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Main Street Makeover: Niagara volunteers launch effort to revitalize community

Brian Christensen/Daily News photo From left, are Niagara City Alderwoman Lynn Burke and Main Street Makeover volunteers Jeri Allen, Debbie Lindgren and Kathy Westrich. Not pictured is volunteer Kathy Spade.

NIAGARA, Wis. — A group of volunteers hope to give this Menominee River city a new look and restore some of what they remember about growing up in Niagara.

Jeri Allen, Debbie Lindgren, Kathy Westrich and Kathy Spade are part of Main Street Makeover, a revitalization project spearheaded by City Alderwoman Lynn Burke, who was elected to the city council April 2.

“That was the reason I ran. I wanted to spruce up Niagara, bring it back to my childhood,” Burke said. “This was the greatest town to live in, an incredible place to grow up.”

“We had a ski hill, a swimming pool, a skating rink,” Allen said.

But the city has weathered its share of setbacks as well, perhaps most significantly the shuttering of the NewPage paper mill in 2008.

“The mill was the main thing for this town,” Westrich said, noting the mill closure’s damaging effects on employment and tax revenue.

In its first effort to beautify the city, the makeover group placed hay bales, pumpkins and scarecrows on display along U.S. 141 this past fall.

“Once we started doing it, people started noticing,” Burke said. “People are donating so we can buy more things to keep for every holiday.”

The group has received hundreds of dollars in donations from local businesses, organizations and individuals, Burke said. The money will be used to buy architectural flower planters, benches and various holiday decorations after construction on U.S. 141 is completed in late 2020.

The construction project will include resurfacing the roadway from Betters Court to Pine Street, and reconstructing the asphalt pavement, curb, gutter and existing sidewalk from Pine to Fourth streets. Storm sewer, sanitary sewer and water main replacement will take place where necessary.

Street parking on U.S. 141 will be removed from Betters Court to Fourth Street.

After the highway reopens, the makeover group hopes to bring more people into the city by hosting weekly farmers’ markets, flea markets, craft fairs and more.

They welcome “anyone (who) wants to join us, has ideas, wants to participate,” Westrich said.

“We’d like to get more people involved,” Lindgren added.

“Make your mark on the world where you live,” Burke said.

To volunteer for the makeover program, contact Burke at 715-556-4850 or Niagara City Hall at 715-251-3235. Donations for the Main Street Makeover project can be made at City Hall as well as the Niagara branches of mBank and Forward Financial Credit Union.

Brian Christensen can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 229, or bchristensen@ironmountaindailynews.com.

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