Cheney is blossoming, thanks to a group of Cheney residents.
Five years ago, the residents organized Pathways To Progress, with the goal of beautifying the city’s main thoroughfare. They incorporated as a private nonprofit organization.
The group now has about 70 volunteers.
Charlie Dotson, who works for the 15-member board of directors, is executive director. Dr. Sue Wright is president of the board.
“Our very first project was street enhancement,” Dotson said. In 2000, bricks were installed along walkways and at intersections of downtown Cheney.
It was a city of Cheney project with help from a federal grant.
“Pathways To Progress took responsibility for local fund-raising. In less than three months we raised over $100,000,” Dotson said.
Rolling right along, the organization’s next idea was to install six kiosks with metal benches at intervals along the street. Local businesses donated the benches. Metal tags identify the donors.
Pathways To Progress, with an artistic eye, soon decided the kiosks needed color. In 2002, drivers began to see large hanging baskets of annual flowers on the sides of each kiosk.
Either the nearby businesses or other volunteers watered the flowers.
Each kiosk was placed near a tree planted several years earlier by the city of Cheney. A simple solution to watering the flowers presented itself.
Todd Ableman, a Pathways member and also employed by Cheney’s Public Works Department, connected the tree irrigation water to the hanging baskets. However, Pathways members still tended the plants.
In 2004, Pathways To Progress further enhanced the kiosks by placing large barrels of flowers beneath the hanging baskets. Water drips from the baskets onto the flowers in the barrels – an ingenious remedy to a formerly tedious chore.
“We have an annual member fund-raising campaign which contributes to the flowers’ maintenance,” Dotson said. “This year we partnered with the Cheney Garden Club.
“They are now responsible for the baskets and take care of them all season long. It’s really a community project. We provided a way for it to happen.”
The Friday Farmers’ Market on College Avenue was another of Pathways To Progress ideas and has become extremely successful.
Dotson said there is a long list of future projects. The organization studies the marketplace to decide what can be successful and continues to devise ways to improve store-front enhancement.
The group’s next project will be to install white lights in the trees along First Street this fall.
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