her own downtown boutique as Purple Fern Bath Company opened its doors last week. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch
Brenda Billman-Arndt, Destination Downtown Business Challenge winner, no longer has to dream to open her own downtown boutique as Purple Fern Bath Company opened its doors last week. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Brenda Billman-Arndt is Brainerd’s Community Member of the Month for March.

Owner of Purple Fern Bath Co. on Laurel Street, Billman-Arndt is an active member of the downtown community, serving as president of the Destination Downtown Business Coalition and a member of the city’s parking commission.

“She’s a doer,” Mayor Dave Badeaux said during the city council’s meeting Monday, March 15.

As a parking commission member, Badeaux said Billman-Arndt hit the ground running and always does her homework and comes prepared.

“Brenda is a rare and precious combination of being an idea generator and someone who rolls up her sleeves and does the work. Brainerd is better because of Brenda,” Mary Devine Johnson, of Visit Brainerd, wrote in a nomination for Billman-Arndt.

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Purple Fern Bath Co. opened in downtown Brainerd in 2018 after Billman-Arndt won the Destination Downtown Business Challenge.

“This is just a community member that exemplifies what this award is for, and not just for what she does for businesses downtown but what she’s actually done with stepping up and being a part of our city as well,” Badeaux said.
When asked about the award Tuesday, Billman-Arndt said she is honored but doesn’t do the work she does for recognition.

“I just look to make changes and make downtown Brainerd a better place for everybody,” she said.

In other business Monday, the council:

Approved a cost share agreement with Crow Wing County for the 2021 street striping project at a cost of $20,868.06.

Authorized the police department to hire another community service officer after the resignation of Masen Barton in January.

Authorized the civil service commission to establish a new police officer eligibility list, as the current list has been exhausted, with the last two candidates in the final process of background checks. The police department is budgeted for 27 officers but only has 22 right now.

Approved a property tax refund for Greg Jedlenski, who requested his property on Dal-Mar Drive be placed in the city’s rural service district last year. The council approved the request, and Jedlenski requested a refund for the difference in property taxes he paid for 2012-19 compared to what he would have paid had the property been in the rural service district the whole time. The council determined he should have been in the rural service district to begin with and approved the $4,444.62 refund.

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Accepted the resignation of Ed Menk from the Economic Development Authority.

Appointed the following residents to city commissions: Andrew Shipe, charter commission; Jan Lambert, charter commission and transportation advisory committee; Wayne Erickson, Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

Heard the city is planning a weeklong sesquicentennial celebration Sept. 18-25 and will kick off the week with a time capsule.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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