On Tuesday morning the City of St. Cloud held a very special ribbon-cutting ceremony where they officially opened the new 17th Street sidewalk, which stretches from Michigan Avenue to Canoe Creek Road.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, St. Cloud Mayor Nathan Blackwell presented a Key to the City to Charity Best, a young lady who had taken notice of a potentially dangerous situation on 17th Street near St. Cloud High School. That area is heavily used by students that walk to Michigan Avenue Elementary, St. Cloud Middle, and St. Cloud High schools and is a very busy part of 17th Street, yet there was no sidewalk for the students to safely use. Charity decided there needed to be a change, so she began collecting petitions and attended a city council meeting to make her case.

“I just was tired of all the traffic, and I could feel the cars going past me when I was walking to school, and there are so many students who walk to school this way. I have two sisters and one walks to St. Cloud High and one walks to St. Cloud Middle, and I was afraid they would get hit”, said Charity, the daughter of Ray and Lynna Best.

Now a college student, Charity said she collected over 1000 signatures on petitions and lobbied the school district, sheriff’s office, police department and the city asking for the sidewalk.

During the ceremony Tuesday, Mayor Blackwell praised her initiative and tenacity.

“I know that I was impressed, and I’m sure the rest of the Council was impressed, with this young lady who not only saw something in her town that she thought needed fixing, but she took the next step to do something about it,” Blackwell said. “She came and spoke very eloquently at the Council meeting and laid out her case for improving student safety by building a sidewalk. I think we can say this is the ‘Best’ sidewalk.”

The sidewalk was built by NuWave Concrete at a cost of $259,935.50. It was completed in about a month, ahead of schedule.