Historic Hannibal Marketing Council spearheading planter project

One doesn't have to look very hard to find evidence of the Historic Hannibal Marketing Council's (HHMC) handiwork. However, for its next downtown beautification project the HHMC is seeking a financial partner. On Dec. 28 representatives of the HHMC asked the Marion County Commission to contribute.

“We were just looking for some money to help us get it started,” said Dena Ellis, who along with Kristy Trevathan, spoke in behalf of the HHMC's Downtown Beautification Committee to the commissioners at the courthouse in Palmyra.

Larry Welch, Eastern District commissioner, asked if the women had already approached the city of Hannibal for support. According to Ellis, the HHMC regularly works with city hall on various projects.

“We come up with a plan every year, our 10 most important objectives,” she said. “Then we put together a presentation for the city of Hannibal and try to ask their help for different projects.”

An objective of the HHMC is to have some permanent flower structures built for the downtown area.

“We went them to look similar to the benches that are on Main Street,” said Trevathan.

The planters, which would be bolted to the sidewalk, would be similar to those in use in Pittsfield, Ill.

“They just make the town look so uniform and nice,” said Ellis. “Our plan is to have them all down Main Street and up Broadway, hopefully, and eventually up the side streets.”

Because of an unknown cost factor, initially the HHMC would only have a handful of the planters created initially.

“We haven't gotten the bid back as to how much each one is going to be, but we were hoping you might help us get this project off the ground. It's going to be a very expensive project we imagine because they will have to be handmade, but they will be permanent,” said Ellis.

The HHMC is hopeful that support for the planters will come from more than just the county.

“Our plan right off the bat is to try to get people to donate,” said Ellis, adding that a brass plaque will be attached to each donated planter, recognizing either the individual who paid for the planter or a person of the donor's choice.

Welch, a Hannibal businessman, indicated a willingness to make a contribution to the planter program.

“We (commissioners) will check and see what we can do on this, but through my business I'll be glad to donate a little to you guys,” he said.

The HHMC has for years contributed greenbacks to purchase greenery and flowers to spruce up downtown.

“We just bought 58 new pots for the downtown two years ago. They're small ones, but that ran into a lot of money. We spent probably $5,000 buying the new pots and plants,” said Ellis. “Each year we spend between $2,000 and $2,500 of the HHMC's money buying plants for all the pots and soil.”

According to Trevathan, the HHMC's annual investment in plants does more than make the downtown look nice.

“We feel the look of Main Street has been the enhancer of economic development. It's not just because it looks pretty, it brings people there,” she said. “We're trying to make our town look like a place where people will say, 'That was a clean, beautiful town,' and they want to come back. It helps everyone when people visit the area.”

While the commissioners stopped short of making a cash commitment, Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode said the HHMC's beautification efforts are “bringing new people into the community, plus locals are enjoying it, too.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com