Lehighton Downtown Initiative Committee LLC has announced the winners of the downtown park bench painting contest. The competition was held from May to September, with the winning entries judged on Friday and awards presented Saturday by Frank Potoczak, LDIC president.

The project was conceived by artist Maritza Reinbold of Lehighton. During the contest, artists and groups were invited to paint murals on the benches in the lower park. Drafts of the murals were submitted to Lehighton Borough Council for approval. Those who painted the benches were also encouraged to "adopt" the area around their bench by landscaping it and keeping the area litter free.

Reinbold said that she felt tourists are attracted to the area and she thought the murals would not cost the city anything and would bring the community together. In all there were 22 benches entered in the competition.

"Bringing art to the community was my goal in coordinating this Bench Mural Project," said Reinbold. I am very pleased by all the positive community response to my project. The people of Lehighton seem to have a renewed sense of pride in their downtown park."

Reinbold gave special thanks to Nicole Becket, borough manager for approving the project.

Categories were: Borough's Choice, Artist's Award, and Most Patriotic. Winners were, Borough Choice Award, Pennsylvania History, artist, Maritza Reinbold; Artists Award (judged by three different judges), first place, Lenape Inidans, Reinbold; second place, Pa. History, Reinbold; and third place, Waterfall/Mountain Scene, Janine Klotz; and Most Patriotic, judged by state Rep. Doyle Heffley, first place, Firefighters, Reinbold; and second place, Pa. History, Reinbold.

Benches were also presented by: "Deaf Awareness, Sign Language TV, by Theressa DuBois; "Tie Dye" by Carbon Career and Technical Institute, Graphic Design Class; "Guitar and Bubbles," by Marjorie Long; "Jack and Jill," by Jack and Jill Preschool, Shelly Zellner, Jane Howells, Autumn, Reagan and Landon Abelovsky; "My Lowes," by Reinbold; "Tree of Inspirations," St. Peter and Paul School; "Tulip Butterflies," Reinbold; "Water Wellness," Dina Depos; "Military Heroes," Ken West; "Indian Timeline," Trudie "Auwiusdi" Paul; "Under the Sea," Heather Nothstein; "Circle of Drums," Judy Greig; "Sun Mosaic," Lorraine Fitzsimmons; "The Quilted Crow," Anita McCartney; "Cub Scouts," Tammy Hoffman; and "Alzheimer's" Pat Anglovich.

A $50 check was presented to Klotz as Reinbold did not accept any prize money, opting to turn her winnings over to the project to repaint the amphitheater in the spring.

Potoczak said one of his main priorities is looking for new members. Potoczak said volunteers are needed to help the LDIC. Anyone who can assist should phone him at 484-357-6549.

A memorial paver project around the fountain in the Lower Lehighton Park is also a project of LDIC. That project is on hold until issues of water seepage from the fountain are addressed. More information is available on LDIC's Web site, at experiencelehighton.com.

Anyone with ideas or recommendations should call Frank at his cell number or e mail him at frank@experiencelehighton.com.

Potoczak also has organized a weekly farmers' market along Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Boulevard, Route 209, each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. He plans to have the farmers' market each week through the end of October.