Brainerd Community Education Director Paul Bloom did not know why he had to give a brief presentation to the Brainerd Noon Sertoma Club Wednesday at Bonanza Restaurant in Baxter, but he fit it into his tight schedule.
Little did he know the brief presentation was a scam to get him to the restaurant where Bloom was named 2002 Brainerd Citizen of the Year.
"This is total shock. I had no clue but I'm happy to accept it," Bloom told the Sertomans after receiving the honor. "I don't know if I'm worthy, but I don't care. ... I hope I can live up to the honor."
Brainerd School District Assistant Superintendent Gary Phillips said the honor fits Bloom well since he works with all age groups in the community and he is always open to new ideas.
Phillips is the one who persuaded Bloom to attend Wednesday's meeting. He told Bloom he had to help give a small presentation to the group regarding work of the Franklin Junior High School Task Force.
After Bloom received the honor, Steven Augustinack, director of media technology in the Brainerd School District, said he is impressed with Bloom's vision and how he can get things done.
After the Sertoma meeting in a separate interview, Bloom said when he arrived at Bonanza he was worried about what he would say about the task force. Then when Nancy Cross, executive director of Brainerd Community Action, asked Bloom to step up front she made the announcement and shocked Bloom.
Bloom said it is a wonderful honor and that in the past he was the one who had to try to get the Citizen of the Year to the location needed. He had to get former Brainerd Superintendent Bob Gross to a location in 1987 for the honor.
Bloom has worked as the Brainerd Community Education director since 1985 and said he enjoys what he does and he continues to work in the field because he loves it.
Bloom is a Grand Rapids High School graduate. He graduated from Bemidji State University with a major in art and a minor in physical education. He also completed graduate courses at St. Cloud State University and Minnesota State University, Moorhead.
Before Bloom took on his current position he was an art teacher in Brainerd for 10 years. He also was a boys' gymnastics coach. When he saw an opening for the Community Education director he thought it would be a new challenge.
Bloom has been involved in many committees and organizations in the community. He is a member of the Brainerd Noon Sertoma Club; the Swingin' Sertomans Band for 14 years; the Crossing Arts Alliance; Minnesota Community Education; the Lakes Area Community Education Consortium; Bridges of Hope board of directors; Mobilizing Our Dreams Administration Board and Life Long Learning Committee, which are both part of the Blandin Community Investment Partnership; Coordinating Area Resources Effectively for Crow Wing County Community Education Subcommittee; CARE Children and Families Subcommittee; Community Asset Builders; the Franklin Task Force; Kids Vote Committee; and Trinity Lutheran Church.
Bloom and his wife, Sandra, have two adult children.
Nominating Bloom for the award were Judy Kidder, Youth as Resources director; Joan Johnson, chairperson of Catholic Charities; and Julie Despot, who sits on the board of directors of CARE.
Bloom will be honored at the Distinguished Service Awards Banquet Nov. 18 at Madden's on Gull Lake. Awards also will be given for Outstanding Young Citizen, Outstanding Youth Volunteer, Outstanding Young Farmer, Outstanding Firefighter, Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer, Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year and Outstanding Child Care Provider.
Bloom joins 28 other outstanding Brainerd citizens who have been named Citizen of the Year.
That list includes: Elmer Johnson (1974), Marvin Campbell (1975), George Bedard (1976), Mildred Michaelis (1977), Herb Kessler (1978), Lucille Shaw (1979), Walter Doran (1980), Ray Bang (1981), Jack Echternacht (1982), Pete Humphrey (1983), Ray Madison (1984), Birney Wilkens (1985), Jack Ruttger (1986), Bob Gross (1987), Marv Nutting (1988), Sara Dunlap (1989), Tom Isle (1990), Dick Endres (1991), Bill Van Essen (1992), Hanspeter Borgwarth (1993), Jon Haapajoki (1994), Arnie Johnson (1995), Sister Vivian Arts (1996), Warren Williams (1997), Ruth Gmeinder (1998), Kevin Thesing (1999), Terry McCollough (2000) and Bonnie Cumberland (2001).
The Citizen of the Year is chosen by a selection committee made up of past Citizens of the Year and representatives from the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce, the Crow Wing County volunteer coordinator, financial institutions, clergy, businesses, labor and Community Action board members. The general criteria for the award is that the nominee's volunteer services are above and beyond normal employment or business pursuits and the services performed contributed to the welfare of the Brainerd/Baxter trade area.
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