PAHOKEE — The city resumed giving out its regular recognition awards to residents who go above and beyond in improving their homes, lawns and properties, after having missed a few months due to other priorities, at the last city commission meeting March 27.
City Manager Chandler Williamson explained: “Some time ago last year, we created a … Lawn of the Month prize, which is awarded to a homeowner who has maintained their lawn and stands above the crowd. They receive a $75 check from the city and they also get to have that sign placed in their yard for 30 days that says ‘Lawn of the Month.’
“The intent is to encourage all of our neighbors and residents to continue to work together to increase our value in our homes and take pride in our homes – not like we don’t now, but we wanted to recognize those homes that stand out in the community and let them know that we appreciate them making this city beautiful.”
Mayor Keith Babb Jr. said in presenting that award to Everett McPherson: “We encourage you to continue making your yard beautiful, because we know that’s going to have a contagious effect on the community. We encourage others to follow suit. We also encourage you to shop and spend this money locally!”
Mr. McPherson thanked the commission and said: “But I wasn’t doing it for an award. I live in Pahokee and I thought about moving a lot of times, but this is where I was raised and I want to help make our community better.” The audience gave him polite applause as he walked back to his seat.
The other prize is Mayor Babb’s Golden Hammer & Nail Award. Mr. Williamson said, “It’s designed to recognize a homeowner who not only has maintained their lawn but has gone beyond that and done major renovations to increase the value of their home, their community and their neighbors’ homes.”
The quarterly award was given to Samuel J. Martiello Jr., who bought an old funeral home on Cypress Avenue, began renovating it and then moved from Broward County, business and all.
“I visited him probably in late fall, and I … said, ‘You’re going to turn this into a home?’ And he said, ‘Yeah!” Mr. Williamson related, noting that Mr. Martiello is a real estate broker who’s even sold a home to one of the city staff.
“And I couldn’t imagine him doing the renovations to that building based on what I saw at the time. But I went back … and it is amazing what he has done to this structure. It is now a residence, it has six bedrooms, and … you gotta give it to this man,” he said.
Mayor Babb let newly elected Commissioner Benny Everett III present the check to Mr. Martiello. “We’re glad to give you this token of love,” Mr. Everett told him.
“I am honored for this,” Mr. Martiello responded. “I mean, the house needed a lot of work. And I’ve been working on this house for over a year and a half. I moved in March or April of last year, but it just took a lot of work – 340 sheets of drywall. So it’s a big project, but I’m very happy to be here. You have no idea, moving from Broward to here, it’s like night and day. I get nervous when I have to drive south!”
Mr. Williamson finished: “We hope that this encourages all of our homeowners to get into the habit of maintaining their homes, pressure-washing their homes, repainting, because that only uplifts this community and gives us an opportunity to really showcase who we are here in the City of Pahokee as residents and as homeowners. So thank you very much, Sam.”