A posthumous award for St. Paul’s “environmental steward”

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Pete Emeott probably never figured he’d win any awards for picking up other people’s trash. Today, he’ll do just that — a month after his death.

Emeott, who died at age 60 on March 8, is one of a dozen businesses and individuals to receive a sustainability award today from the city of St. Paul.

The Battle Creek resident was a trusty volunteer for the District 1 neighborhood cleanups, recalls City Council President Kathy Lantry. For 25 years, he organized crews of volunteers to pick up old computer parts and other waste materials and recyclables from the homes of seniors and disabled people. The crews then hauled the items to a community collection site.

“Honest to god, I can picture his trailer,” Lantry recalled over the phone, between laughter and tears. “He just had this big pickup truck, and his trailer was really long, like 20 feet long. The bigger the trailer, the more you could pick up.”

Less than two months before he died, Emeott emailed friends and family with a sobering update on his fight with cancer. And he was reflective about his relationships with people: “Thanks to all for being my friend whether you want to be or not.”

Lantry believes Emeott pitched in with the cleanup year after year because he understood that “we all have responsibilities as citizens,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to rely on people, but you could always rely on Pete.”

Emeott won the award for “exceptional environmental steward.”

Hats off to him and the rest of the winners, noted below along with their respective categories:

Humboldt High School, environmental education and awareness. Students built raised vegetable beds and planted native gardens around the school that create habitat and rain gardens to capture water run-off from roofs.

WasteFree Rondo Partnership, youth leadership. The partnership created the “Collard Green Team” to divert waste and inform attendees of Rondo Days events — many of whom were their own parents and grandparents — on the importance of protecting the environment.

Hmong Village, green practices. Co-founder Yong Yia Vang worked with Ramsey County’s public-health staff to design and implement recycling and composting into this large commercial operation while honoring the Hmong culture.

Friends of the Mississippi River’s Mississippi River Gorge Stewardship Program, natural resources restoration. FMR has organized several educational and restoration events at Crosby Park with a total of 486 volunteers contributing 1,173 hours of volunteer labor towards restoration activities at the site.

J & J Distributing, energy efficiency and conservation. The company replaced their entire lighting system with Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting and redesigned their refrigeration system.

District 1 ComeClean! Initiative, clean-up and beautification.

Concerned about litter in the SunRay and Suburban Avenue area, resident Sue Moyer worked with the neighborhood council and local businesses to get involved in this litter-pickup program.

First National Bank Building, transportation options. This landmark building installed Minnesota’s first public electric-vehicle charging station and continues to encourage employees to bike, walk, carpool, and take public transportation.

GovDelivery, green product. By providing digital platforms that allow government agencies to communicate with the public, GovDelivery helps clients reduce budget expenses associated with printing and mailing of publications.

The Lyric at Carleton Place, green building. The artsy housing community is an early demonstration of quality, sustainable, market-rate housing on University Avenue, future home of Central Corridor light rail. The building consumes about 22 percent less energy per year than an average apartment building of the same size.

Warners’ Stellian Appliance, waste reduction, recycling and composting. The company has recycled appliances for years. It recently has focused on reducing packaging and installed a Styrofoam compactor, one of only two in the state.

Parks and Recreation Department’s Operations Division, sustainable city staff In 2010, city workers resurfaced a parking lot at the Como Central Service Facility and created a rain garden to protect the water quality of the Mississippi River.

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