By Ed Martin, Editor
Lemoore downtown artists Melanie Marsh and Wendy L'Herault look over some of their work downtown.
Lemoore downtown artists Melanie Marsh and Wendy L'Herault look over some of their work downtown.

What would it take to help spruce up Lemoore’s downtown? Well, how about a multi-million renovation of the city’s downtown core? That might help, and indeed, some of the downtown sidewalks could use some updating which in any city can be a nuisance.

But that kind of renovation takes money – and most likely – a lot of it. And, in these difficult times, funding needed to beautify downtowns like Lemoore can be challenging to obtain when more pressing issues may require a city government’s assistance.

A dollar doesn’t seem to go as far as it used to.

However, the absence of funding for downtown beautification certainly hasn’t prevented a pair of local “Lemooreons” from putting their spin on what the downtown should and can represent.

The two – Melanie Marsh and Wendy L’Herault – seemed to have taken matters into their own hands, and they are hell-bent on reviving a City of Lemoore Recreation program that encourages local businesses and individuals to “Adopt a Planter,” a program they believe is in the best interest of Lemoore and downtown visitors.

In the past few months, the work done by the pair of former teachers has definitely enhanced the city’s downtown core by updating and improving the myriad of planters that dot the downtown landscape. Thanks to the two go-getters, downtown visitors can enjoy a myriad of landscaping that certainly appears to have breathed new life into the city’s downtown core.

Allowing volunteers and businesses to “spruce up” a downtown planter seems like a good idea. “By working together, we can help enhance the beauty and inviting atmosphere of our downtown Lemoore,” states the city’s “Adopt a Planter Beautification Program,” available to local citizens through the Lemoore Parks and Recreation Department.

The program was designed by Marsh and L’Herault and is posted on the City of Lemoore website at Interested parties may contact the Recreation Department at 559-924-6744, ext. 2.

Volunteers Melanie Marsh and Wendy L'Herault put the finishing touches on yet another downtown planter.
Volunteers Melanie Marsh and Wendy L'Herault put the finishing touches on yet another downtown planter.

Currently, the City has established 28 planters in the downtown area, ready and willing to have somebody take out “adoption papers.“ Business owners can certainly adopt a planter. However, volunteer groups,  civic organizations, churches, neighborhood associations, businesses, and others may also “adopt” and maintain a designated planter.

“This has been going on. We kicked it back off this January when we all started getting together and really trying to push it forward again,” said Stephany Soto, the City of Lemoore Recreation Coordinator.

“She’s a mover and a shaker, all right,” said Soto of Marsh, who, along with L’Herault, seemed hell-bent on taking on all 28 of the city’s downtown planters. “We need people like Melanie and our committee to really help bring us all together.”

Soto told The Leader that she’s not quite sure why the program disappeared for a few years, adding the pandemic may have had something to do with it.

The idea, of course, was to have local businesses and volunteers keep their planters colorful and beautiful and maintain them. The original idea for the Adopt-A-Planter program seems to have come from Lemoore Councilmember Stuart Lyons.  

Soto added that they ask those who may want to adopt a planter to maintain it for at least a year. “ We currently have 13 available out of the 28 planters (in the city’s downtown).”

She added that the goal is to get them all adopted, and whoever adopts the plot should be responsible.

“I just wanted to participate and give a little bit back to my community,” said Marsh when quizzed by The Leader. In her previous incarnation, Marsh was a physical education teacher in Avenal and a former gymnast at Lemoore High School.

Volunteering to adopt a planter is rewarding, said Marsh.  “When you are working in your planter, people stop and take notice, complimenting you on your hard work, admiring the beauty you have brought to the downtown, and thanking you for caring,” she added.

“The adopt a planter program is a volunteer-based activity where volunteer groups such as citizens of Lemoore, civic groups, churches, neighborhood associations, businesses, and other groups “adopt” and maintain a designated planter,” said Marsh.

Local volunteers and former teachers go the extra mile to spruce up and beautify Downtown Lemoore

Marsh said an essential ally in their endeavors is the contributions of Nick Machado, who works for the City of Lemoore dealing with parks and buildings. “He really has been doing an excellent job fixing and repairing anything downtown,” said Marsh. “Examples of his abilities including fixing anything downtown like raised sidewalks, broken benches, and broken sprinklers.”  

Community involvement comes naturally to L’Herault too, who taught fourth grade at Island School for 27 years. “I have been and still am a VIP, volunteer in policing, for the Lemoore Police Department since 1998,” said the longtime community member.

She also held every position, including coach and president for Lemoore Little League in the 1980s, and also served as the Babe Ruth League’s secretary. Other volunteering chores were at swim meets and Sober Grad in the early 1990s.

By working together, she added that the downtown planters could help enhance the beauty and inviting atmosphere of downtown Lemoore.

The end goal is to have all 28 downtown planters attract local volunteers who could take on the responsibility of maintaining a planter.  The Volunteers will be responsible for purchasing all materials needed for their planter. They will visit the planter frequently to ensure a clean, vibrant, and healthy environment by replacing dead plants, trimming bushes as necessary, as well as removing and disposing of litter and weeds.