Double hanging flowerpots with begonias and creeping Jenny adorn light poles in Brownstown and Ewing.
A couple of weeks later, concrete planters were placed on sidewalks and filled with begonias, geraniums and cannas.
The downtown areas of both communities now are a little more colorful.
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It’s the first phase of Brownstown/Ewing Main Street’s five-year beautification plan established by the nonprofit organization’s new generation of leadership.
Developing that plan started at the beginning of the year, so those associated with the group were happy to check the first item off of their list.
“Our goal was to start with the core spots that would be visible to the most amount of visitors to Brownstown, and then our plan is to spread down Main Street, maybe around the square, maybe more throughout Ewing,” board member Megan VanLiew said.
“We want it to feel welcoming and provide a place for people who are willing to be outside that there is something nice to look at,” she said. “This is the first step of beautification.”
Sally Lawson, president of the Brownstown Town Council who serves as a liaison to the group, said they have received positive feedback from residents.
“We’ve gotten a huge, huge supportive response from the hanging pots. They really liked them,” she said. “I love them. I am so happy these are out. We worked so hard for so long to get this done.”
After the board decided to first focus on beautification, it began looking into applying for grant opportunities.
Among them was a matching grant from the Jackson County Visitor Center. In the spring, VanLiew and Hackman presented the plan to a committee, showing a map of the proposed spots for the planters and hanging flowerpots and noting many of them would be along Main Street or U.S. 50 on Indiana’s Historic Pathways. They also noted it was part of a five-year plan.
Brownstown/Ewing Main Street wound up receiving a $6,050 matching grant.
“Especially Megan and I, it was kind of our first big grant that we worked on, so we were both kind of freaked out,” Lawson said. “They said they really liked our presentation, and our grant was really well done. They said they really enjoyed our maps.”
The match came from donations from The Peoples Bank, Brownstown Exchange Club and the town of Brownstown, and Brownstown/Ewing Main Street kicked in some money to finish it off.
That allowed for the purchase of 12 sets of 18-inch double hanging flowerpots and brackets to hang them along with 11 36-inch concrete planters.
Town employees helped install the brackets and hanging flowerpots, and VanLiew and Lawson placed the flowers.
A crane was used to place the heavy concrete planters, which are custom-made and very durable, VanLiew said.
“We wanted something that would be long-lasting and nice to look at,” she said. “We didn’t want it to be cheap and have to replace it every year.”
Volunteers spent part of a recent morning filling them with soil and flowers. Since the flowers were purchased later in the season, the group was able to take advantage of a buy-one-get-one-free sale at Schneider Nursery.
“We had to pick things that were tolerable to our heat and would be low-maintenance,” VanLiew said.
A water tank also was purchased so the town’s street department could water the flowers.
Leftover money will be used to change out the flowers to boxwoods or mums in the fall.
VanLiew received $100 sponsorships from several local businesses, organizations and individuals for the planters. That will cover flowers for next spring and fall.
“We had some people who donated just to get the project rolling before we took over, and people were very excited and ready for this project to be done and just glad that somebody was willing to take it over and do the work,” she said. “We’re hoping next year with the extra money, we’ll be able to add pots, and then there will be even more sponsors willing to donate or repeat sponsors renewing their sponsorship.”
Stakes will be placed in the pots to acknowledge the sponsors.
“Then all of the foot traffic that passes by and the people who are stopping downtown to do this or that, shopping or eating, will be able to see their name and realize the good that they are doing in their community,” VanLiew said.
Brownstown/Ewing Main Street’s next step is to add benches in the downtown and banners on the light poles. It currently is working on a grant application to submit to the Community Foundation of Jackson County, which will announce the recipients in the fall.
“By the next change of flowers, I would like to see that done,” Lawson said of adding benches and banners.
Next year, they hope to place more hanging pots in Ewing and around the Jackson County Courthouse square, where construction of a new judicial center will soon begin.
“We would anticipate more and more traffic, so we want to be able to welcome them and make the place look nice,” VanLiew said.
Lawson said they also hope to keep adding to Heritage Park near the courthouse. Brownstown/Ewing Main Street already has revamped the Brownstown Farmers Market, which is set up in the park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays through October.
The previous leaders of the group helped establish Heritage Park and restore the Ewing Depot, and the rejuvenated board is willing to volunteer its time to continue making progress.
“They’ve got these things in place, but it has to be up to the younger ones to come in and maintain it and get some stuff going and start to take over some of those things. We just want to give back,” Lawson said.
“It’s our turn,” VanLiew said. “We’ve taken for 20-some years. Now, it’s time to start giving back.”
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Brownstown/Ewing Main Street’s mission is to facilitate the preservation, development and improvement of the downtown areas of Brownstown and Ewing while being mindful of the vision to preserve historic buildings and create appealing green spaces in the downtowns.
The board consists of Luke Nolting, president; Conner Barnette, vice president; and members Bob Bane, Darlene Butt, Brian McIntosh, Megan VanLiew, Mitchell McIntyre and Paul Borden.
For information or to volunteer to help with future projects, contact Nolting at 812-968-9021 or send a message via facebook.com/btownewingmain.