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Fighting blight

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Bill Keich of Center Street in Tamaqua receives two planted flower boxes from Benjamin Beckett of Highwood USA in Hometown.
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Bill Keich of Center Street in Tamaqua receives two planted flower boxes from Benjamin Beckett of Highwood USA in Hometown.
Published June 27. 2013 05:07PM

Area businesses have joined with members of the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership, Tamaqua Safety Initiative (TSI) and Tamaqua Community Arts Center to spread seeds against blight by distributing planted flower boxes to residents in blighted areas.

Over 20 planted flower boxes were given to area residents residing in the Initiative's designated Tamaqua Safety Corridor (TSC).

Volunteer members of the TSI are working on ideas focused around community improvements needed in the corridor. The TSC is defined as the immediate streets and areas located northeast and south of the Five Points intersection, to include the 100 block of Pine Street.

Highwood USA of Hometown donated the eco-friendly synthetic wood flower boxes, while Blue Mountain Gardens of South Tamaqua donated the plants and soil. Both companies are actively involved with the TSI.

The safety initiative group is comprised of many Tamaqua residents, business owners, property owners, community organizations, police department, crime watch, borough council members, code enforcement, fire department, Chamber of Commerce, health professionals and more.

During a prior presentation, Leona Rega, TSI coordinator, pointed out various facts regarding the designated safety corridor. In the corridor, there are 39 businesses and 18 vacant properties.

In the past three years, the TSC has been the site of 59 reported burglaries/thefts (24 of those in the past year), 26 arrests for drug use, 47 arrests related to alcohol, three reports of rape and two assaults with a knife.

"Look at places where you feel safe," said Rega, who also serves as director of Tamaqua Community Arts Center. "Ask what makes you feel safe there and how can we (Tamaqua) replicate it?"

"We have received a touching response from area residents who've received our flower boxes," said Rega, who went door to door prior to the distribution asking residents who would want one. "Most residents were very excited to receive the flower boxes."

"I've always wanted a flower box," said Bill Keich of Center Street (SR309), who received a box along with Claudette, his wife of 16 years. "What a great idea."

Rega added that anyone in Tamaqua is welcome to join or participate in the program.

For more information, go to Tamaqua Community Partnership's website at The next public meeting is set for Thursday, July 25 at 8 a.m. at the center, 125 Pine St. They are also planning a National Night Out event for Tuesday, Aug. 6 from 7-9 p.m. Call (570) 668-1192 for more information.

"We are very touched that are businesses are willing to working with local organizations to beautify blighted areas," said Rega.

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