BY JANET C. WETZEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LOVELAND -- As the rain retreated and the sun beat down Wednesday, Donna Lajcak and Stacey Creamer dug their gloved hands into flower boxes, working the dark soil to break it up and aerate it.
Stacey Creamer, a volunteer from Loveland's Beautification committee, waters plants on Paxton bridge.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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They planted flowers, watered some that were already there and removed dead blooms and leaves.
Mrs. Lajcak, who heads Loveland's Beautification Committee, and Mrs. Creamer, a volunteer, were working on the new Bridge of Flowers the committee created this year on Paxton Bridge.
The flowers they planted this week are just a handful among more than 8,000 the committee and about 50 volunteers have planted this year alone in flower beds and planters throughout the city. As they worked, many passing motorists tooted their horns, called out encouraging words or gave them the thumbs up.
"I can't tell you how often that happens," Mrs. Lajcak said, smiling and waving at some passersby. "That's nice. It makes us know we're appreciated."
The work is admired and enjoyed by people throughout the city, said Bruce Leever, who jogged along the bridge with his son, Michael, 10. "I think their work is a real asset to the community," Mr. Leever said. "I think most everyone notices the work they do, and many comment on it."
The city's beautification committee -- made up this year of vice chairman Peggy Goodwin, Donna Bednar, Kathy Ross, Mike Wise and Mrs. Lajcak -- has worked more than two decades to keep Loveland looking its best.
"We pay special attention to Historic Loveland, the bike trail and Nisbet Park which is along the bike trail," Mrs. Lajcak said. The group tries to add something new each year. This year the members made the bridge of flowers, modeled after some they saw in other states. They had 14 6-foot-long, wooden flower boxes made and strapped along the sides of Paxton Bridge.
One year they added pole banners. But the committee doesn't stop with just flowers and banners. Each year its members work in an annual litter cleanup, have beautification contests and work on the city's shrubs and trees.
The committee formed an Adopt-a-Spot program this year to get help in planting and caring for the beds and containers. Families and groups from churches and organizations have adopted most of the city's estimated 30 flower garden spots, and all the 30 containers. Mrs. Creamer, a member of the Church of Matthew 25:, adopted eight of the bridge boxes as a representative of the church.
"We have a very small congregation, so right now it's just me," Mrs. Creamer said. The city public works departments waters the plants, but on weekends if rain has been scarce, she has used a cart to haul jugs of water to the bridge to water the flowers.
"We're very, very pleased that people want to help take care of these flowers," Mrs. Lajcak said.