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Town efforts to beautify the town produce lovely results

Dee Chitty, left, and Sheldon Morgan, director of the Gilford Department of Public Works, discuss the care of a French lilac plant near Tannery Bridge. Gilford recently won a statewide beautification award thanks to the efforts led by Chitty, officials and residents of Gilford. Danielle DeLisle. (click for larger version)
May 27, 2009
Now that the warm weather is here, Gilford is starting to look colorful with a variety of flowers, landscaping and shrubs appearing around town buildings. These plants and flowers are the result of hard work by a lot of people, but the efforts of Dee Chitty, who works at the Department of Public Works, makes the landscaping possible.

"She's a workaholic," said Sheldon Morgan, director of the DPW, "very into beautifying things. I don't know where she finds the time."

Chitty said that she learned everything she knows from her grandmother, who owned a nursery. She said she loves being outside and doesn't like to stay in place for a long period of time. This is fortunate, because taking care of the town landscaping takes Chitty to the four corners of Gilford every day.

All town buildings, with the exception of the schools, have some sort of flowers around them. This includes the Tannery Bridge, Town Hall, DPW, Lincoln Park, and Glendale. There are a mixture of annuals and perennials. Everything has to be watered daily and the flowers are fertilized once a month.

Right now the town is working to clean up the turn near the Gilford Village Store; the pavement was ripped up last week and the sidewalk will be expanded to head to the Gilford Community Church and the library.

Urns with flowers were also placed at the veteran memorials in preparation for the Memorial Day remembrance.

"These things wouldn't happen if you didn't have someone spearheading it," said Morgan, "Since Dee came here we have done more to beautify the town than we ever have."

Beautifying the town also means making sure the flowers and landscaping are in full-view to be appreciated by everyone who travels through Gilford, residents and visitors alike.

All the work and cooperation, with Chitty in the lead, paid off when Gilford won a state-wide beautification award recently. Chitty applied for the town and the committee was so impressed with her letter Gilford came in 11th out of the 274 communities that applied. Only the top 20 communities were picked for the award. Town officials accepted the award from Governor Lynch at a ceremony in Concord.

"I think what made ours stand out was because Dee wrote about the philosophy," said Morgon. "She wrote about how the citizens came together to make things happen. It's my personal belief that's what impressed the judges. It's the first time we have won an award like this, I believe, and my guess is it won't be the last."

Andy and Martina Howe of Beans & Greens have donated hundreds of dollars worth of annuals and fertilizer. Cathy Reitz and the Gilford Fire Department donate flowers and help take care of the area around the fire house on busy days. Bruce Hewitt, the foreman of the Recycling Center, sets aside loam and wood chips to be used around town. Richard Abbot, of the Highway Department, picks up and helps spread loam and chips around town. Jim Dinian, of Building and Grounds, helps repair the worn whiskey barrels and assists with daily care and planting. Chitty said many residents have donated their time and flowers to the town to help in the beautification effort.

"We have a lot of awesome people here," said Chitty. 'That's what I like best about the job, the people."

Chitty joked she likes to get up at 4 a.m. to get outside, so she thinks he might have been born 100 years too late. She could easily picture herself getting up and plowing fields. Though she works hard she prefers to stay in the background, but Morgan was quick to point out that she is the leader behind the effort.

"From a town perspective we couldn't do any better than the people we have now," said Morgan. "The department has needed is direction, but nobody jumped out front and said 'Let's do it' until Dee came along."

In addition to all of this work Morgan said Chitty promotes recycling every chance she gets and is also a Cemetery Trustee. As a trustee Chitty is responsible for making sure that the town own cemeteries are clear and the headstones are in good repair. This is the first time that the town has had cemetery trustees and Chitty said she is looking forward to the work, especially working with the Weeks Cemetery. She hopes to get more people involved in helping to take care of the cemeteries, especially the people who residents who live close to them.

"We'll gladly take any donations of flowers and anything else," said Chitty. "We won't turn away anything the residents want to help with."

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