Brainerd residents who are elderly or disabled and need help shoveling their sidewalks this winter may be in luck.

The city of Brainerd is working to create a list of those who need assistance and of volunteers who can help.

Two years ago, the city’s walkable bikeable committee received a grant from Crow Wing Energized to purchase 48 shovels to get this program off the ground. The group purchased the shovels but was not able to get the project up and running during the first winter before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The walkable bikeable committee — which focused on developing policies and strategies to make the city’s neighborhoods better suited for walking and biking — disbanded earlier this year, so Mayor Dave Badeaux resurrected the shoveling initiative.

“My goal as mayor is to ensure that this project gets off the ground,” Badeaux said in a text message Thursday, Nov. 18. “The details are still being ironed out, but the outpouring of support from volunteers already has been amazing.”

Under city statute, sidewalks must be cleared within 48 hours after a snow event. But for those who have trouble shoveling themselves or finding someone else to do it, that creates hardship.

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Those who are interested in being on the list to have their sidewalks shoveled or volunteering to shovel can call city hall at 218-828-2307 or email Badeaux at dbadeaux@ci.brainerd.mn.us. The list should be limited to those who live in the city of Brainerd and are elderly or disabled.

Badeaux said some youth volunteers, like the Junior Jaycees, have already stepped up to help.

“As elected officials we are tasked with making decisions, but those decisions often come with issues that are not intended,” Badeaux said. “The goal here is to look out for all of our community members and to do so without using tax dollars to solve a problem. There will always be cracks in the system. However, I believe in the importance of finding solutions that also empower the community to support one another and lift us up as a whole.”

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.