By Cathy Nelson

HOT SPRINGS - Keep Hot Springs Beautiful (K.H.S.B.) held its annual banquet at the Red Rock River Resort on Saturday evening, Nov. 4 with about 55 people attending. The evening culminated with President Beth Spitzer announcing the three winners of the Home Improvement Prize (H.I.P.) and the People’s Choice award for the most beautiful street pod.

Harvey and Jackie Martin of Hot Springs won the People’s Choice award. They have the large pod on the northwest corner where University Avenue and Chicago Avenue meet at the streetlights. The Martins first adopted their pod in 2012. They also won the People’s Choice award in 2013, 2014, and 2016.

The first place winners in the H.I.P. contest were Jim and Marita Brown. Their address is 404 N. 25th St. They received the $1,000 prize.

“This is the seventh house we have landscaped and remodeled,” Marita said. “It’s just what we do.”

They were already in the process of tearing out shrubs and moving in dirt to upgrade their home’s curb appeal when they read about the contest in the Hot Springs Star and decided to enter.

The Browns replaced the house’s siding and installed new windows and storm doors, using a gray and white color scheme. They trimmed their evergreen tree and removed juniper shrubbery. They moved in seven truckloads of soil and landscaped with rock from a local quarry. They replaced the deck’s boards and railing and put in a sprinkler system.

“My favorite part was working on the front incline and making a gravel path,” Marita said.

The second place prize went to Kathy Sanders, who made improvements to the house she owns at 238 N. 4th St., which is next door to the house where she lives. She received $750.

Kathy and a friend, Jay Phelps, painted the outside of the house in beige and sienna with white trim; put in new porch fixtures; used repurposed redwood lumber to renovate the deck and used corrugated tin as an accent piece. They added a pergola, built flower beds and repurposed landscape blocks and timber. They cleaned and leveled out the yard. They also put mosaic tiles in the indentations on either side of the front door.

“People come by and say they like the colors,” Kathy said.

The third place winners were Derrick and Margaret Thaxton, whose house is at 105 S. 4th St. They received $500.

“We are working on our house all the time,” Derrick said. “Our favorite project was the front landscape.”

They leveled out the patio area and renovated the deck. They replaced the porch log posts with wood posts. They power washed the stucco and wood trim and painted the house in antique white with three accent colors of suede, white and blue.

“We love our little house,” Margaret said. “We want to save old houses and preserve our house for years to come.” Their house is more than 100 years old.

To be entered in the H.I.P. contest the home must be within city limits. The improvements must be made by the owners of the house. The project must be completed by September 30, and the majority of the work must be done within the year the homeowners enter the contest.

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In 2018 K.H.S.B. will host a garden tour on June 9, 2018, then again sponsor the H.I.P. contest in 2019, thus switching every other year between the two events, Spitzer said.

The evening’s banquet speaker was Josh Larson, who is a community forester working for the State of South Dakota Department of Agriculture. He explained why Hot Springs should consider becoming a Tree City U.S.A. The designation of Tree City U.S.A. is a national recognition program that began in 1976 and is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters.

He said a community assessment taken four years ago showed that 50 percent of the trees in Hot Springs are willows. The Chinese elm made up 18 percent, and the Siberian elm, ponderosa, green ash, Kentucky coffeetree and various other species made up the remaining 32 percent.

“The benefits of trees are that they increase property value and help decrease storm water damage,” he said. “Also, they are planted for children and grandchildren.”

“Trees don’t cause problems,” Larson said, “People cause problems by the choice of trees they plant and where they plant them.” He showed a video of tree roots that had pushed up and cracked a sidewalk because the tree had been planted in an area too narrow for its roots to spread out without causing damage. He said education on the kind of trees and where to plant them is part of becoming a Tree City U.S.A.

After Larson’s presentation, Spitzer introduced the K.H.S.B. board members and asked if anyone else was interested in serving on the board. When there was no response, the members present voted to retain the current board. The board members are President Beth Spitzer, Vice President Nancy Gregory, Treasurer Amy Symstad, Barbara Walter, Rajni Lerman, John Notheis, Lennie Ramacher, and Joann Walker.

Next, Spitzer gave a rundown on the many activities the organization sponsors throughout the year. Those events include the Great American Cleanup, the Electronics Recycling Event, the Earth Day Rummage Sale, stringing Christmas lights in Centennial Park, the recycling trailer at Shopko, the H.I.P. and the Pod Squad.

“There are 26 downtown corner pods,” Spitzer said. “The Pod Squad spent 600 hours working in their pods this year.”

K.H.S.B. meets the second Tuesday of each month at Pine Hills at 6:30 p.m. Anyone interested in attending the meetings is welcome and should call Beth Spitzer, 745-4876.

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