Beautification projects are underway in Cuthbert

Multiple initiatives are taking place in Cuthbert to make a more beautiful cities.
Published: Mar. 11, 2023 at 7:28 PM EST
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CUTHBERT, Ga. (WALB) - Restoration efforts are underway in every corner of Cuthbert.

The water tower, neglected cemeteries and downtown buildings are all getting makeovers.

The restoration of Cuthbert’s iconic water tower, which started on Saturday, was decades in the making. Mark Englund started his effort two years ago after moving from Atlanta.

“It took a whole village to get together to make this happen,” Englund said.

It included a $30,000 grant last year and recent community donations of sandblast media, pine straw and safety straps.

Englund and Charlie Lovell only have 30 days to get it done. Weather, health issues, anything, can derail it.

“I’m going to be working day and night. As long as I can stay upright and vertical, I’ll be here working,” Englund said.

They only have 30 days because their funds have run out. They are asking for monetary donations for more flexibility. You can get a t-shirt with their non-profit “We Love Cuthbert” which supports beautification projects across the city.

Barbara and Jimmy Sealy have been residents of Cuthbert for six decades. They tell me this project means the world to them. Barbara has written many articles about it and Jimmy said he used to play baseball on a field adjacent to the tower.

The tower isn’t functional, it’s a landmark. It’s known for being the only tower in the country in the middle of a highway.

At McDonald Woods African American Cemetery, Randolph County concerned citizens and a few city councilmen came together to help restore the cemetery. It wasn’t their first time at the cemetery and it won’t be their last.

“[We have] whole lot of work, we need some help,” Sandra Willis, a councilwoman in Cuthbert, said.

She said she needs more community involvement to finish the project.

Willis said the cemetery is like a museum and there’s still a lot of history they’ve yet to uncover because of the many caskets buried in vines and overgrown. They showed a popular black business owner’s casket that is exposed to air today.

“Union Peyvice (Purvis). He used to own an ice cream shop on Andrew Street. And he was very prominent, but he has no family,” Willis said.

Andrew Street used to be a hub for black businesses decades ago and the council is trying to bring it back. Willis is concerned about the decline of the town of 7,000.

“Kids today, they don’t want to stay here because there’s nothing to do and we’re trying to build it up,” Willis said.

They are prioritizing more housing. They will also continue to work to preserve history and try to make new history. Also happening is a $1,500 facade grant for businesses (with limited amounts). Cuthbert’s goal is to become more attractive to travelers, so they want to stop and shop in their small town.

Pam Rogers is the owner of The Warehouse, a boutique in Cuthbert. She’s weighing taking advantage of a $1,500 grant from the county for facades in the downtown area.

“Anything that looks better, more people are apt to move in and start a business there,” Rogers said.

Three business owners off camera say that they haven’t heard of the grant and two of them are interested in it. There are still a few empty storefronts in the downtown square. Rogers says improving storefronts is a common good of all businesses.