DANVILLE — Evidence of Shelly Larson's landscaping abilities can be seen all over Danville's downtown, and this spring, Keep Vermilion County Beautiful is offering people the chance to win a $5,000 yard makeover that includes Larson's talent as a consultant.
"I am really looking forward to it. That's my favorite thing to do," said Larson, the city's superintendent of community improvement, and a member of KVCB, the local nonprofit organization dedicated to making the county a cleaner and more beautiful place.
Each year, KVCB has a raffle that generates money for beautification grants to help individuals, groups, organizations, schools and municipalities fund their own beautification projects for community areas. Projects can be as simple as planting flowers.
Lynn Wolgamot, KVCB's executive director, said last year, KVCB gave out 20 grants ranging from about $200 to $700. Since 2006, KVCB has funded about 151 projects totaling about $64,000 in grant money.
The raffle grand prize this year is the yard makeover assisted by Larson, which KVCB members thought could be very attractive to local residents whose lawns and landscaping likely suffered in last summer's drought. Larson said she loves showing people what they can do with a yard without spending a lot of money. Larson said $5,000 can go a long way.
KVCB board President Jason Toellner said there are additional prizes as well, including two $1,000 gift cards and a $500 gift card from the following businesses, Berry's Garden Center, Danville Gardens and Sully Schultz Nursery. Other local businesses are also donating prizes.
KVCB is selling 600 tickets for $25 each or five for $100, and the drawing will be at 12 p.m. May 4 at the Danville Public Library, 319 N. Vermilion St., during KVCB's Great American Cleanup day.
Toellner said if the grand prize winner doesn't want a yard makeover, the person can take the option of $4,000 in cash, minus taxes. Toellner said all the proceeds from the raffle go back into the organization's beautification grants.
"I strongly believe cleaner communities will attract more businesses and that will mean more jobs, so it's a win-win for everybody," he said.
In addition to being a consultant to the grand prize winner, Larson is spearheading KVCB's annual Great American Cleanup day on May 4, which is one day when KVCB members and community volunteers focus their efforts on cleanup and beautification. Larson said this year's cleanup day will target downtown Danville, from the library south to Main Street. She said KVCB needs plenty of volunteers for that day, individuals as well as groups. She said there will be opportunities for people to clean and pick up litter, but also do planting and painting in the downtown area.
The Signpost Forest on the southeast corner of North Vermilion Street and Harrison Street will be part of the cleanup day, and Larson is also spearheading the refurbishment of that lot. The forest was created when the Walldogs mural painters visited Danville and painted more than a dozen murals on buildings in the downtown area.
Larson is also a member of Vermilion Advantage's Leadership Tomorrow program, a class that develops leadership skills and promotes community involvement in local individuals. And that class has taken on the Signpost Forest as its community service project, Larson said. The group is raising $10,000 for the refurbishment, and Larson has applied for a grant from the national organization, Keep America Beautiful, to be used in that project.
Wolgamot said KVCB currently has about 80 members, but is doing a membership drive, which is open to individuals for $15, families and neighborhood associations for $30, and organizations, businesses and townships for $100. She said KVCB generally focuses on three things, litter prevention and education, recycling and beautification.
Keep Vermilion County Beautiful fundraiser
Tickets are on sale for Keep Vermilion County Beautiful's raffle at the following locations: Bud's Express Cellular, 22 N. Jackson St.; Carmack Car Capitol, 3719 N. Vermilion St.; and the Vermilion County Health Department, 200 S. College St. You can also call Jason Toellner at Carmack at 443-6803 or Doug Toole at the Vermilion County Health Department at 431-2662. For more information about the raffle or KVCB and its programs, go to keepvermilioncountybeautiful.org.