Lewisburg in Bloom 2015 season kicks off with several ambitious projects
By Sarah Mansheim
Lewisburg has once again joined the America in Bloom awards program, and this spring, the town is hitting the ground running. Lewisburg in Bloom project coordinator Shannon Beatty has already begun raising funds for this year’s signature project, the rehabilitation of the Dick Pointer Cemetery adjacent to Carnegie Hall on Church Street. The African American cemetery dates back to pre-Civil War times, and has fallen into disrepair. According to Beatty, many of the trustees who kept up with the cemetery’s maintenance have died, and no one has overseen the cemetery for several years. It’s gotten so bad, she said, that Carnegie Hall employees have reported seeing people park their cars in the cemetery during Carnegie Hall and Old Stone Church events, causing several graves to collapse.
“It’s terrible. This is sacred ground. These are people’s ancestors,” remarked Beatty.
The Lewisburg Historic Landmarks Commission has approved plans for phase one of the cemetery rehab, which includes fencing and landscaping. Fundraising is ongoing for the project. So far, $3,150 has been raised by Lewisburg citizens and businesses. Those funds are being used to purchase trees and bushes to be planted in and around the cemetery. Beatty is still raising money for the cemetery in order to buy more trees and shrubbery, boxwood hedging and fencing.
Other businesses and organizations are donating time and labor. The Lewisburg Foundation has committed to pruning the trees and bushes in the cemetery every year, the city of Lewisburg will provide watering, and the New River Community and Technical College has committed to mowing the cemetery. Also, said Beatty, the grounds maintenance crew from The Greenbrier has offered to trim the existing trees and ground out a large stump that remains in the middle of the cemetery.
“Community involvement is the key to success in the long-term upkeep of the cemetery,” said Beatty.
Once phase one is complete, Beatty said she hopes to do a full inventory of the graves in the cemetery and then refurbish the headstones.
Another project the Lewisburg in Bloom project is taking on is a Yard of the Month contest. The volunteer-administered program invites Lewisburg residents to nominate their own or another’s standout yard. Yard of the Month will be awarded for the months of May, June, July, August and September. During each of those months, one yard will be selected, and each yard is limited to winning the award once a year. Nominations may be emailed to email@example.com. The name and complete address of the nominee must be included, and all entries must be in by the third week of the month to be considered for the following month. Judging will occur the last week of the month prior to the awarded month, and non-awarded yards will remain on the eligible judging list for the remainder of the year.
Beatty is also hoping to create a youth garden at Montwell Park as part of the High Rocks after-school program at The Hub. She is currently seeking donated materials and help in building two 4-by-4 raised beds to grow vegetables and flowers.
In order to help fund the 2015 Lewisburg in Bloom season, a fundraiser has been created. A drawing, called A Weekend in Lewisburg, will be held on May 23. The $25 ticket gives the chance for a weekend, July 24 and 25, full of activities, including dinner for two at the Stardust Cafe on Friday, July 24, followed by the show “Laughter on the Second Floor” at Greenbrier Valley Theatre and a stay at The General Lewis Inn. The winner will also receive two tickets for the Lewisburg Music Festival, which takes place the next day.
Tickets are available at Lewisburg City Hall. Call Beatty at 304-645-2080 to purchase a ticket or to donate toward the Dick Pointer Cemetery or the 2015 Lewisburg In Bloom project.
Lewisburg is one of 42 communities across the United States participating in the America in Bloom Project. Each participating town will receive a two-day visit from a team of judges who will tour the community and meet with volunteers, elected officials and members of the business community, and then develop an extensive written evaluation. Then, winners will be announced at the annual symposium, which will be held this year on Sept. 24-26 in Holland, MI.
Lewisburg was a finalist last year, and evaluations from the America in Bloom committee had encouraged the rehabilitation of the Dick Pointer Cemetery, thanks in part to its historical significance and location adjacent to such historic landmarks as Carnegie Hall, Old Stone Church and the Old Stone Cemetery.
This year, Lewisburg is competing in the 3,500-6,000 population category, which also includes Columbia, TX, Brewton, AL, and Catskill, NY.