A Leadership Paulding project to beautify the highway medians and roadsides in 10 locations countywide has shown its pink face to county motorists in recent weeks.
Members of Leadership Paulding’s 22nd class planted cosmos flowers in the median of U.S. Hwy. 278, among other locations. Six members of the group gathered last week at the entrance to the newly renamed Silver Comet Field airport to pose for photos with the flowers before cold weather claimed them for the season.
Class leader Sam Elrod noted each Leadership class – which changes annually – is required to do a project. The class, which graduated in 2012, ultimately decided on a project called “Paulding is Blooming” to represent such county enhancements as the new WellStar Paulding Hospital, movie studio and industry moving to the county, he said.
“It’s supposed to represent all the industry, the movie studio, the new hospital, the airport, all the things that are happening in Paulding,” he said.
“The flowers kind of roll into it,” he said. “This is our way of acknowledging and beautifying our county.”
Class members’ goal is to plant daylilies that will regenerate every year, he said.
“But that’s very expensive, and the least expensive and the most impact is with cosmos,” said Elrod, owner of Elrod Garden Center. “I believe it’s been very positive. I have people stopping and telling me that they’ve enjoyed it.”
Class member Natalie Higgins noted many motorists pulled to the side of the road to take their children’s pictures among the flowers.
“If people have enjoyed what they’ve seen this fall we would love donations so that they can spread farther across the county,” she said.
Class members and Georgia Department of Transportation workers planted the wildflowers in late August.
They began blooming in mid-September and “really began looking good” the week before the Salute America air show brought hundreds to Silver Comet Field, said Leadership member Scott Greene.
“We were watching them — hoping, hoping,” he said. “We got a good rain a week before. They popped out and peaked in [mid-October].”
Elrod donated thousands of dollars, including use of a tractor and seeds. The Georgia Department of Transportation helped prepare the ground and put out seed to help repay the county transportation department for mowing services it provided for about four years, said Greene, director of the Paulding Department of Transportation.
Greene, who was a member of the 21st class, said part of his class’s efforts was to “create gateways for the county, to beautify the entrances to the county.”
The city of Hiram did such an effort when it built a new, permanent sign surrounded by landscaping, including daylilies, at its eastern limits, Greene said.
Greene’s class members are working to raise money to remove concrete medians and replace them with a mixture of brickwork and trees. He said a prime location would be Marietta Highway’s intersection with Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway near WellStar’s new hospital.
Chamber vice president Shelbia Bohannon said past Leadership Paulding projects include development of the Paulding Boys & Girls Club, the Paulding Chamber trailhead of the Silver Comet Trail, and a new arena for McKenna Farms rehabilitation center.
Bohannon said it was not unusual for Leadership projects to take place over a series of years because of their scope.