Port Orchard transformed by volunteer paint effort

Commuters traveling through Port Orchard Monday morning will get a huge surprise, as it will seem they have emerged through a portal into a world where everything has changed.

Over the weekend a crew of volunteer painters invaded the town and painted a majority of the buildings, a step in transforming the downtown from dinginess to dignity.

“I’m really proud of everyone who came down and helped us do this,” said Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola as he painted the trim on the front of About Floors. “It says a lot about the spirit of our community.”

Moondogs Too owner Daryl Baldwin was pleased with the turnout, and said “there are people down here that I’ve never seen before.” A lot of them were locals out for a look, while some others were from out of town. Gerald Haynes, an insurance agent from Portland, drove up because “a few of my friends called me and asked me to help out.”

“I’ve lived in Port Orchard all my life,” said volunteer Lucy Griesser. “This is a history making event. Port Orchard has never had a clean up day with painting crew and volunteers to clean up our little town and make it look like the covers on Debbie Macomber’s books, which are absolutely beautiful.”

Macomber is indirectly responsible for the painting effort, as it is her Cedar Cove Days that prompted the volunteer effort. The driving force behind the event is radio personality and Port Orchard resident Delilah Rene, who coordinated the volunteers, managed the details and contributed at least $30,000 of her own money.

An estimated 300 volunteers worked throughout the day, doing everything from sloshing on paint with rollers to the fine detail work that is needed for a window frame. The effort was coordinated from a table in front of the alley between Myhres’ and Slip 45.

“Everyone’s working really hard,” said volunteer coordinator Leah Wattree. “They come here, we send them out to do a job. They come back, and we send them out again.”

The project has been supported since the beginning by local hardware store owner Scott McLendon, who has provided guidance and donated $4,000 worth of paint. McLendon said that some of the buildings required more work than projected due to their surfaces, which absorbed the paint at a greater rate. He added there were some organizational problems that were solved.

“If you didn’t have the painting contractors here it would have been a big mess,” he said. “It would have been a three or four week project.”

The project did both more and less than expected. A few buildings weren’t done at all and will be painted at a later date. Three houses on the east side of town got a paint job and a weeding, giving visitors a different impression of downtown than before.

“When people look back at this they will think about how they were able to be a part of it,” said former Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel. “They will look at a building and say ‘hey, I helped to paint that.’ It will give them ownership, and they’ll want to come downtown. I think it’s very cool.”

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