HAMLET — The ongoing beautification project at City Lake received a contribution Friday from the Bowtie for Boys Club at Fairview Heights Elementary.
The members of the club — Erin Miller, Caelan Bright, Xavier Williams, Robert McCullough, Rasheem McCrae, Jamal Patrick, Andy Bowman, Leighlan Bowman and Rhyls Stewart — met with City Manager Jonathan Blanton at the lake to present four wildlife identification boards to go around the park.
Blanton said as cleanup around the lake began, he began talking to Ernie Billingsley about sign posts that have been empty for the past several years.
“I said it would be nice if we could get something back on here and he mentioned that his daughter worked for the school system,” Blanton said.
Billingsley’s daughter, Kristen, is a counselor at Fairview Heights.
She said her father her asked if there was a group at the school that might want to participate.
“So I asked our social worker and she got it started,” Billingsley said.
“They hopped on it pretty quickly,” Blanton added.
Evonne Moore, the club’s adviser and intern India Fields worked with the boys to create the boards, which feature a variety of reptiles, birds and fish that could possibly be found around the lake.
“They researched all the animals … they painted the boards … it was a project from scratch,” said Fields. “They had a really, really good time. I’m so proud of them.”
She said the project took about three weeks, between painting the boards, waiting for them to dry, doing the research and finding the photos — all during their lunch break.
Fields, who is working toward a master’s in social work at UNC-Pembroke, even had her own project to do.
She documented the history of the club and the progress of making the boards in a hardback book, which had the signatures of the students involved on the back page.
Billingsley said custodian Johnny Harris is “a good role model for these boys” and also had a hand in the project.
Blanton said it was “a good way to get the community involved so it feels like it’s a community project, not just the city of Hamlet’s project.”
“We’re excited about it and very appreciative of you guys helping us out,” he said.
The city began cleaning up around the lake in late July.
In mid-August, the city worked out a donation-purchase deal with Vulcan Materials for 800 tons of rip-rap stone to line the lake “in order to promote a fresh, clean, and neat looking shoreline.”
Last month, Scotland County artist Stuart Carmichael completed the mural near the Hamlet Senior Center, with a last-minute addition featuring the likenesses of late City Council member Joe Robinson and his grandchildren.
Earlier this week, Duke Energy began installing LED lighting to make things brighter and save the city a little money on the power bill.
Blanton said there are also plans to plant centipede grass in the area, but the sprinkler system has to be repaired first.
At the September meeting, Blanton outlined a master plan for the park which also includes:
- improving the integrity of the existing dam, at the request of the state;
- the addition of a recreational “splash pad” located between the senior center and the old VFW;
- an extension of the existing walking trail;
- more picnic areas;
- boardwalk extensions; and
Blanton said he hopes to have the draft of the master plan finished by the end of the year so the city can start applying for grants in 2020 to help fund improvements.