Columbia Heights has become the first place Minnesota since 2005 to be named an "All-American City' by the National Civic League (NCL).
The north metro community is one of 10 U.S. locations to win the honor in 2016, with city dignitaries including Mayor Gary Peterson and Police Chief Scott Nadeau traveling to Denver to take part in the All-American City Conference this past weekend.
According to the NCL, 19 places in Minnesota have been the recipient of the award since the program's inception in 1949, with Bemidji and Minneapolis the state's first winners in 1952.
The NCL gives the honor to towns, cities, counties, tribes, neighborhoods and metropolitan regions for "outstanding civic accomplishments." that have "impact, inclusiveness, public engagement and the use of collaborative problem-solving strategies linking the private, public and nonprofit sectors."
Why did Columbia Heights win it?
This year the focus was on helping children be healthy and successful, and Columbia Heights put forward its bid on highlighting the success it's had with a collaboration between its police and school system.
This includes its Cops N Kids program – which helps engage students outside the classroom through basketball.
It also highlighted its "City of Peace" initiative set up in the wake of 9/11 that has led to community building projects designed to promote harmony in the city, which is now enjoying its lowest crime levels in 40 years.
This initiative continues to move forward with the creation of the "City of Peace Park," which will see a new community building erected on a dilapidated lot near LaBelle Park.
Finally, at a time when other cities have been cutting library services, the city pointed out it has invested $9.3 million to build a new public library that will officially open this Saturday.
Police Chief Nedeau told WCCO: "We’re not an affluent community. We’re very diverse community and yet the people in this community have made the conscious decision that we’re going to continue to try and do better for our kids because they are the future of our community."
Previous Minnesota winners
Here's a list of all the cities and communities in Minnesota that have been named "All-American Cities."
Brooklyn Center 1985-86
Fergus Falls 1980-81
Minneapolis 1952, 1963
South St. Paul 1990
St. Cloud 1973
St. Paul 1955, 1983-84
Twin Cities 1971
White Bear Lake 1964