NEW STRAITSVILLE — The people of New Straitsville have been making an effort to clean up the small village in Perry County. The Keep New Straitsville Beautiful Committee has recently been awarding the efforts of individuals and families who are trying their best to keep the streets of New Straitsville beautiful.

The Village of New Straitsville has seen better days since its original formation in 1870, according to Ohio History Connection. The New Straitsville Mining Company established its village 50 miles southeast of Columbus. The village was created to house the company’s workers.

Now, the Village has seen a decline in residents as well as an increase in rubbish littering some parts of the area. The Keep New Straitsville Beautiful Committee was established to help correct the less than satisfactory look of the Village, which committee member Joe Maroon stated is working.

Over the past five years, the committee has hosted a Christmas light contest giving neighbors a chance to compete for who has the most holiday spirit. With a similar idea, the committee is now hosting a contest every month which highlights one resident or family for having the best well-kept yard.

Committee member Maroon stated that his group always tries to think of ways to keep the neighborhood clean and presentable. They reach those goals and aspirations by meeting in town, raising funds and just keeping small things such as putting flowers in the multiple pots throughout town.

“We put flowers in the pots on the streets in the summer and we try to do something at Christmastime,” committee member Sandy Bray told The Perry County Tribune.

So far, there have been three winners of the best-yard contest. Residents every month have been working on hands and knees to cultivate the perfect yard. Each winner receives a gift card for the prize as well as a sign indicating that they won the contest for this month. Each award recipient gets a free pizza from Little Italy, a local business in New Straitsville.

“We have committee members go around to different yards and look,” Bray stated. “Then we have a meeting and we decide on a yard of the month.”

So far, the neighborhood friendly competition has already crowned three winners since its start in July. Dave and Wallene Williams were the first couple to win the monthly yard competition with their cleanly decorated lawn, garden and patio area. Their home resides on West Main Street in New Straitsville where they raised three children together. They have been married for over 71 years.

Bray added that Wallene was 92 years old when she and Dave won the Yard of the Month. Sadly, she passed away just two weeks after they won the monthly award. Bray keeps a photo album of all the winners so far and the Williams are the first to be seen when opening the album.

The winners for the month of August were Shawn and Heidi Vollmer with their home located on Elm Street. They have lived in this home for seven years and presented well-kept flowerbeds as well as a well-cut cut lawn.

The latest winners of the Yard of the Month for September were Ellen and Lee Forester. Their house is located on Front Street and they have lived there since 1975. The couple has been married for 53 years and have raised two daughters as well as helped with caring for their three grandchildren. While Lee keeps the yard up to date, Ellen uses her talents to take care of the house as well as decorations.

Maroon and Bray are both very passionate about their town and how they go about cleaning the streets. Maroon has a small structure on the corner of Clark Street and Main Street where all of the “ammunition” they need to complete projects are held. In the storage structure, decorations for several holidays including Christmas, Veteran’s Day, Valentines Day and more crowd its walls. With their lead-by example attitude, the community has taken notice.

“Each year we find out that more and more people are decorating,” Bray said.

The secret to the best well yard: the answer is in the details. Bray alluded to some of the requirements including a well-kept lawn, various array of flowers and decorations that add to a home’s look. Maroon added that above all, overall cleanliness is a must.

“The ones we have gone to have been very nice,” Maroon commented. “The streets are a lot cleaner and people are taking pride in their homes.”

There have been more efforts to clean up the streets of New Straitsville. One of the ways they are doing that is by picking up all of the cigarette butts off of the ground. Maroon has an impressive yet concerning collection of cigarette butts that have littered the streets.

The committee also held a rummage sale in August at the New Straitsville Fire Department. Residents as well as other in Perry County donated various items and all proceeds went to the committees future community efforts.

The town also includes banners that families can purchase through the committee. The banners represent loved ones, families or service members. New Lexington has a similar program where families buy banners highlighting the military service of a family relative. What makes each banner unique is the individual mural designs that encapsulate the theme or image of a family or individual that is being recognized.

“The people that bought them — they love them,” Bray exclaimed.

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