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Wednesday, May 2,2012

Glouster cleanup campaign makes national news

By Jim Phillips
Photo Credits: Photos by Dustin Franz.
Photo Caption: Above, from left, Alice Richards, Uleta Moore and Terry Dugan work on restoring the front of a home on Ohio Rt. 13 in Glouster Tuesday morning. The three are part of a group of local Trimble residents who volunteer their time to help paint homes and businesses. Below, used paintbrushes lie in the grass outside the home.

A grassroots campaign to spruce up the appearance of the village of Glouster is drawing the attention of media at both the state and national level.

The work of a group calling itself the Glouster Volunteers, whose members have recently been putting fresh coats of paint and making other improvements on homes and businesses in the north Athens County village, has already been written up in The Columbus Dispatch. And on Friday, CBS correspondent Steve Hartman is reportedly scheduled to run a piece on the project in his weekly "On the Road" segment, which airs during "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley."

"CBS was here yesterday," confirmed Glouster resident Terry Dugan Tuesday morning as he brushed pastel green paint onto the front siding of a house on the village's main thoroughfare, Ohio Rt. 13. "They were here all day."

Dugan and his wife, Lois, retirees who still live in Glouster, were among a handful of volunteers painting the house as part of an effort launched by a former village resident.

Organizer James "Sonny" Cotter, 81, now lives in Kettering, Ohio, near Dayton. He grew up in Glouster, however, and attended Glouster High School. His sister, 83-year-old Jody Moore, still lives in town.

Cotter reportedly got the idea of making his hometown look a little nicer while taking a stroll through the village.

"He just started walking through the town, and decided it needed something to spruce it up a little bit," explained Bev Wyatt, a Glouster resident and Ohio University employee who has helped publicize the campaign. "Just to kind of brighten the area up."

Cotter, who owned a sign shop for decades before retiring, said he actually started his efforts last year, by offering his services to village Mayor Miles Wolf to paint fire hydrants and bridges. When he had finished with those jobs, he asked his sister what else needed to be done in town.

"She said, 'Boy, I'd like to see all those windows of those closed stores (in town) washed,'" he recalled. This led to Cotter's taking a spray bottle of window cleaner and hitting the downtown area.

When that job was done, he and his sister then put together a group of volunteers to touch up and seal a mural on the front of old photography studio in town earlier this year. From there, the project expanded to painting any homes or businesses in town whose owners or inhabitants agree to let it happen.

So far, Wyatt said, about 20 homes and businesses have gotten free makeovers, including the high school stadium, which is getting not only a paint job, but some structural improvements.

The whole thing is funded entirely by donations of paint, supplies, money and volunteer labor. Many of the volunteers, like the Dugans, are pitching in out of community pride.

"My husband and I are both retired now, and we've lived here our whole lives," Lois Dugan explained.

Terry Dugan added jokingly that he didn't realize he was on the volunteer team until his wife told him.

"That's why I'm here," he admitted. "She signed me up. That's a fact."

Lois Dugan said volunteers have been working their way through town, offering to paint any home or business that looks like it could use it.

"We just go through, and see which ones need to be worked on," she explained. In some cases, she added, the sight of the volunteers at work has inspired nearby residents to get to work painting their own homes.

Volunteer Alice Richards, perched atop the front wall of the home's porch as she painted its upper frame, said the group's work so far should be easy to spot in a town where dingy, peeling building fronts are not hard to find.

"You can probably definitely pick out the (buildings) we've done," she said.

Along with the spreading publicity, the campaign is attracting donations; one donor has given $1,000, the volunteers reported, and another $500. The paint is all donated, some by area businesses. And the number of people willing to pick up a brush is reportedly growing.

"For me, being involved in doing this is just a sense that you're giving back to your community," Wyatt said.

"I think it has to do something for community pride," suggested Terry Dugan.

Lois Dugan noted that starting Monday, the group will be having regular meetings throughout the week, 9 a.m. at the village depot, to which any volunteers are invited to come. Then on Saturday, there will be a celebration picnic at the Glouster community park. She urged anyone who wants to help out to attend a meeting, and they'll be assigned some work.

"You don't have to be good," added her husband. "You just have to be willing."

Cotter said he's thrilled by the response his project has gotten, both from local residents and from the media.

"It's just been contagious," he said. "I'm as amazed as anyone else."

Ultimately, he said, he hopes the volunteer effort will help Glouster's somewhat tarnished image, and light a lasting fire in village residents to pitch in and improve the community.

"We're just trying to make it nicer, so when people drive through Glouster, they don't give it a bad name," he explained. "And hopefully, as people get the spirit, they'll start doing it on their own – those who can."


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This group done so much for community and inspired others in town to take action. Great job



Now if you could get some businesses to come to the area and employ some of the folks in Glouster and the surrounding area that would be great.  I'll have to drive through soon and check out the new improvements.  Good job Glouster!