Success StoryPaint Creek Park Project-Bringing Hope

Paint Creek Park Project-Bringing Hope

Author: Brenda Cockerham

Planning Unit: Johnson County CES

Major Program: Community Design/Creative Placemaking

Plan of Work: Develop Individuals for Volunteer Roles

Outcome: Initial Outcome

Paintings in Paintsville is a mural project hosted in the center of Paintsville in Johnson County. There is a "Park" which is essentially a parking lot that is behind the buildings of Main Street. When entering Paintsville from one of the 5 entrance points, this parking lot becomes the first thing you see in the city of Paintsville. Through the years, it has become very run down, and  somewhat unsightly. Twenty years ago, Main Street strived to give it a face lift by building gazebos on either side, but this too has become aged. Currently there is a a bit of a problem with the homeless and people with substance disorders. When covid hit, these challenges began to escalate. The FCS agent applied (and received)  an FCS Mini grant to buy paint to begin a mural project in this park. A  strategic plan designed to allow the community to participate in a safe activity that would benefit the individual, the community and ultimately the economy. 

The project began with a community discussion on social media addressing the question: "What would we be proud of in Johnson County that we would want to showcase through a mural?: After 20,000 plus views and over 60 comments, a basic outline of ideas the public thoughts that were noteworthy was summarized. 

The next step was a competition, using the outline based on community input, there was a call for artists to submit their rendition of what they felt this would look like. The first location and approved building was the historic Sipp Theater that the city owned but was originally built in 1932. With the full support of the mayor, the building was prepped and the entrees began rolling in. The park has 6 eligible buildings, the commitment was to do one at a time, probably only one or two per year. 

With a steering committee made up of Main Street members, Route 23 Cultural Heritage Network members, artists, and community advocates, two art entrees were selected and the timeline and final decision was made by the mayor.

Two were selected to go on the Sipp, others were reserved for future years and the other buildings. The FCS Council sponsored the awards, and ten volunteers worked together to complete the first mural. 

Three television stations, two newspapers and thousands of people reached, engaged, made comments and shared the posts on facebook. The local editorial in Paintsville Herald summarized the initiative well. A positive movement, in troubling times, reaching thousands with the message, "we are proud of who we are".

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