AYER -- They answered the call.
J&S Business Products of 17 Main Street in Ayer read the Ayer Public Spirit article on June 8 entitled "Hillman hopes to beautify town's traffic islands." The story reported on a call to action made by Ayer Selectman Christopher Hillman in hopes of rallying businesses and groups to sponsor and spruce-up traffic islands and revamp roadside views.
"I read about it in the paper and I immediately sent Chris an email saying we're interested," said J&S Business Products co-owner Jose Banchs. Banchs and his business partner, Scott Russell, are both Ayer High School graduates (Class of 1992 and 2000, respectively)
The company chose to overhaul the traffic island on Carlton Circle in front of the McDonald's Restaurant. "We know a lot of traffic goes by that area and the restaurant generates a lot of in and out traffic for the circle," said Banchs.
The difference is like night and day.
Banchs and Russell credit a friend with doing most of the hard work. The island make-over started with pulling weeds, then spreading gravel, a couple yards of loam and four yards of rich chocolate brown colored mulch, planting shrubs and installing an oaken bucket loaded with burgundy ornamental grass.
J&S Business Products not only performed the labor but also paid for the materials used.
"It's such a nice town. We like to do what we can to help the community," said Russell. "In this way, we can make it look a little
Ideally, the gesture will also generate business. "We're hoping when it comes to business products, people will try to stay local," said Banchs. "The small businesses in Ayer give back as much as we can and hopefully people will stay in town when they make their purchases."
J&S Business Products offers both business printing and screen printing services. As such, J&S Business Products will also design the signs that will adorn each spruced- up and sponsored traffic island. A final design is still in the works.
"People will be able to see it but we don't want it to be too outrageous," said Banchs.
"They will not be huge," agreed Russell. "But they will still give people some recognition."
Banchs said the feedback was immediate. "When my friend was doing the work over there, he said he must have had 50 people tell him how good it looked and 'Thank you.' He couldn't believe the amount of people that would roll down their window and say something to him as he was doing the work."
Hillman said he, likewise, was flooded with positive feedback on the first traffic island make-over. Hillman had high praise for J&S Business Products for stepping up to the plate.
"I think it's great that, as a downtown business, Jose and Scott were so enthusiastic from the get-go," said Hillman. "I think Jose emailed me the day after the story was published. He's been ready to go since then."
Hillman said another company is due to begin work to beautify the traffic island between Gervais Ford and the Tidal Wave Car Wash this week. The larger grassy center of the traffic circle itself is going to be worked on by MassDOT in terms of tree pruning.
Hillman said his Hillco Heating & Cooling business will likely overhaul another island at by either the Barnum Road entrance to Devens or the island between Wendy's Restaurant and Gervais Ford. Meanwhile, Hillman said Ayer Economic Development Director David Maher has helped identify some 15 traffic islands in need of attention in Ayer. However, further study is needed in some instances to ensure the land is town-owned, and not privately-owned.
Russell and Banchs were happy to lend a hand.
"We're just trying to give back to the community a little bit and we're hoping some of the other businesses see what we did and take on an island of their own," said Banchs .
Those interested in adopting an island can contact Hillman directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.