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Galax citizens reform beautification committee

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By Shannon Watkins

Longtime Galax residents will remember the efforts of Eloise and Frank Vass — a married couple, now retired to a nursing facility in Charlotte, N.C. — who spearheaded efforts to beautify the city in years pass.

Mary Guynn — Eloise’s sister, and formerly a city council member — remembers their work well, and she wants to evoke the spirit of the Vasses through her own latest project: another beautification committee.

“They worked all over the town for two or three years, and everybody in town knows them,” said Guynn. “Every time they see something pretty, they say, ‘That’s something Eloise and Frank did.’”

Guynn and three of her friends – Carol Morris and Janet Nuckolls, both members of a garden club, and Bonnie Harmon, who runs a beauty salon – decided to start clearing weeds and debris from the old health department location near Felts Park on South Main Street.

“We just started noticing how bad it looked. And so we just decided to take it on ourselves and clean it up, and we’re happy to do it,” said Guynn, who stresses that the new committee isn’t interested in personal glory, just improving the city. “We’re not finished. We got one whole island fixed.”

“What we’re going to do, we’re going to come back and finish that big long island,” she continued. “Then we’ll look all over town and then when we see places that need to be beautified, we’ll do it. We’ll just start our own little group.”

Guynn said Mondays will be the committee’s designated day for projects.

The committee is citizen-led and not under the aegis of city government, though they would like help from the city manager’s office in hauling away the leavings of their work, said Guynn, especially since they’re so heavy.

City Manager Keith Barker said the bags should be picked up within a day.

“We just wanted it to look good when these festivals were going,” said Guynn. “That was our inspiration, knowing that all these festivals were coming to the city. We don’t want to give credit to ourselves. We just wanted it to look pretty for our tourists and fiddlers.”

“We always appreciate any assistance the volunteers like Ms. Guynn and others provide to the city,” said Barker. “Groups like this have taken care of the garden and gazebo area on main street and other flower beds in the city. We are appreciative of their efforts.”

Anyone interested in joining the committee or helping out can call Mary Guynn at (276) 233-5025.