Residents and visitors alike will soon enjoy the gorgeous flower baskets we have seen in recent years along the streets of downtown Hoquiam. Inspired by similar initiatives in Aberdeen and Montesano, an enthusiastic group of volunteers has formed the Hoquiam Beautification Committee. You may have seen them weeding and planting in key locations throughout Hoquiam.

Hoquiam Councilwoman Mary Stinchfield came up with the idea for a volunteer organization to beautify Hoquiam in November 2018. The group soon found support in the community and the city council. Under the working title of Hoquiam Beautification Committee, the new nonprofit organization operates as an advisory committee under the umbrella of the City of Hoquiam. A sizeable group of volunteers has stepped forward to make the work happen.

Barbara Porter
Hoquiam Beautification Committee member and Master Gardener Barbara Porter add fresh soil to a planter at the Hoquiam Chevron Veterans Memorial Park. Photo credit: Cynthia McMillan

In lieu of a president, Mary Stinchfield, Lynn Ogren, and Becky Root function as chairpersons. “Nobody wanted to be the director. I like to call myself coach,” says Lynn. Secretary Ruth Hamilton takes the minutes, master gardener Barbara Porter gives landscaping advice, Cynthia McMillan and Teresa Saueressig are writing grants.

The organization has already secured grants from Timberland Bank, TwinStar Credit Union, and the Grays Harbor Community Foundation as well as donations from businesses and individuals. The City of Hoquiam awarded a $5,000 start-up grant to the new nonprofit.

Inspired by the work of the Aberdeen and the Montesano Beautification Committees, the Hoquiam group set out to pursue their vision to “to maintain and enhance the sense of community pride and visual appearance of the city of Hoquiam through the use of planters, hanging baskets, and seasonal decorations.” They hope to attract citizens and visitors to the downtown area. A Facebook page and a website were set up to interact with the community, to recruit volunteers, and to showcase photos of the committee’s work.

Hoquiam Beautification Committee Lynn Ogren
Hoquiam Beautification Committee chair person Lynn Ogren is prepping a concrete planter to receive young flower plants. Photo credit: Cynthia McMillan

In the past, the beautiful flower baskets on Simpson Avenue, 7th Street and 8th Street were sponsored by the Hoquiam Business Association (HBA). As the Beautification Committee is taking on the planting and maintenance of the 26 baskets, HBA is again helping out with funding. The committee is planning to buy industrial-sized concrete planters to be placed along the downtown sidewalks and in parks as well as more hanging baskets.

Wynoochee Windmill Farms has supplied plants and baskets. Planters were ordered from Ornamental Stone in Allyn, Washington. Unfortunately the company’s mold broke before the entire order could be filled. Matt from Bay View Ready Mix in Aberdeen came to the rescue ordering from Puget Sound Pre Cast. The heavy planters weighing 500 pounds each are being placed by the city.

The City of Hoquiam is a participant in the Arbor Day Tree City USA program, which encourages communities to plant urban trees. The Beautification Committee’s first work party fittingly took place on Arbor Day, April 17, 2019. Volunteers met for an Arbor Day ceremony at the Hoquiam Timberland Library where they planted two trees before heading over to City Hall. There they cleaned up the area next to the front entrance steps, pruned the maples, and planted flowers in the beds around the fountain. More flowers were placed in two planters moved to City Hall from the library. Volunteers brought their own handheld tools and gardening gloves. Visit City Hall to admire the colorful result!

Wishkah High School Students
Wishkah Valley High School students Cooper Bomhoff, Aleah Clevenger and Trista Cochran (from left to right) are digging out weeds out from the cracks in the walk way. Photo credit: Cynthia McMillan

Soon after, on May Day 2019, the Beautification Committee took on their next work party project: Chevron Veteran’s Memorial Park on the corner of Simpson Avenue and 8th Street. The pretty little park, very visible to tourists passing by, was created and maintained by the Hoquiam chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) on the lot of a former Chevron gas station. The VFW is grateful to have the Hoquiam Beautification Committee take over the maintenance. Volunteers did a wonderful job cleaning out six planters, picking up garbage, weeding the garden, and applying mulch. The planters are now ready for flowers. Three volunteers from Wishkah Valley High School went all out removing weeds form the sidewalk. “This was hard work which would not have happened without them,” says Lynn.

Future work parties are planned to improve the Logger’s Play Day Park on Emerson Avenue and the area around the Welcome to Hoquiam sign on US Highway 101 and Perry Avenue. The committee is hoping to make these areas beautiful and welcoming before the tourist season starts. Lynn would like Hoquiamites east of the river to know that planters are coming to them, too. Work is going to start after the replacement of some handicap ramps in locations where planters are going to be placed.

The new name under discussion for the Hoquiam Beautification Committee is “Spruce Up Hoquiam,” an invitation as much as it is a name.

The Hoquiam Beautification Committee is always looking for volunteers and donations. Email hoquiambeautification@gmail.com or message the Hoquiam Beautification Committee on Facebook. For donation and volunteer information, visit their website.

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