Where the Sidewalk Ends

Amanda Corbin
Staff Writer

Despite rain showers plaguing most of Tuesday morning and afternoon in Poteau, the executive director of a new nonprofit was out at the intersection of Harper and Parker to do one of the organization's main projects: clean up Poteau.

"Just a little paint and a little cleanup can do wonders," said Eric Standridge as he used shovels to cut through inches deep of grass grown into sidewalks in front of a home on the corner.
Standridge, who formerly served as Historic Downtown Poteau director before taking over at the new nonprofit, Poteau Improvement Project, said he has been working on sidewalks to days a week and hopes to inspire Poteau residents to clean their sidewalks and yards.

He said LeFlore County Emergency Management Michael Davidson also has helped clear sidewalks, along with Andrew Billy. Volunteers are always welcome, he said, but he said all it takes is for people to go out and clean where they can, be it picking up trash or cleaning their own yards.

"That's what I'm trying to do — get people to be more proactive. There's a lot people can do if they look for it."
Standridge said although cleanup is a major point of interest for the group as they try to revitalize Poteau neighborhoods, they also hope eventually to raise funds to aid people in fixing up the exteriors of their homes with paint and carpentry work. Standridge said the more manicured Poteau looks, the more development can be brought it in and more visitors will want to want to see Poteau in addition to area landmarks, such as Cavanal.
Other major long-term projects the group is working on are to eventually install a downtown playground and shade structures to combat summer heat.

To further ignite pride in Poteau, Standridge has started a Yard of the Month Facebook group, listed as "Poteau Yard of the Month," although Standridge said they will accept submissions from surrounding area towns. There is currently a Halloween yard display contest on the group. Entries must be submitted by Oct. 30. Three winners will be selected based on votes received on Facebook and being ranked by the contest judgers. Other contests the group will host include Home for the Holidays Christmas Yard Contest and in the spring a monthly lawn contest to be sponsored by Poteau True Value.

Standridge said if you would like to specifically volunteer with the project, contact him at on Facebook at "Eric Standridge." The Poteau Improvement Project is listed on Facebook or on its website, www.poteauimprovementproject.org.