HU teams help beautify city

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By Margaret McKinney
Highlands University

The New Mexico Highlands University soccer and football teams turned out in force April 30 to paint warehouses on 12th Street as part of the third MainStreet de Las Vegas Façade Squad project.

Cindy Collins, executive director for MainStreet, said the Façade Squad works to revitalize downtown commercial buildings to attract more local customers and visitors. The Façade Squad also works to preserve the history and culture of Las Vegas and build community pride.

MainStreet targeted the warehouses on 12th between Douglas Avenue and Bridge Street for painting because Collins said this stretch of 12th is an important link between old town and new town Las Vegas.

“A new paint job like this gives an old building new life,” said T.J. Norris, a senior football player from  Longview, Texas who wielded a paintbrush April 30. “It’s a good way to give back to the community and show that we care. It was satisfying.”

Collins said, “Highlands is really stepping up to help us with the Façade Squad for the third time. It’s a wonderful partnership, and I can’t say enough good things about the student athletes and their coaches. They’re awesome and it’s a joy to work with them.”

Board members from MainStreet and the Las Vegas Rotary Club also lent a hand on April 30.  

First-year head football coach Eric Young was onsite to help supervise his players’ Façade Squad work.

“One of our responsibilities as educators and coaches is to expose our student athletes to community service opportunities through projects like the Façade Squad.” Young said. “It’s also a positive way to help our football team feel at home in Las Vegas and take ownership of their work.”

Head soccer coach Justin Wagar said community service has always been an important part of his soccer program, and his players try to complete a service project every month. The soccer team has participated in three Façade Squads.

“I think it’s important to beautify Las Vegas and help the business people,” said soccer player Cianna Chun-Ming, a junior from Waianae, Hawaii who has painted for all three Façade Squads. “It’s exciting to meet people in town and make the commercial buildings look nicer. It’s also a lot of fun.”

Collins said Highlands University student athletes also provided the elbow grease for Facade Squad painting projects on Grand Avenue in September 2010 and Bridge Street in April 2010.

She said local landmarks like Mary Ann’s Famous Burritos on Grand and the E. Romero Hose and Fire Building on Bridge got face lifts through the hard work of the soccer team and its coaches, head coach Bob DeVries and his cross country and track teams, and rodeo coach Jonathon Peek and his team.

Collins said the Bank of Las Vegas has provided generous support for the Façade Squad’s projects, along with other local merchants. The City of Las Vegas has also provided support for the MainStreet project.

The Price family purchased the paint for its Price’s Furniture warehouse on 12th Street., and Mia Prieskorn supplied the paint for her 12th Street warehouse.