Twin Cities volunteers send out a message: ‘Let’s Paint the Town’
Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 9:04 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter
By CHRIS MENEES
Volunteers are going to paint the town in Fulton and South Fulton.
“Let’s Paint the Town” — a grassroots community effort to restore and preserve buildings on both the Kentucky side and the Tennessee side of the Twin Cities — is about to get rolling.
Twin Cities Chamber of Commerce executive director Thea Vowell said the project will give residents an opportunity to “take our town back, just one building at a time.”
“It’s going to be wonderful,” she said.
A kickoff meeting held last week at the Pontotoc Community Center in downtown Fulton drew 195 people from both Fulton and South Fulton. They heard from Sam Koltinsky of Princeton, Ky., who shared how the success of the “Let’s Paint the Town” project he implemented in 2006 has impacted his own community and now others where it has spread.
Mrs. Vowell said a couple of people had come to her and discussed the possibility of something to improve the appearance of Fulton and South Fulton and then someone found information online about Princeton’s “Let’s Paint the Town.”
Koltinsky visited last year and expressed a willingness to help with the project locally, but Mrs. Vowell said she was concerned about the magnitude of the effort being more than one person could handle. When Twin Cities resident Jeff Campbell heard about the project, he readily came on board.
Campbell recently retired from the railroad and moved back to the Fulton-South Fulton area.
“All of this started with me taking early retirement and moving back to my home of Fulton/South Fulton about 18 months ago,” he said. “I had seen the town go down, fall on hard times — boarded-up buildings, buildings for rent — and it just tugged at my heart. I could either step up or do nothing.”
Campbell decided to step up and invest in his community, and his first move was working to get a lot with a vacant building donated to the City of Fulton for construction of Campbell Plaza — an urban green-space park with a clock tower, pavilion and landscaping — in memory of his family.
Campbell spied another vacant lot on Lake Street in downtown Fulton and he thought, “If I can do one, I can find someone for the next one.” From there, he recruited the community’s Rotary Club and Fulton Tourism Commission to get involved and got the second lot donated by Reelfoot Bank. Within just five weeks, $35,000 was raised to construct a civic park on the site.
In addition, a new business is now building in what was formerly a third vacant lot, he said.
The excitement has continued to build with community interest in “Let’s Paint the Town.”
“Now, apathy is turning into excitement and lots of people are talking. Let’s capitalize on that excitement, kick it off and go after preserving old buildings,” Campbell said.
Campbell said the nearly 200 people who turned out for last week’s “Let’s Paint the Town” kickoff meeting raised $5,000 in funds in about an hour.
June 5 has been targeted as the first work day in the Twin Cities. Campbell said volunteers are tentatively set to tackle painting the former Twin Cities Auto Parts building on Broadway in South Fulton and a building on Main Street in Fulton where Fulton businessman Mike Smith currently has his Wendy’s corporate office.
“The way it works is that building owners have to qualify and sign up and buy their own paint,” Campbell said. “All the labor and repairs are done by community volunteers. We have inventoried 21 buildings and, so far, 20 of (the building owners) have signed up for the program. We’ll be doing one building at a time.
“We hope to have 30, 40, 50 people on that Saturday to show up,” he added.
As an added bonus, Koltinsky’s Marvo Entertainment Group, in a joint undertaking with Iron Bridge Productions of Louisville, Ky., will film and produce a segment about the local revitalization effort for inclusion in a series of segments to be broadcast on PBS.
How to help
Organizers of the local “Let’s Paint the Town” effort are currently seeking donations of both money and time. Even though the owners of the targeted buildings must purchase the paint, the project itself will provide materials for minor repairs and the scrapers, brushes, rollers, pans and other paint supplies.
“We need donations for the general supply fund,” Campbell explained.
A non-profit, tax-deductible fund has been established and donations may be sent to the Twin Cities Restoration Foundation, 9399 State Line Road, South Fulton, TN 38257. Donations can also be made at any of the banks in the Twin Cities, where “Let’s Paint the Town” donation buckets have been placed in the lobbies.
Anyone who would like to volunteer their time to help on the work days is asked to contact the Twin Cities Chamber of Commerce at (731) 479-7029 to have their name placed on a contact list. A communications committee will ensure e-mail contact is made with everyone who is interested.
“We do need blood, sweat and tears, so to speak,” Campbell said.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.26.10