New beautification group will solicit volunteers

A new city committee charged with developing plans to improve Vandalia’s appearance will be asking clubs, organizations and churches to join them in that work.
At its Tuesday meeting – one of the first meetings of the small group formed by Mayor Rick Gottman – members of the city’s beautification discussed a letter that had been drafted as a way of getting community members involved in beautification efforts.
The members of the committee – Gottman, chairman Kyle Barker, Joyce Staff and Dorothy Jenkins – agreed that the letter should be sent to all local clubs and organizations.
Barker suggested also sending it to local churches, and Gottman agreed with that idea, saying he thinks it “would be good to get the churches and their youth groups involved.”
Barker said one way of setting up the churches’ involvement is to have each one take on its area of town, similar to the adopt-a-neighbor or adopt-a-road programs that have been done in the past.
Staff said that the committee could also attempt to get children in Vandalia schools involved.
The work done by clubs, organizations, churches and school groups, Barker said, could include helping individuals clean up or improving their properties, and could be something as simple as helping with mowing and getting rid of weeds.
Gottman said that in the fall, assistance could include leaf raking and removal.
The committee’s aim is to help “improve the curb appeal of their properties.”
Committee members agreed to send out the letters in the near future and then, after the holiday season, get back together to begin organizing a plan.
“Once we get a response, we can see what we’re working with (as far as volunteer participation),” Barker said.’
The text of the letter being sent out follows:
The newly formed Beautification Committee for the City of Vandalia has been exploring various ways in which we might enhance the appearance of our community.
In addition to improving the downtown area, we hope to offer encouragement to property owners to improve the curb appeal of their properties. We will strive to address the problems of unsightly houses that may have unkempt yards, cars parked on the boulevard, front porches being used as storage areas, dogs kept in cages or on chains in public areas and other similar detractions.
We realize that economic conditions at this time are not highly favorable to undertaking large projects, but we would like to have enough volunteer participation to accomplish several small ones, which might then encourage others to join our efforts.
With small steps, we hope to develop a vision for a new era in Vandalia, a return to a more picturesque community that would invite people to again embrace the serenity and joy of small-town living.
It is imperative that we have the support of members of organizations such as yours who might be willing to participate in selected projects, one of which is to refurbish the caboose and the neighboring public parking lot at Fifth and Johnson Streets. Our basic purpose at this time is simply to “get started.”
If this sounds at all like something of interest to you, please let one of us know.

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