Making the city more beautiful is goal of Hartselle couple
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
A Hartselle couple has worked tirelessly for two decades to bring pride and economic growth to their community by keeping it clean and beautiful.
Linda Webster was one of hundreds of Hartselle citizens who volunteered to pick up roadside debris throughout the city in 1985 when the Hartselle Beautification Association was formed. Her husband, Fate, began volunteering his time and talents to the organization when he and Linda married in 1990.
Together, the couple has since participated in the Adopt-A-Mile program, maintained downtown flowers, sat on the board of directors, and coordinated the development of E.A.R.T.H. Park among numerous volunteer efforts with HBA.
The Webster's longevity with HBA has enabled them to see great improvements in the look and attitude of their hometown.
"Everywhere you look, you'll see evidence of HBA volunteer efforts to make Hartselle a better city," Linda explained. "Many, many volunteers have given their time and efforts. When HBA began almost 20 years ago, the city saw a need to be better than we were. We still have a long way to go, but we've come a long, long way since."
Linda recalls the beginnings of HBA springing from former Hartselle resident Charles Reed, who she said saw the need for Hartselle to take pride in the community in order to appeal to new industry.
"People shop when things are pretty and clean," Linda stated. "By enhancing the aesthetics of our town, the sales tax base will also be enhanced. Hartselle is a tax-dependent city, so making it a place people want to come to and spend money is vital to its growth and stability."
Fate, who retired from the Air Force and is experienced in engineering, headed the five-year E.A.R.T.H. Park HBA project to not only improve the aesthetics of Hartselle, but also to improve the environmental needs of the city and to alleviate downtown flooding.
"A significant sum of money was awarded to the city through ADEM (Alabama Department of Environmental Management) to decrease the amount of pollution running from under downtown Hartselle into the Flint Creek Watershed. The goal was to make the area as attractive as possible and be environmentally sound."
Fate and Linda said the project involved cleaning and restoring the creek beds, building retaining walls, erosion control and much more by teams of volunteers and contributors.
"The water is much cleaner now and the project helped keep flood waters out of Main Street stores," Fate explained. "The park is also used as a place to enjoy and a place to learn, which I think is just great."
Each spring, Hartselle's sixth grade students celebrate E.A.R.T.H. Day in the park by using the opportunity to learn about the Flint Creek Watershed Project. Other students and youth, including church groups and Boy Scouts, help maintain the flowerpots, trails and garbage cans within the park throughout the year.
Fate and Linda believe the future of Hartselle's beautification lies in the hands of these youngsters.
"HBA needs new, young blood and ideas," Linda said. "The key to bringing it in is through anti-littering education and community pride. The key to the success of HBA is keeping its activities and contributions visible to the community, and the children help to do that by volunteering and promoting community pride."
As much as the Websters have seen HBA grow since its beginning 20 years ago, they hope the organization continues to grow and prosper through continued education, the city's enforcement of litter laws, and the addition of new volunteer efforts and ideas.
Some of HBA's annual projects and events include Keep America Beautiful, recycling and environmental education, Great American Clean-up, citywide spring and fall clean-ups, Beautification awards, maintenance of city medians, downtown and depot beautification, green space maintenance, Depot Days assistance, Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce assistance, Garden Tour of Homes and Christmas Tour of Homes.
"HBA is a very large joint effort, including city leaders, the community, law enforcement, businesses and other organizations." Linda said. "We all have to work together to make the city better."
To learn how to become an HBA sponsor or volunteer, contact HBA Executive Director Carolyn Wallace at 773-0300.