As established by the Hope City Board of Directors earlier this month, the new incarnation of the Hope Beautification Committee held its first meeting on Monday night to set its organization and missions in a one-hour session in downtown Hope.

As established by the Hope City Board of Directors earlier this month, the new incarnation of the Hope Beautification Committee held its first meeting on Monday night to set its organization and missions in a one-hour session in downtown Hope.
Mayor Steve Montgomery presided over start of meeting, and he emphasized the scope of the committee was not only Hope’s downtown, but all of Hope, including the Hervey and Hazel corridors, and he also said a tenet of the committee was for education and outreach, but not code enforcement.
“This committee can be a vehicle for those concerns,” Montgomery said.
Hope business owner Steve Atchley was named as the group’s first Chairman, while Jessie Lewis was named as the Vice Chair. Kathleen Hignight was tapped as first Secretary.
Montgomery also said the committee was not a city commission, so certain budgetary and spending initiatives must still be approved by the Hope City Board.  Initially, the new group will have a budget of $5,000 for beautification projects.
Montgomery hoped the committee would bring back once-upon-a-time programs like Residential Yard of the Month and Business of the Month.
New Chairman Atchley said, “We all want a better look for the town, a cleaner look, and we are undertaking a long journey here. We need to speak up, and we need to be visible to the community.”
Steven Sheets, a committee member, said groups like the Master Gardeners should be tapped and sought for advice.
“They can not take on all these projects, but they have a wealth of knowledge,” he said.
Other groups like HAPS, 4-H, and churches were cited as resources for beautification projects, and Montgomery said “It would be good for the committee to bring these groups together for these kinds of projects.”
Montgomery said that he hoped the committee could do one big project a year, both to beautify and improve the city, but also to keep the group active and in the public eye.
Another area the committee sought to address was run down properties with the city, long considered eyesores. Committee member Paula McClellan Gunter specifically mentioned the two-story complex on 3rd Street, identified as belonging to Willie Walker, as a problem as well as other nearby properties.
“It is right there on a main thoroughfare in the city; it is an embarrassment,” she said.
Gunter questioned City Manager Catherine Cook, who was in attendance was well as J.R. Wilson and Mark Ross, on the city’s timelines for writing letters to property owners and how long they were given before the city intervened.
Gunter said she had a list of several other properties that need to be addressed as part of city beautification efforts.
Atchley said, “At least, we have a committee, and we want to see some changes around here.”
Lewis suggested that the committee act as a resource for help, and she offered the idea that certain volunteers or organizations could assist some of the property owners in either mowing or cleaning up their properties free of charge.
“I think we need to make aware to the public that we are going to help them; some property owners may be elderly or may not be able to afford the upkeep. We should be connecting them to resources,” she said.
Montgomery said that he hoped the committee would focus on “flowery and beautification efforts” around the city and that organizations like the Hope Downtown Network would be a little better suited to address the building situation in downtown.
“We need to instill some pride again, and we need to include Hervey Street, Hazel Street, and other places in the city,” he said.
In addition to Atchely as chairman, Lewis as vice-chair, and Hignight as secretary, the other Beautification Committee members include Steven Sheets, Mandy Phillips Bright, Paula McClellan Gunter, Arnetta Bradford, Alejandro Mendoza, and Marie Marquez.
The group is scheduled to meet again on Monday, October 2 at 6 p.m. at the Tailgater’s Annex in downtown Hope.