MATTHEWS - With a population of 605, Matthews may be a small town, says Ann Porter, but it is a community with a big heart. More importantly, it is a community willing to invest in their town to bring improvements.
Since forming the "Matthews Beautification Committee" just two months ago, community members have worked together to develop projects to "dress up the town a little bit," said Porter, one of the committee's members. Then a major donation from the Matthews family set the foundation for the group's very first project.
The Matthews City Park at the town's west edge is situated on land which for years was leased by the city for a $1 a year from the Matthews family. Earlier this year, the family donated not only the park site but additional land to create a park area totaling 14.061 acres.
The first project, the committee members agreed, is to place a sign at the park's entrance welcoming visitors, recognizing the donation and featuring the city's new logo of "growing with pride." The initial plans call for not only the entrance sign but also landscaping surrounding it.
To help defray the cost of the project, committee members decided to use their new sign to create a memorial to members and former members of their town. There will be 78 listings (a maximum of 16 letters each) which will be placed on the back of the sign. The cost for each listing is $50.
"We have some of the most generous people around in our town," said Porter. "If people have had any need or problem, the town has alway risen to the occasion. They have been wonderful about helping," she said.
Porter expects the same response in their appeal to fund the beautification project. Already the committee has received some two dozen listings.
"Committee members wasted no time in starting their first project, completing some of the initial ground work. Porter said she hoped the landscaping would begin within the next two weeks.
Ray Mills, a Matthews alderman as well as a supporter of the Matthews Beautification Committee, described the response by citizens as very good. As the work continues, he said, he expects even more to join the community effort.
"Once people see things going up, they will help on other projects to beautify the city," said Mills.
It has also prompted the Board of Aldermen to begin work on grants to provide new playground equipment and work with others on improvements such as a walking trail.
Once the park project is complete, several suggestions were made for what the group should tackle next. These range from welcome signs at Matthews' city limits to planters along the streets to bus shelters for the children.
"There are a lot of things we would like to do but we have to start at one spot and go from there," said Porter. "I think it is great way to get the citizens of the town together to help better our town."
The Committee's next meeting is at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Community Building.
Porter encourages citizens to attend the meeting or for more information to call Peggy Hart at 472-1937; Pattie Mills at 471-1979; or Ruby Silvers at 471-5431.
Donations along with the information for the person to be honored for the memorial board can be sent to: Matthews Beautification, P.O. Box 248, Matthews, MO 63867. A form can also be found in Wednesday's Standard Democrat.