Appearance Commission begins new year, announces new goals

Published 4:43 pm Friday, January 14, 2011

The volunteer members who represent the community on the Polk County Appearance Commission met the first week of this new year to reflect on the accomplishments of 2010 and to plan for 2011.

The groups goal is to promote and initiate projects that will enhance the appearance of local communities, and in this first Appearance Matters column of 2011 the group will share some of them.

2010 is notable for several important developments.

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1. The web site devoted to beautification in our area is now online: On this site you can see photographs of local scenes and learn more about the projects being discussed by the appearance commission.

2. Columbus won grants from the PCCF and from the NCDOT for gateway trees along both sides of Hwy. 108 beginning in front of the gas stations and going to the stop sign at Walker Street.

3. Polk County won an award for litter control improvement because of the large increase in participants in the Adopt-a Highway program.

4. Saluda gained a commitment from the NCDOT for landscape trees to be planted this winter on the west side of the entrance and exit ramps at I-26. Saluda residents gave input to the NCDOT about the location and best type of trees for this location.

The mission of the appearance commission is to preserve and enhance the appearance of Polk County by advising and implementing programs of general community beautification. Taking on this challenge is a volunteer board appointed by the Polk County commissioners. The current members are Carolyn Ashburn, Burt Baer, Beth Cannon, Joe Cooper, Eric Gass, Harry Petersen and Rolfe Wardner. As liaison to our county leadership, commissioner Renee McDermott also meets with the group. Meetings are open to everyone and are held on the first Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at the Polk County Tourist Office in Columbus.

The groups mission statement says: Our vision is our Foothills clean and beautiful, with many public expressions of our creativity and partnership with nature. Throughout the county there are beautifully planted areas on the roadsides and artful signs welcoming visitors and informing them of the many interesting features in this rural yet culturally rich area. Buildings are appropriately designed and sized with night lighting that is safe and efficient but not obtrusive to others. Public areas are free of litter and clutter and often showcase our local artists.

According to the appearance commission, the only blights in the community are the ones we cause ourselves. There are random discards of litter and treeless bare areas on the sides of some of the areas most important public roads. In much of the area there are no informational signs worthy of the abundance of cultural traditions which include nature activities, viniculture, fine crafts and arts, literature and equestrian sports. Abandoned buildings and dwellings, intrusive night lighting and clear cut properties are rare but they constantly challenge the public to care more thoroughly about the communitys appearance.

The appearance commission encourages the community to get involved and invites you to contribute your ideas about how to make the Carolina Foothills clean and green. The groups members asks you to tell them the things you consider to be appearance problems and want to see transformed or removed. Let the group know what you most enjoy seeing and want to see preserved.

This column will be a regular feature in the Bulletin and will highlight the value of community beauty to our local citizens. Look here for information on public landscaping projects, the Points of Pride, and for upcoming litter clean up by local groups in the Adopt-a Highway program. The appearance commission will invite different community leaders to write about their own personal visions for the appearance of our public areas.

Contact the group on its website with ideas or e-mail Responses will be printed in upcoming Appearance Matters columns.