By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. —
Downtown business owners, the city, the Chamber of Commerce and downtown residents have decided to organize a cleanup day for Baxter Springs’ historic downtown, and they are seeking volunteers to help.
“It’s crying out for somebody to take some pride in it,” said Judy Hill, chairwoman of the chamber’s beautification committee.
The cleanup, slated for 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, will include sweeping, painting, weeding and working with the Chamber of Commerce to plant flowers in large pots along Military Avenue, the main downtown thoroughfare.
“We have hundreds of visitors to our community every week, and we want to present a beautiful small town in Kansas,” said Cathy Bolek, who in November 2011 opened Sacs 66, an antiques and collectibles store at 1141 Military Ave.
Town leaders anticipate even more visitors than usual through the summer and fall, as the Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum has several events slated in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Blair.
“The chamber is very excited about being involved and has allocated funds for the plants,” said chamber President Doug Scott. “We realize that we are very dependent on tourism in Baxter. We’re just doing what we can to help the retailers.” He said a more attractive downtown would make it “very interesting to tourists who come in on Route 66.”
Hill said the city also is committed to the effort.
“Our goal is to get the city, chamber, businesses all working together again, and to give our community something to be proud of,” she said. “It’s snowballed. Everyone is excited about it.”
Students at Baxter Springs Middle School have agreed to help with a repeat effort in the fall, which will include planting fresh flowers as the season changes.
Bolek said she hopes to involve youth group leaders and other organizations now and on future work days. She said it would make “a great family outing” for those who want to give back to their community.
Hill said that once the downtown effort has made progress, the group plans to shift attention to the south business area of Military Avenue.
VOLUNTEERS MAY CONTACT Cathy Bolek at 620-856-5570, Sue Gast at Angels on the Route at 620-856-2266, or Judy Hill at American Bank at 620-856-2301.