BELPRE - As spring settles in the Mid-Ohio Valley, the organizers of Belpre in Bloom are gearing up to begin work on this year's projects.
"We haven't really been able to start anything because the weather hasn't been conducive until recently," said Leslie Pittenger, coordinator of Belpre in Bloom and Belpre city auditor.
Last year volunteers met to do the "done in a day" projects where they cleaned flower beds, planted flowers and bushes and cleaned up areas.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Leslie Pittenger, Belpre city auditor and coordinator of Belpre in Bloom, poses with 50 American chestnut trees that will be planted throughout the city this spring as part of the second year of the beautification project.
"Now that the weather seems to be cooperating, we will start doing these done in a day," Pittenger said.
The large projects for this second year of the program include creating a memorial tree park, cleaning up the city's fire hydrants and creating planting beds from old tires.
The tree park will be created at the entrance to the city off of Memorial Bridge at the intersection of Ohio 7/U.S. 50 and Main Street where a green space with trees already is.
"It was suggested to us by the America in Bloom judges who visited last summer," Pittenger said. "It will make a beautiful park."
One of the elements of this new park will be American chestnut trees the city has acquired.
"We have purchased 50 American chestnut trees, which were native to this area and killed off in a blight in the 1980s," Pittenger said. "We are going to plant some in the Howes Grove, Civitan and Memorial parks."
The hope is that of those 50 trees planted, 25 survive, she added.
Students from Belpre Elementary and High schools are painting old vehicle tires, which will be stacked and arranged to be used as planters and dividers in the city's parks.
"The kids seem to be having a great time being involved," Pittenger said. "By having them be part of the projects we hope to get them excited about gardening and helping us with other projects."
The fire hydrant project will be one of the largest in terms of volunteer hours the committee has planned for this year. Boy Scout Troop 19 of Little Hocking will be helping with this project.
"We are getting some great support from volunteers," Pittenger said. "The Boy Scouts and other volunteers will be cleaning and painting all 312 fire hydrants in the city."
All of the hydrants will have the current paint and rust removed and painted sky blue. Between 50 and 100 will be more decorative with vines and flowers added.
Pittenger estimates that each hydrant will take an hour-and-a-half to two hours to be refinished.
The community garden is ready for the second year. Spaces of 10 feet by 20 feet are available for $25 plus a deposit, with the deposit returned if plots are cleaned at the end of the growing season.
Water will be supplied for the gardens with a large rain collection barrel, but gardeners will have to supply tools to maintain their plots.
Applications for the garden are available in the city building with planting to begin the first weekend of May.