Painters hit streets for annual beautification endeavor

ALTON – A break in rainy weather provided a window of opportunity Saturday for the Bucket Brigade to begin its annual assault on chipped and faded paint on area houses.

Armed with ladders, buckets of paint, brushes and rollers, volunteers painted about 15 houses as part of Pride Inc.’s beautification program. Volunteer groups were forced to postpone painting 32 homes last weekend because of rain.

“Almost all of the homes painted today were from last week. Some groups were scheduled to paint today and decided to wait because rain was in the forecast. But people should remember this: don’t believe the weather man. They said it would rain Friday and it didn’t until late in the evening and they said it would rain today and it hasn’t.”

Neudecker said all the homes scheduled to be painted would be completed by the end of summer.

“We’ve been down this road before,” he said.

About seven members of Main Street Methodist Church were painting the trim on a brick house on Washington Street. The church has volunteered with Bucket Brigade since it started 24 years ago.

“It’s a good thing to do for the community,” said Dorothy Ridder, who was painting the house’s wrought iron porch railing with another woman. “I had the news on at 6 (this morning) listening for the weather. We were out here at 8.”

Her husband, Frank, was painting the trim on windows. He said he’d done “more scraping than painting. It’s a fine day. The Lord has blessed us.”

On Elliott Street, the Alton chapter of 100 Black Men of America had a team out to paint Annie Elliott’s house. Two of the woman’s sons were among the workers.

“We’ve been trying to get (the house painted) for a year,” said Joe Elliott as he repositioned a ladder against the house. “I told her about the Bucket Brigade and called Mr. Neudecker and asked him about it.”

Annie Elliott said she was glad to hear the Bucket Brigade was able to paint her house because she wasn’t able to.

“They did it in the ’80s, too,” she said.

According to one of the members, Leo Cox Sr., the 100 Black Men have been providing volunteers since the Bucket Brigade started.

“Dale Neudecker was a member and he approached us 24 years ago about helping,” Cox said.

“We’re glad we’re able to help senior citizens get their houses painted,” said Michael Holliday, the chapter’s president.

A group volunteering for the first time this year was a crew from Church of the Living God, The Pillar and Ground of the Truth on Maupin Street. The Rev. Donald Tolbert, their pastor, said he was cleaning up the lot across the street from the church when Neudecker drove up and approached him about painting the house next to the lot.

Tolbert, who has been the church’s pastor for three years, said the group plans to paint the foundation of the house next to the church as well, “even if we have to buy the paint ourselves. We’re just trying to clean up the community a bit. It’s good for morale.”

“I appreciate the new reverend and all his volunteers,” said homeowner Ernie Wheeler. “I painted it myself 10 years ago and it was a chore. It needed (painting) bad and I needed volunteers to help me.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” said church member Vicki Brown. “Our pastor’s a really hard worker.”

Johndolyn Tolbert, the pastor’s wife, said she wasn’t particularly fond of painting.

“But it needs to be done. We have a very good group of people, very faithful.”

This year, the Bucket Brigade is expected to top 1,200 homes painted. The program covers an area from Jersey County down to Roxana, painting one-story homes whose owners are no longer able to maintain the home themselves. The painting is at no cost to the homeowner if the house is accepted by the Bucket Brigade.