Our Town Tomah reaps benefits of more volunteers
By BOB KLIEBENSTEIN
Cathy Coffey is never exactly sure of the number until they actually arrive.
But when Thursday, May 24 arrived Coffey was pleasantly surprised with the mumber of volunteers that arrived to volunteer for Our Town Tomah's annual Spring Planting Day. Volunteers from business, private citizens and Tomah high school students have joined Our Town Tomah members in past years. Our Town is a nonprofit community volunteer organization dedicated to improving and adding visual appeal to Tomah. The group meets the third Thursday of each month in the Tomah Police Department community room at noon.
But this year the group included employees from the Wal-Mart Distribution Center (25), 15 veterans from the Tomah VA and officers from the Wisconsin State Patrol, Monroe County Sheriff's Department and Tomah Police Department. The students were members of the Roots & Shoots and Pack clubs, Coffey said. Businesses represented included Festival Foods, Partnership Bank, Tomah Area Credit Union and Toro.
Once again Peking Restaurant provided lunch for the volunteer crew. Flowers arrived at Gillett Park at 7 a.m., provided by Sparta Floral. Work started at 9:30 a.m. when volunteers were assigned work details. Armed with digging tools and gloves, off they went.
The planting day is a joint effort with the Parks and Recreation Department to spruce up the downtown and city parks. Parks staff waters the plants during the season.
Similar to last year, a little over 600 flowers and grasses are delivered. They are planted in 44 planters in city parks and around the bell garden at Gillett Park. This year with additional help from Wal-Mart DC volunteers the boulevard flower beds received additional attention. Extra hands also allowed for some touch up paint work at the Tomah Aquatic Center, Coffey added.
Wal-Mart donated some metal decorative turtles this year that were placed in some flowers planters. The planters are decorated four times each year, spring, summer, fall and winter.
In past years Our Town has helped with placement of other noticeable additions around town, new signage, benches and kiosks. Metal benches and garbage receptacles are designed and fabricated by John's Welding, located outside Tomah. Tomah Welding fabricated the kiosk on Milwaukee Street and a large sign erected by Amtrak station that reads "Our Town Tomah, Welcome to Our Community."
Our Town meetings last around one hour. Input and new ideas are encouraged from anyone wishing to get involved. If you have an interest in beautification of the downtown, gardening, signage, creating a welcome feeling for visitors, then your input is welcome.
"This is a great organization," Coffey said. "We operate on a shoe string budget (between $5,000 to $6,000 a year). We are always looking for people who want to donate their help or money."
Any cash donation over $200 receives a personally inscribed marker in a planter. Checks can be made out to Our Town Tomah, 326 W. Milwaukee St., Tomah, WI 54660.
Later in the night a fundraiser for Our Town Tomah was held at the Breakroom Sports Bar & Grill. It was incorporated into the Breakroom's craft beer socials.