By Sally Lawson | For The Tribune
During Jackson County United Way’s Day of Caring each spring, not every businessman has the luxury of being able to allow his or her staff time off so they can help complete a project.
One of those businessmen, however, decided that this year was going to be different.
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“I can’t close to allow our employees to participate,” said Mark Norman, president and CEO of The Peoples Bank.
Day of Caring typically is conducted on a weekday in early May of each year.
Norman, who also just happens to be president of the Jackson County Fair board of directors, knew of a project that some of his 50-plus employees might be willing to tackle after they had finished up a day of work.
It was a project that could help the fair board get the fairgrounds ready for this year’s fair, which begins its seven-day run July 24.
“Blue and Co. painted the inside of Building 4, and Wal-Mart painted a couple of the barns,” Norman said.
The inside of some of the 43 other buildings at the fairgrounds, including Building 3, also needed painting.
He put out the call among his staff for volunteers.
“We decided to do this as a community event to give back,” he said.
“I was expecting 10 or 12 people,” Norman said. “I got 31.”
On June 22, five people from the bank, including Norman, went out to the fairgrounds at noon and started painting the trim of the building, which hadn’t been painted since it was constructed in the 1990s.
“Then as people got off work, they started coming out,” Norman said.
Besides volunteers from the main banking center in Brownstown, bank staffers from the Seymour East and Seymour West centers also showed up.
Norman originally thought the project to paint the inside of the building wouldn’t be finished before 8 p.m.
With so many volunteers willing to work hard, the first coat of paint was applied. The crew was then fed pizza and put a second coat on and were wrapping long before 7 p.m.
Norman, a longtime fair board member who will continue to be involved after his term as president expires in October, said his hope is that other groups might step up and paint the inside of some of fair buildings.
The board is trying to make improvements to the grounds and buildings a little at a time.
“We just redid the roofing on some of the livestock buildings, and I don’t think those had ever been reroofed either,” he said.
Jamie Christopher, a teller at one of the Seymour branches, said the project fit well with the bank’s focus on community, and that’s also one the reasons she likes working for the bank.
“I think that the Jackson County Fair is one of the biggest events in Brownstown,” said Christopher, who lives in Brownstown. “It is a very vital part of the community, so just to give back means a lot. It’s our job. It’s what we do, and we love it.”
The last major project completed by the fair board was construction of a new restroom building in 2014.
In 2015, however, the county’s six conservation clubs rebuilt aquariums to hold fish exhibited during the fair each year. That project, which was about 10 years in the making, had a $39,000 price tag and was financed in part by the fish sandwiches the clubs sell each year during the fair.
This year’s Day of Caring, the 20th, was initially scheduled for May 10. More than 1,000 people had planned to turn out that day to tackle more than 160 projects.
The potential for heavy rain and storms that day delayed all but about 20 of the projects involving inside work. Each volunteer team rescheduled its projects, many to May 14, when 1,050 people completed more than 150 projects.
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For information about Jackson County United Way’s Day of Caring, contact Bonita Dobbs at [email protected] or 812-522-5450.