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Three people displaced as Bemidji cleans up camp

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A temporary camp that housed three people was taken down and cleaned up by city employees Friday morning.

City ordinances prohibit camping within the city limits.

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The site, located in the railroad corridor, had been the subject of several complaints, according to city employees.

"There have been numerous complaints about the activity that goes on in those areas," said Bemidji Police officer Tom Charboneau.

The cleanup affected three individuals who were temporarily living in the area, Charboneau said.

All were told that the cleanup would occur, and no conflict occurred, Charboneau said.

"Everybody that was there was agreeable; they knew it wasn't their property," he said.

One woman living on the site requested a few more days so she could arrange for the moving of her belongings. Charboneau said she will have until Friday this week to remove her things.

The payloader was used to remove piles of garbage that were found on site. Trash that was hauled away included at least 20 broken chairs, abandoned tents, tent poles and worn tarps.

Much of the garbage had accumulated throughout the last few years; it did not necessarily belong to those living on site as of last week.

In fact, Charboneau said, those who were living there helped city crews clean up.

"The people helped," he said. "They helped put booze bottles into piles."

But where they went after the area was cleaned up is not known. The Village of Hope homeless shelter might be an option, but it is available to families. Servants of Shelter is a collaboration of local churches that offers a homeless shelter, but it is only open November through March.

Bemidji City Councilor Rita Albrecht represents Ward 4, which includes the area where the camp had been set up. She said Monday that she learned of the cleanup after it had occurred. She said she was pleased that city workers met the woman's request for more time to secure her belongings.

Albrecht said tent communities begin popping up in the spring throughout the city.

In order to find a solution to the area's homeless problems, Albrecht said, the city, county, community at large and business owners will have to collaborate.

"We need to come together," she said.

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