FLORENCE — At first glance, the new sign on U.S. 72 welcoming motorists to Florence is rather ordinary, but a closer look reveals something unique.
The sign is made from recycled materials, the lighting is solar-powered, as is the pump that uses captured rain water to irrigate the flowers around the sign.
“This is the first sign the city has done this way — environmentally friendly and green,” said David Koonce, Public Works director and head of the city’s recycling program. “It makes a statement about the city as a whole, what we believe in.”
Florence adopted a Green Team Partnership about four years ago that sets environmentally friendly standards and encourages businesses and individuals to recycle. Mayor Bobby Irons said the city was inspired to create the program by Centiva International Flooring Co. founder Thomas Trissl, whose Florence facility recycles and reuses virtually everything that comes through the doors.
Centiva and Trissl contributed $6,000 toward construction of the sign.
“Trissl came to me a few months ago wanting to help the city with a project,” Irons said. “I mentioned that we need an entrance sign for the eastern part of the city. We worked this into a green project as a way to honor Trissl.”
Koonce and Rachel Mansell, head of the recycling center, began working up ideas for the welcome sign that would have a low environmental impact and a low cost of operation. They selected a site on the north side of U.S. 72 owned by the city Electricity Department, and with the help of several city departments, drew up the plans and built the sign.
“We are using solar lighting instead of being hooked to a meter. We have a solar irrigation system with a rain barrel from the uphill lot,” Koonce said. “The mulched tire chips were donated by First United Methodist Church, which had been using them in their playground, so that has had two lives.”
Centiva and Trissl contributed about half the cost of the sign, with the city using its way-finding fund for the remainder of the cost, Koonce said.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.