A growing partnership between the city and private groups is rapidly changing the appearance of downtown Laurinburg.
In the past week alone two groups have joined city beautification staff in placing flowers in downtown planters and in turning a failed fountain in front of the AB Gibson Center into a colorful memorial to a longtime city servant.
“I hope this will start a chain reaction,” said City Arborist Rodney Byrd after supervising the Scotch Gardeners Club as they planted perennials in the large planting containers on Main Street.
Club president Nancy Reichner contacted the city earlier this year to volunteer the group’s services, Byrd said.
On Tuesday, 15 club members took part in the planting work.
According to Reichner, the club chose the project because of the pride that its members take in the appearance of downtown Laurinburg.
“We intend to continue helping out even if no one else does,” Reichner said.
Thankfully, Byrd said that he doesn’t think that will be a problem.
A similar project involving volunteers from Lighthouse International Church saw 30 church members planting flowers and bushes in front of the high-traffic AB Gibson Center.
The planting was done inside of a large fountain that was sitting vacant after it stopped working more than a year ago.
“The church took the lead by contacting (Laurinburg’s) Community Development Department and asking how they could help,” explained Byrd.
Church Outreach Coordinator Larry Smith said that the church was looking for a way to give back to the community and to “help make Laurinburg a great place to live.”
The abandoned fountain-turned-flower bed now serves as a memorial to former Laurinburg Mayor Ann Slaughter.
“Laurinburg has a lot of potential and these two groups reaching out to help is exactly what it will take for our community to realize its potential,” said City Planner Brandi Deese.
“But it cannot be just one or two entities … it is going to take us all working together.”
The work of the volunteer groups comes only a week after the announcement that the city would be including nearly $90,000 in new beautification funds in its 2013-14 budget.
Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker said that those funds were added after public input sessions held earlier this year made it clear to the city that improving its appearance was a priority for residents.
The volunteer project also took place in the midst of ongoing work paid for by the Laurinburg Downtown Revitalization Corporation.
Brickwork, repairs and painting are all being done to downtown buildings through the summer as part of the LDRC’s push to make the Central Business District an attractive option for businesses.
“The volunteers are just another example of the partnership that we are promoting for downtown,” said LDRC Executive Director Jim Willis. “When people come out and give of their time, it is a win-win for everybody.”
Those interested in volunteering are invited to contact the Community Development Department at 276-8257.