Montreat Minute March 6, 2020

The First Lady of Trash

Brace yourself: In this beautiful, peaceful, quaint place we call Montreat, people throw trash on the ground. Yes, it happens. No doubt you have driven down Assembly Drive and seen drink cups, wrappers and other assorted trash along the road. It aggravates most of us. But for one person, she decided to do something about it. Once or twice a week, Mimi Helms sets off on foot from her home on South Carolina Terrace with her tools in hand—two tall kitchen garbage bags and a grabber tool—headed for the central district of Montreat with one purpose in mind. She picks up trash. A lot of it. She fills at least one garbage bag, and sometimes two, on each excursion. It takes her approximately 1½ hours to do her trash route, which often takes her down Kentucky, through the Montreat College campus, past Anderson Auditorium, around the lake, over to the gym and the Barn and back home.

Mimi, the wife of Mayor Tim Helms, has been doing this weekly routine for about three years. Why? As she said, “Most First Ladies have had a platform or passion when their husband’s were President. I have one too, and mine is trash.” When told it seems quite a commitment and time consuming, Mimi quipped, “It’s a small price to pay for living in paradise!” Mayor Tim supports her efforts. In fact, two years ago, he gave Mimi a pair of trash grabbers for Valentine’s Day so she wouldn’t have to lean down to pick up the trash.

She also says her work is a great conversation starter. She meets residents, visitors, students, employees and others in her wanderings and often has great conversations. Many people thank her for her efforts. “I always tell them to tell their friends to use the trash receptacles.” So, she’s an educator as well!

What does she get out of it? One time she found a full breakfast of pancakes, syrup, and bacon in a carry out container outside of Howerton Hall. But she didn’t eat it. And, during her three years of duty, she has found a total of $1.27. But the real benefit to Mimi is helping make this beautiful place a little more pristine.

Want to join in on this effort? There are no sign up sheets, no club to join and no meetings to attend. All you need is a couple kitchen garbage bags, an optional trash grabber, and a spirit of willingness. Thank you, Mimi, for what you do.

Project Updates

  • Greybeard Trail—

This was a good week for progress on this project. The upper half of the retaining wall is nearly complete and much of the wall has been backfilled up to street level. The contractor expects to complete the remaining portion of the wall and place natural boulders at the base of the wall next week. The following two weeks will be spent in finishing and cleaning up the project area, with an expectation, weather permitting, that the road will be re-opened to traffic the week of March 23.  The road will likely not be paved until the spring when the asphalt plants reopen. We are most grateful to the travelers, especially those living up and off Greybeard Trail, who have endured the trials and tribulations of the detour.

  • Town Hall—

Interior progress continues at a constant pace. Nearly all interior trim work has been completed and primer and first paint coats have been applied. Doors have been hung and the break room cabinets and counter top have been installed. The stone floor will be started next week. Outside, the contractor has been trying to pave the driveway and parking area for two weeks, but the weather hasn’t cooperated. Hopefully it can be done quickly. Then, preliminary tree planting and other grounds work can be done.

  • Public Works (PW) Building—

A stone retaining wall has been completed which will improve access to the new PW building. Footers have been dug and concrete forms are being installed, with the hope that the footers and slab can be poured next week, again weather permitting.

Obviously, much is happening in our town.

Town Council Meeting Next Week

The March Montreat Town Council meeting will be held, Thursday, March 12, at 7:00pm in the Walkup Building. The Public Forum precedes the Council meeting at 6:30. Everyone is welcome. For a copy of the agenda, CLICK HERE. If you can’t make the meeting, live stream it by going to the Town Facebook page: www.facebook/TownofMontreat

Burning Questions?

Do you have Town-related questions you would like answered? If so, please send them to Angela Murphy at [email protected] and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Have a great weekend.

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