South Bethany celebrates canal-end beautification

For the fifth year in a row, the Town of South Bethany has recognized residents who have taken the time to help make their community a better place by adopting the town’s canal ends.
South Bethany Town Seal

Last week, the Town recognized three canal-end adopters following its annual canal-end beauty contest. The winners were chosen after 339 South Bethany residents cast their votes.

Pat and Frank Weisgerber, with the help from W. 10th Street neighbors, won first place for their canal end, located on W. 10th Street, off of Peterson Drive. Carol and Todd Stevenson, and Dick and Maryanne Schmitt won second place for their canal end, located on Bayshore Drive. Sandi and Dennis Roberts won third place for their canal end, located on the corner of Canal Drive and Russell Road.

On Aug. 27, the winners were presented checks for $200, $100 and $50, respectively, from Cody Kuhnert, construction manager for Lord’s Landscaping.

“Thank you to everyone who was involved,” said South Bethany Councilwoman and Community Enhancement Committee Chairwoman Sue Callaway. “You can see what volunteerism does for a town… This is our fifth contest, and Lord’s has been involved for four years now. We appreciate that.”

“I like to see communities like this are taking initiative in some of the common areas,” said Kuhnert. “The retention gardens — they’re a big help with water runoff. Hopefully, this has steps that maybe other towns, like Bethany, will follow suit. The Town has set a good example and a good starting point … and it was a pleasure being a part of it.”

Pat Weisgerber, who formerly served on the CEC, had previously adopted a canal end for the Town for an Earth Day project.

“I looked at this one, and it really needed some help,” she said of the 10th Street canal end, noting dead trees and overgrown grass and weeds. “The people on the street were all for it; Three of them have been extremely supportive.

“I decided to take it on. I live about two blocks away, so it’s convenient to walk down and check on it.”

Weisgerber enlisted the help of eight neighbors for the end’s June planting.

“It only took us and hour and a half to put all these plants in,” she said.

The canal end is filled with a variety of colorful native plants, with a brick pathway (made from salvaged bricks from Weisgerber’s own garden) and a cedar arbor.

“Of course, my husband, Frank, built the arbor for me,” she said. “I said, ‘We need to have something different.’ A lot of people have benches, but I thought an arbor would be really pretty and different. The jasmine will, hopefully, cover it in the next few years. It’s an evergreen; it flowers and it smells good.”

The garden also has society garlic planted, which Kuhnert said is a wonderful perennial.

“I put these in my garden. It works. I have two big Huskies, and they destroy stuff. I plant this in my perennial bed, and they don’t go near it. I haven’t had a rabbit in my garden with these planted.”

Weisgerber thanked Danny, whose home is adjacent to the canal end, for allowing her to use his home’s water. She also thanked resident Earl Van Cleve, who helped Frank Weisgerber install the arbor, and Don Chrobot, the Town’s maintenance supervisor, who helped draw up the plans and clear the area.

“It’s been a really fun, rewarding project,” she added. “We want to make it nice for future people… It just makes the community a nice place to live.”

Sandi Roberts said that as soon as she heard about the adoption program, she knew she wanted to get involved.

“When we first heard about the program starting, my husband and I thought, ‘What a win-win. It beautifies the town but it doesn’t cost the Town anything,’” she said. “We sit directly across from the canal end we adopted, so for us it beautified our view when we look down the canal. I just think it makes it more attractive and it makes people feel pride in their town.”

Roberts said that by adopting canal ends, neighbors help create more of a community atmosphere in town.

“When I’m out there weeding and people ride by and thank me for what I’m doing, it makes me happy that I’m doing it,” she said. “We’ll continue to do it… You’re making a commitment. It is something that we continue to do. It’s nice to get some money to put into replenishing it each year.”

Their canal end got an unexpected facelift, with new plants, after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast.

“We lost pretty much everything we put in in Hurricane Sandy, because the canal end overflowed,” she said. “It’s been a trial-and-error thing. I still hope by the time the canal overflows again, it’ll be my son’s problem and not mine.”

Stevenson, who currently serves on the town council, said the adoption program has helped transform the town, in more ways than one.

“It’s a small thing, but it does make a big impact. It’s something people can take a hold of,” she said. “It’s a lot of work and expense on the part of the adopter. However, it was so fun getting to know the people around the canal, and some of them have taken it up as their cause, too.

“There’s a little retired couple… they provide water, they pick up cigarette butts or trash. The make sure the canal end is neat and tidy… It’s was a great community-building thing. I started it all by myself, and people were standing out in their yard, watching me, but now they’re not. They’re helping, they’re suggesting, or they’re bringing plants. People are getting into it. The adopter takes care of it, but it truly belongs to the community.”

Callaway said 32 canal ends were in the contest this year, out of the town’s 48 total canal ends.

“Some are OK, and some are on our priority list, so we will continue exploring volunteers for those that are on the priority lists.”

Those who are interested in adopting a canal end should simply contact the Town to begin the process, which requires those interested to fill out an application, as well as submit a design plan and conduct a site visit with the CEC. Once the application is approved, the adopter can begin to rejuvenate the canal or road end that they’ve selected.

Callaway said the adoption program helps to not only better the town’s aesthetics, but also helps to improve water quality.

“We’re excited, and we appreciate the increase this year,” she said.

“Sue Callaway is a great leader,” said Weisgerber. “She’s very motivated to keep the town looking nice and functioning ergonomically, with the water thing. It’s her goal to keep everything beautiful and manageable, and the town a nice place to live.”