Glouster Man’s Effort To Revive Town With Paint Continues To Grow

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UPDATED: Wednesday September 25, 2013 6:27 PM

A few years ago, you couldn’t walk into Josie’s Old Company Store, because it did not exist.

The Glouster business sells everything from handmade jewelry to produce to coal art.

It is Ohio coal, which makes sense when you look at the history of the town. Glouster boomed as a coal town, but when the industry collapsed, so did the town.

“There's no work in these hills,” said Chuck Wood.

Wood returned to Glouster after spending years away from his childhood home.

He was sad about what he saw when he came back to the place he loved.

“The buildings had collapsed. I don’t know, it was like a dream that had gone wrong,” he said.

Wood was not the only one who felt that way.

“And I thought, this town needs a friend, and I thought, ‘What can I do to perk it up a bit?’” said James Cotter.

Cotter, a painter, pulled out his brush and got to work. He decided that a fresh coat of paint on Glouster surfaces was needed to begin its bounce back.

He does it for free, and his campaign has grown.

Since 2012, the volunteer ranks have grown to include people painting homes and businesses and sports fields.

CBS News even covered the revival, and small donations started to pour in from all over the country to cover material costs. Many included kind notes.

“It's amazing what a little paint will do,” said Cotter. “More than anything else, it gives people hope.”

Wood agrees.

“It's just amazing. He inspired me (to) get busy and do something,” said Wood.

Wood and his wife, Josie, were inspired to open a company store.

It means new life for an old town, and the facelift continues.

“He said, ‘What do you think about putting Norman Rockwell on the walls here?’ And I told him ‘Jim, I'm not into art, but I know Norman Rockwell and Saturday Evening Post,’ and I said, ‘You've got to be kidding,’” said Wood.

Cotter wasn’t. The painter worked to bring in some of the masters to downtown Glouster. Jumbo prints of four works of art were put in place.

“They are awesome, they are awesome,” said L.R. Faires, a Glouster resident.

Wood says they add a little class and build on what they have been trying to restore – one brush stroke at a time, one business at a time.

“It is important to try and bring this back to something we can be proud of. You can see it by our flags - Pride. That's the word – Pride.”

Wood takes Glouster’s renaissance very seriously.  He is the chairman of the up-coming Appalachian Color in the Hills Festival from October 4-6.  He says the fest featuring music, food and arts and crafts is a way for Glouster to roll out the welcome mat and say “look what we’re doing here.”

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