Smithfield Herald

Lions Club brightens hydrants

Roy Gilmore of Smithfield touches up a fire hydrant on Third Street.
Roy Gilmore of Smithfield touches up a fire hydrant on Third Street. lfinaldi@newsobserver.com

Fire hydrants in downtown Smithfield are brighter thanks to a civic club.

The Smithfield Lions Club is covering downtown fire hydrants in fresh coats of paint. Club members started their service project the second week of October, painting the hydrants on Second Street. From there, they descended on Third and Fourth streets.

Smithfield has 748 hydrants, and the club plans to paint 100 before pausing to decide whether to go beyond that.

The project was born of a survey the Lions sent to Town Hall asking how the club could better serve the community. When public utilities director Ken Griffin received the survey, he immediately thought of the town’s fire hydrants.

“They asked us, ‘How can we be of greater service to our community?’ ” Griffin said. “I thought, ‘I’ll fill out the survey.’ I suggested the hydrants, they got the survey, and about a month later, they said, ‘We really like that idea.’ ”

To prepare the hydrants for their touch-up, Griffin’s staff had to grind off the old paint so the new coat would adhere well and look good. Once that was done, the Lions went to work, painting the caps silver and the bodies silver.

Rather than tackle all 748 hydrants, Griffin said, the Lions Club and his office decided it would be best to start with 100. That first week, club members figure, they crossed 15 to 20 hydrants off their list. They’ll keep going to reach they 100.

Club member Mike Elmore of Smithfield was out painting hydrants on Oct. 14. He said he was glad to be able to help the town.

“With budget cuts, they didn’t have the money to supply labor to paint fire hydrants,” Elmore said. “We thought that would be a good service project. We’re having fun while we’re doing it.”

Elmore said the Lions sent out the survey because club members wanted new ideas for community service; nationally, the Lions Club is known for projects that help the blind.

“They were looking to promote what a great club the Lions Club is, and I agree,” Griffin said.

When Griffin was in his teens, he needed some money for college, and the Lions Club gave him a scholarship. It’s a civic group close to his heart.

Griffin said his department is grateful for the help. “It’s a major work, and it looks so good,” he said.

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