'Take Pride' Project Gaining Steam In Pine-Strawberry

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The Take Pride Project in the Pine-Strawberry Community is an effort by local residents and business owners who are interested in maintaining the quaint image that drew them to the tiny villages under Mogollon Rim.

"Our goal is to enhance what we already have," Joyce Bittner, project member, said. "We want to look at (Pine-Strawberry) with new eyes."

The group's goal is to continue the trend of improvements that have begun along Highway 87 in both Pine and Strawberry. For instance, the Pine-Strawberry Improvement Association helped out by paying for the new white fence at the Community Center. This group sees an opportunity to continue this type of momentum to improve and beautify the setting.

"It's important for people to know that there are already people and businesses doing this," Bittner said.

This group of volunteers hopes to create a new atmosphere along Highway 87 in Pine, a place where you will find people taking a stroll in the evening.

"There are areas that could be green and pretty," Cori Richman, project member said. She and other project members took a recent walk along the highway, looking for what might entice others into Pine.

Project members also recognize that small steps are easiest and build a firm foundation for bigger ones. Benches and some wine-barrels filled with flowers are the first step.

Residents and businesses are invited to sponsor a bench complete with flower barrel. Each sponsor will take on the responsibility of caring for the bench and flowers and cleaning the area around the bench. The idea is that by putting some monetary and physical effort into this project, you will take pride in your community.

Other projects like a creating community-wide trash pick-up day with a donated dumpster and larger landscaping projects for community areas are on the table for discussion, but the bottom line is to retain the charm that originally drew folks to the area.

"Whatever direction we take, we don't want to destroy the integrity of what is already here," Cheryl Holland, project member, said.

The group originated out of the Pine-Strawberry Business Group, an informal gathering of local business owners who meet once a month to network.

As the Take Pride Project began gaining recognition, members sought input from other community-oriented groups, such as Community Educational Recreational Civic Association and Pine-Strawberry Improvement Association. Besides bench sponsorship, fund-raising efforts include an upcoming fashion show at the Pine-Artisans Gallery.

Project members want to hear from you. To give your input, inquire about sponsorship, make a donation, or get more information, call Bittner, 476-5178; Holland, 476-3064 or Mari Landy, 476-3700.

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