Oakdale doles out 2013 “Acorn Awards”

AJ Moses and Ann Ribbens, proactive to protect the environment, won the Oakdale Acorn Award for Green Innovation. (photos by Linda Baumeister/Review)

the Kieffer family won the Oakdale Acorn Award in the residential category. Their blue water fountain is surrounded by perrenials, flowers and stone wall.

Oakcrest Village Townhomes’ landscaping — shrubs, trees, and a gazebo — won the Oakdale Acorn Award in the multi-housing category.

The Oakdale Veteran’s Memorial with personalized paver walkway is an Acorn Award recipient.

Pinz took home the Acorn Award for commercial properties.

Properties honored for stellar curb appeal, environmental practices

Certain properties in Oakdale are extra easy on the eyes, and each year city officials seek to recognize them with a well-deserved “Acorn Award.”

The Acorn Awards are a long-standing tradition in the city and given to properties that go above and beyond general maintenance standards.

The city seeks out nominations from the public and awards properties in the residential, public, multi-family, commercial and green innovation categories. The Oakdale Planning Commission voted to present Dallas and Kyara Kieffer with the residential award and the Oakdale Veterans Memorial with the public award; the Economic Development Commission voted to present Oak Crest Village Townhomes with the multi-family award and PINZ with the commercial award; and the Environmental Management Commission voted to present AJ Moses and Ann Ribbens with the green innovation award.

Winners in attendance for the Aug. 13 Oakdale City Council meeting were presented with their certificates of recognition, and each recipient will have an “Acorn Award” sign posted on their properties.

Residents put care, thought into their homes

The Kieffers, eight-year residents of Oakdale who live at 6396 15th St. N., received three nominations for the residential Acorn Award category.

Their neighbor Bill Rasmussen said he drives by their house every morning and couldn’t help but notice all the improvements the couple was making to their house, so he nominated them for the award this year.

“They did an absolutely fantastic job on that house,” Rasmussen noted.

Kyara Kieffer said she and her husband did all the recent landscaping and other additions themselves, and they were shocked when they found out they would be receiving this year’s residential Acorn Award.

Their yard features a pond with a foundation and water pump, an abundance of hostas and other native flowers, as well as a recently added front porch and new retaining walls.

Also honored for their efforts to make their home both visually attractive and energy efficient were Oakdale residents AJ Moses and Ann Ribbens, who live at 689 Heron Circle N.

They were presented with the green innovation Acorn Award, which is given to recipients who take proactive initiatives to protect the environment.

Moses explained that he and his wife, who he credits as “the brains of the operation,” have taken steps to make both the outside and inside of their home energy efficient. The couple has converted nearly all the lights in their house to compact fluorescent lights, installed a high-efficiency furnace and improved water heater, and added circular fans to reduce the need for air conditioning. Outside, they’ve installed two rain gardens, and channeled all the roof runoff water to underground tiles that drain into the raingardens.

Moses also keeps bees, and says those and other native pollinators are a critical asset to their yard, which boasts about 40 species of native plants and often has multiple species of birds that come to visit every day.

“It’s a symbiotic relationship with the pollinators and success of the garden,” Moses said, adding that he and his wife use hardly any fertilizer and never apply chemicals for pest control or weed control.

The plants grow naturally in a cottage garden-style, Moses said, and the long roots of the plants allow for percolation of water through the topsoil and back into aquifers.

“We have this wonderful appreciation for the natural world,” Moses said, chuckling that it can often be hard to find in suburban areas. “We did it to create our own little oasis right here in Oakdale.”

Other properties honored

In addition to the two Oakdale homes that were recognized, three other properties in the city were also presented with Acorn Awards.

The planning commission voted to award the Oakdale Veterans Memorial, completed in 2012, with an Acorn Award in the public category.

“We put five years of hard work into that,” said Rasmussen, president of the Oakdale Veterans Memorial Committee. “We’re really proud of it.”

The memorial, located just outside Oakdale City Hall, features an intricately landscaped background, water features, flags and a paver walkway. Rasmussen noted there are already 250 pavers at the memorial to honor people who have served in the military, and said there’s room for roughly 500 pavers total.

The Economic Development Commission was tasked with selecting the winners of this year’s Acorn Awards in the multi-family and commercial categories, and selected Oakcrest Village Townhomes and PINZ in their respective categories.

Assistant City Administrator Dave Schaps noted properties selected for Acorn Awards must present no adverse effects on the environment, be visually appealing, and be in existence for at least one year prior to being selected for an Acorn Award to demonstrate that the properties have a track record of being maintained.

Jesse Heinecke, association manager for Cities Management which is the property management firm for Oakcrest Village, said the townhome association’s volunteer board of directors puts a lot of effort into making sure the property is well groomed with grass and shrubs replaced each year.

Recently, the board, which is comprised of all unit owners, also completed a tree pruning update and replaced a large plastic snow fence with tall grasses that act as a natural barrier instead of installing more fencing, Heinecke added.

Alex Holmquist can be reached at aholmquist@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.


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