By Frank Lewis
Every year, for the past five years, First Ward Portsmouth City Councilman Kevin W. Johnson has shown his appreciation to individual citizens and businesses by handing out his Good Neighbor awards. This year Johnson has given Good Neighbor awards to Linda Switzer, of 319 Front St., and Andrea and John McClellan, of 327 Front St. In addition, Johnson save Switzer a certificate of appreciation for being Portsmouth’s unofficial ambassador to those who visit the city and the floodwall murals.
“I have noticed those two properties for some time and I’ve been meaning to catch up with them,” Johnson said. “What Linda Switzer does for us is just incredible. I’m certainly not depreciating what our Welcome Center does, but her effort is much more personal. People love it and I wanted to recognize her for that.”
Johnson said he believes the effort to hand out the awards is important for the community.
“For me it does a couple of things,” Johnson said. “A lot of people always talk about the condition of Portsmouth and yes, we do have some problems, but we also have a lot of people who go out of their way to improve their property, make their neighborhoods look nice and I think it’s important. I’m just a Council member but I think it’s important for all of us to recognize those people who go above and beyond.”
Johnson said he does not select a property just because it’s grass is cut and other exterior things are done to it.
“Everyone one of them are unique and their flower arrangements and design as well as the upkeep,” Johnson said. “Above and beyond is what I really look for.”
Johnson said he walks for exercise, which gives him the opportunity to see properties up close and personal.
“So when I come across properties like this it just makes my walk so much more enjoyable,” Johnson said. “Most of my walks now are around Alexandria Point Park, It’s so gorgeous down there. I’m one of those who loves architecture and loves buildings and what they’ve done. So when I come across a property that has been well maintained and obviously the owners have taken pride in it, it makes the walk so much more enjoyable.”
Some of the businesses Johnson has given awards to over the years include Buffalo Wild Wings, Donna Wolery’s, The drive-in at American Savings Bank, and the drive-in at Desco Federal Credit Union.
Johnson said anyone with ideas as to a property they believe deserves an award should contact him.
“This isn’t new,” Johnson said. “Its a continuation of what I have been trying to do every year.”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.