TAKE 5: Bidding adieu to blighted areas

Mar. 23, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

This week, we Take 5 with John Ramsperger about the East Sanford Cleanup project, set for Saturday, April 13. Ramsperger, broker/owner of Sanford Real Estate, is a member of Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive’s Housing Task Force. He is the project coordinator for this year’s cleanup project on Maple Avenue. He’s also a member of First Baptist Church, president of the Sanford Area Habitat for Humanity and a Jonesboro Rotarian.

What was the genesis for the idea to work on beautification in East Sanford?

Mayor Cornelia Olive wanted to see more people in Sanford getting involved in their community and volunteering to help each other.

She wanted to foster neighbors helping neighbors, specifically in East Sanford. She assembled a task force to include community leaders and those directly involved in housing in Sanford. East Sanford is often mentioned as having blighted areas. Many homes are neglected, and the pride of ownership that was once East Sanford has slipped away over the years. The avenues are significant corridors for Sanford, and we want to portray a good impression for those visiting the area. This is expected to be an event that will improve the community and change lives in a positive way. Besides the cosmetic work performed on the homes, we want to fellowship with the residents and foster a sense of community in the area.

Who’s involved in the East Sanford Cleanup?

Approximately 200 volunteers will participate in the neighborhood cleanup, which will begin at 8 a.m. and end by 4 p.m. on April 13. Volunteers will meet at First Congregational Christian Church at the corner of McIver and 5th streets. The Rotary clubs in Sanford are coordinating the event. Members of First Congregational Christian Church (328 McIver St.) have met with the residents of Maple Avenue and asked them if they want to participate in the program and if they have any spiritual needs.

First Baptist Church will provide a light breakfast at 8 a.m. Shallow Well United Church of Christ will be cooking lunch at noon. The food has been donated by several local businesses. In addition to the volunteers, many local businesses donated items for the event, including plants, shrubs, wood, paint, food and drinks. The streets will be blocked off by local law enforcement. If you would like to be part of this event, contact our volunteer coordinator and Jonesboro Rotarian Chad Spivey at (919) 774-1677. No specific skills are needed to volunteer, just a willingness to help others. Please bring a shovel and a rake; all other materials will be provided. All ages are encouraged to come to the event.

What kinds of work will be performed?

We’ll do landscaping (trimming shrubs, planting new bushes, planting trees, etc.), minor rehab work on houses (replacing rotted trim boards, replacing rotted posts on porches, rebuilding railings), and exterior painting.

What responsibility do the homeowners and residents have as the work’s done?

We have invited the homeowners and residents to participate in the event. The homeowners and residents are encouraged to keep up their homes so they do not fall into further disrepair. One thing we learned from previous years is that the residents need to water the new plants so they take root and survive the hot summer. In addition, the City of Sanford has installed a beautiful playground for the residents and hope they will take pride in making sure the park is utilized properly and safely.

What’s next for this task force?

We hope to continue our efforts next spring on other East Sanford streets and look forward to future projects in Jonesboro and other parts of Sanford.

(Editor’s note: Task Force members include Mayor Cornelia Olive, Sanford City Manager Hal Hegwer; Ken Armstrong, executive director, Sanford Housing Authority and a Jonesboro Rotarian; Bob Bridwell, planning director for Sanford/Lee County Community Development Department.; Sanford/Lee County Community Development Manager Karen Kennedy; Pastor Herman Morris of Prevailing Life Christian Center; Cindy Hall, First Baptist Church; the Rev. Emilio Mejia with St. Stephen Catholic Church; Pastor Robbie Gibson, East Sanford Baptist Church; Sandra Boyd, Lee County Public Health; Kate Rumely, executive director, Brick Capital Community Development Corporation and a Jonesboro Rotarian; Liz Whitmore, planner II, City of Sanford; Carl Anglin, Sanford/Lee County Code Enforcement Division supervisor; Bill Stone, N.C. Cooperative Extension agent, 4-H Youth Development; Pastor Robert Thomas of First Congregational Christian Church; Alan Dossenbach with Dossenbach’s Finer Furniture and a Sanford Rotarian; David Nestor with Adcock & Associates Real Estate and a Sanford Rotarian; and Gary Wicker with the Sanford Area Home Builders Association and director of the Sanford Area Habitat for Humanity.)