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  • Grant Merritt

Downtown Whiteville cleanup strikes up community pride

Downtown Whiteville got a little bit cleaner Saturday morning when volunteers from multiple civic and fitness organizations came together to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirty in the process of making the streets, curbs, storefronts and flowerbeds shine a little brighter before the busy fall season activities and events.

Todd Burney trims tall weeds and grass in front of the

Columbus County Arts Council Saturday morning.

Sean Martin, economic development planner for the City of Whiteville, said the downtown cleanup event was a tremendous opportunity for people to come together as a community and build pride in trying to revitalize downtown. “We’ve got so many groups represented out here. We’ve got F3, FiA, Optimist Club, Juniorettes, Carolyn T. High Garden Club — I’m sure I’m leaving some out, but we’ve got such a good turnout.” We want to kick off the season — really the downtown season — and show how proud we are of this community. Anything we can do that’s impacting our sidewalks, the curbs, the streets — anything we can get our hands on to make it a little better, we’ve certainly done it today.

Martin explained that the cleanup event was all possible with the help of the City’s Public Works department with using the street sweeper, cleaning up the roads and picking up the trash bags that were left on the curb. He said it really takes a community effort to pull off something like this.

Joan McPherson, director of member relations with the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, said the downtown cleanup was a huge success. She explained that people demonstrated their pride for Whiteville, and that it was one of many steps in continuing improvement. “We were so excited to see all the participants,” McPherson said. “The cleanup was a result of much collaboration between all involved.” McPherson said she is looking forward to downtown Whiteville hosting the Kevin Connor Memorial Run on Saturday, Around the Corner Market on Oct. 26, N.C. Pecan Harvest Festival on Nov. 2 and Mistletoe Market the first weekend in December.

Jordan Carter clips shoots off a tree. Volunteers spent the morning

sprucing up downtown Whiteville’s appearance.

Jennifer Holcomb, president of the Chamber, said she was “super excited about the great turn-out.” She saw members of the Whiteville Rotary Club, Chamber and Junior Woman’s Club in addition to the volunteers Martin saw. “At the Chamber, we often hear people have ideas about what should be done,” Holcomb said. “That’s great, but without people to do them, we get nowhere. We’re excited and thankful for every person who showed up and gave selflessly to make sure this community is pretty and can prosper.”

Holcomb explained that many people want to see growth in downtown Whiteville, and those people are taking time out of their busy schedules to give back to the community to “make it look good, prettier and more conducive to shoppers.”

Erica Evans sweeps beside the median on Madison Street in downtown

Whiteville Saturday morning during a city-wide volunteer cleanup effort.

Mary Wheatley of FiA (Females in Action) said heard about downtown Whiteville cleanup from Melissa Williamson. “She got this thing together because she was tired of hearing all the negative comments about downtown Whiteville and wanted to do something about it,” Wheatley explained. “I know that we’re here to clean up, but she went as far as to contact store owners to see if we could decorate store fronts with artwork from the city schools.” Wheatley said she wants to make downtown look good and be proud of it.

“We have raked, pulled weeds, picked up trash, weed-eat and blown – you name it, we’ve done it. I am here on behalf of FiA, and my son, Price, came on behalf of Boy Scout Troop 513.” Joey Butler of F3 (Fitness, Faith and Fellowship) said he enjoyed his time with the cleanup effort. “The community coming together and the fellowship was awesome,” Butler said. “Poor Whiteville needs saving and the community needs to get involved to make it happen.”

Frankye Boone-Newkirk of GirlTrek said it was important to get involved in the community cleanup because of the fellowship with others and sharing common goals. “By cleaning up, you are investing in your community which gives you a sense of pride,” Boone-Newkirk said. “The cleanup was amazing with everyone helping each other and working together with positive vibes.”

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