CLARION: Clarion Pride

‘We brainstormed on how we could improve’

CLARION — If your town isn’t as tidy as you’d like, do you complain? Or do you attempt to make needed changes?

Clarion resident Carolyn Bowman and a handful of like-minded people chose the latter.

Clarion Pride was loosely organized in 2015, tackling a variety of projects in the past nearly five years. Bowman co-chairs the committee with Peggy O’Neill.

“It was at that time that we and others saw that our community didn’t look as good as it should,” she said, “so we brainstormed on how we could improve its appearance.”

One of Clarion Pride’s first projects was to identify homes on the entry corridors of town: Main Street, Central Avenue, and Wright County Road R38 coming in to town.

“If we saw homes on those streets which could use a coat of paint,” Bowman said, “we contact the homeowner to see if they’d like for us to supply paint. Sometimes our group would even supply the volunteers to help paint it.”

In the years following, the group painted nearly 10 homes.

But no longer.

“We still have paint available to paint homes,” Bowman said. “And we have some funds to help provide more paint or to hire painters. People need to contact us and homes can continue to be painted.”

As time passed, she said, too many of the volunteers were over 70 years old — too old to paint two-story homes or hang off long ladders.

Now their focus is much more on clean-up and fix-up projects. Once a month a recycling company comes to Clarion for people to drop off items at a designated spot. The big focus is two times a year, spring and fall, when Clarion Pride works over the town for items. Volunteers blanket the town with flyers telling of the pending dates, usually a Friday and Saturday.

“Many times people have items which need to be discarded and no way to get rid of them,” said Bowman. “We will take trash, beds, mattresses, tires, batteries, old grills, swing sets, old appliances, basketball hoops, old cars. A local recycling business has the ability to take many of our items.”

A recent cleanup weekend netted nine tons of items taken to the landfill and 13 tons of scrap to be recycled, not including any tires and television sets.

Bowman credits a number of volunteers for making the days a success.

“City employees are helpful,” she said, “as we load and unload items in a designated city parking lot. We have several major employers who send employees to help us go to homes to pick up items they would otherwise not be able to transport.”

Because of the watchful efforts of Clarion Pride volunteers, they are fast becoming the eyes and ears for various hot spots needing community attention.

“Someone from our group usually attends City Council meetings,” Bowman said. “Our attendance helps us to be watch dogs. We commend them for what we see that is going well and what needs all of our attention.”

Because of their efforts and work in tandem with the city, numbers of city reports of violations have increased. Sometimes the process of fines begins. Their goal is only improvements by local home owners and businesses.

“We feel good about what we are doing,” Bowman said.

“City budgets can’t address all of the needs of properties in our community which need attention. We can help.”