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Volunteers spruce up downtown Hoquiam

It’s amazing what a little inspiration and perspiration can do! Take a drive to downtown Hoquiam to see how volunteer efforts have beautified this city.

Thanks to some community-minded volunteers, the core of Hoquiam is getting spruced up with tidied parks, repainted signs and lots of planters full of bright flowers. And, the newly formed Hoquiam Beautification Committee says there’s more to come!

“We saw good things happening in Aberdeen with their committee and thought it would be nice to work the same sort of magic and spruce up things in Hoquiam,” said Sue Varland, one of the Hoquiam Beautification Committee’s many volunteers.

After Hoquiam City Council member Mary Stinchfield planted the idea of a volunteer group similar to the effort led through the Aberdeen Revitalization Movement’s Bloom Team -- organized by volunteers Bette Worth and Bobbi McCracken – a call went out to form a similar group in Hoquiam.

In fact, the group consulted with McCracken. “She told us not to reinvent the wheel as an organization, but just copy what they did, just like they copied Shelton,” said Lynn Ogren, one of the chairpersons of the Hoquiam Beautification Committee.

“We’ve tried to focus on areas of the city that need some cleaning up and improving as well as bringing large planters and a few flower baskets to downtown.”

While the group began meeting in November, the first months were taken up with planning and fundraising. (The City got them off to a good start with a $5,000 grant.)

However, beginning Arbor Day – April 17 – the group of gardeners finally got their hands in the soil. After watching a ceremony which included the planting of two new trees and the city’s recognition as a “Tree City, USA” project, the volunteers rolled up their sleeves. They tackled the areas near City Hall where they pruned trees, weeded, and planted flowers in beds around the fountain as well as in two large planters.

On May Day, the committee put its efforts to tidying up the VFW Memorial Park at the corner of 8th Street and Simpson Avenue, weeding the sidewalks, picking up garbage, cleaning up the pots, planting new flowers, all in an effort to have it ready for a ceremony there on Memorial Day.

Since then, other projects have included beautifying the area by the Logger’s Play Day “Welcome to Hoquiam” sign, which was badly in need of refurbishing. The sign was repainted, the landscape timbers replaced, three big whiskey barrels full of flowers were added. “It really looks nice. It’s like night and day,” Ogren said.

Then about 16 volunteers tackled the landscaping near the historic train station that now house’s the Washington State Licensing Office, which was nicely landscaped, but simply overgrown.

But for most people, the most frequently viewed effects of the Hoquiam Beautification Committee’s work are the new flower-filled planters in downtown Hoquiam, with more on their way soon!

Part of the money that the group has raised will go toward the salary of a city worker to water all these beautiful planters

“This spring we just each kept a jug of water in our cars and would check on specifically assigned planters to make sure they were staying weeded and watered,” Ogren said. “It will be great to have someone watering them during the summer.”

The group also hopes to change the baskets in the fall and winter to keep a festive look to the town. In addition, they are looking at purchasing “classy” seasonal decorations, and maybe even lighting for the buildings. “Our theme is ‘Spruce up Hoquiam,” she said.

“If we make downtown and city-owned parts of the city look good then people will take pride in their city and feel good about it and that will lead them to take care of their own property and improve their neighborhoods and then the whole city will have a better self-image that will carry through. People will want to stop and eat in the restaurants and go shopping. We’re hoping that the thousands of people who are on their way to Ocean Shores will consider stopping. We want to be welcoming to our residents and to our tourists and visitors,” Ogren said.

We here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor think they have gotten off to a great start!


In addition to the start-up money given by the City, the non-profit organization which acts as an advisory committee under the City of Hoquiam, has received grants and donations big and small that are paying for the supplies needed.

“Every bit helps make a difference,” Ogren said.

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to the Hoquiam Beautification Committee

City of Hoquiam

609 8th St.

Hoquiam, WA 98550.

Of course volunteers are also being sought. One way to connect to the group is through the Hoquiam Beautification Facebook page.

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