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May 12, 2014

Little touches of beauty: Jeffersonville's City Pride celebrates 10 years

Formed in 2004, the group has more than 100 volunteers

JEFFERSONVILLE — Peggy Duffy’s first months of beautifying the city involved a lot of heavy lifting. The Court Avenue medians that newly formed City Pride was rehabbing had no irrigation system to water the landscaping.

“So Tony [Decker] and I would carry five gallons of water up and down the medians like three nights a week. It was not something I was fond of,” Duffy, co-chair of Jeffersonville’s beautification organization, said with a laugh. “A five-gallon bucket of water weighs like 40 pounds, and you’re hauling these things up and down hoping nothing dies.”

Since then, City Pride has come a long way. From median work — and eventually installing that new irrigation system — to Glossbrenner Garden and bike planters downtown, the volunteer organization has been keeping Jeffersonville clean and pretty for 10 years.

City Pride was founded in 2004 by former mayor Rob Waiz, who pulled together a handful of people who showed interest in city beautification. At the time, Duffy’s business, Hagerty Engineering on Court Avenue, offered to adopt the surrounding block and plant flowers in the medians.

The group’s first meeting brainstormed the needs of the city, with an attendance of about 10 or 12 people.

“But it quickly grew,” Duffy said.

Now, City Pride has about 100 members, 24 of whom are regular volunteers. Businesses around the city take on projects, adding more volunteers to the pool. Steel Dynamics, which sends as many as 80 helpers, built the children’s garden at Warder Park.

“We’re not talking about just showing up and picking up trash,” Duffy said. “They build things, they dig, they do a lot of work.”

Duffy said City Pride has two goals.

“We always say, ‘When company comes over, you want the house to look nice.’ We want to make sure Jeffersonville is neat and clean,” she said. “... and then you have to go a step beyond that, and you have to say, ‘OK, how do we make it look nice to show that people are proud to live here?’”

But beautifying the city isn’t just for those who live or visit. It’s also important for Jeffersonville’s growth, she said.

“Companies don’t locate their businesses just based on logistics,” she said. “They base it on, ‘Where do our employees want to live?’”

Phyllis Nelson, a volunteer for City Pride who has been with the organization since the beginning, also said city beautification is important for attracting visitors and new residents.

“I think Mayor Waiz and Mayor Galligan and Mayor Moore realize that the better the city looks, the more welcoming it is,” Nelson said.

Nelson and her husband joined after he retired because they were looking for something they could do together.

“We thought, ‘We like to garden, we can do this,’” she said.

And City Pride’s rewards come in just the way the name suggests.

“I think more than anything it’s just the pride of knowing that the city looks good,” Nelson said of her favorite part of belonging to the organization. “I’m really proud that people come in and look and say, ‘Oh, this is a really nice place.’”

City Councilwoman Lisa Gill, the council’s liaison for City Pride, said the members are what make the organization something to be proud of.

“They’re a great group of volunteers — and that’s what makes it so special is they’re volunteers,” Gill said. “...They take on some really impressive and great projects.”

She said the organization is important because it adds “little touches of what we call beauty” to Jeffersonville, especially in the midst of construction.

“When you come into a city, especially if you haven’t been here before and see that things are properly maintained and things look nice ... it gives that hometown feel, even though we’re a city.”

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Motion Studio's junior company performs "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in celebration of National Dance Day at the Bicentennial Park in New Albany Saturday. The junior company, ages 7-11, have been working with Motion Studios on the ballet routine for the past four months.

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