Forgive us for being absent from this space for so long. We’ve been extremely busy with other tasks, but we understand the importance of this space and vow to keep it filled with informed opinion on a more regular basis.

That said, let’s dig into an issue that we feel is hindering our city: Blight.

It seems that around most every corner there is an old house or business that’s run down. We aren’t talking about abandoned properties, either. These properties are inhabited with either residents or stores.

With the Urban Renewal Agency trying to rid the city of blight — mostly abandoned properties in the city’s core — we need to do something to encourage home and business owners to spruce up their spaces as well. We understand that money is very tight these days, but a few gallons of paint can be managed by almost any business owner.

In addition, we have a proposal. A few years ago we were made aware of a program in Magnolia that gathered groups of volunteers once a month to target an area of the city for cosmetic improvements. They painted buildings, planted flowers, trees, etc.

Why can’t we do that here?

We can think of at least two or three businesses along Blake Street that just look awful. They appear as if they were painted by spray cans and their overall look is far from professional. These kinds of things send the wrong message about our city to the rest of the world.

Perhaps with a little coaxing or with help from volunteers, these business owners would allow more aesthetically pleasing layers of paint to be applied to their buildings.

According to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle by business expert Felicia Green, “Potential customers form their first impressions of your business by viewing the building’s exterior. Repairing hanging gutters, delaminated trim or sagging awnings demonstrates that you take pride in your business premises’ appearance.

“If your building has begun to show its age, hire a painting contractor to apply a fresh coat of paint. Contract for power washing or other cosmetic services on a stone or brick building. If you don’t own the building, negotiate your improvements with your landlord.”

Additionally, Green writes that professional signage appearance is important for local businesses.

“While nicely maintained exterior signage announces your business’s presence, it also implies that you care how your business premises appear to customers,” she wrote. “Signs with chipped paint, missing letters or burned-out bulbs create less-than-positive impressions.”

Back to those businesses we mentioned on Blake Street, some of the signs are deplorable and look downright trashy.

So here’s the deal, Pine Bluff. Let’s try to encourage everyone to put their best foot forward and represent our city well. And, if they are not able to do so financially, let’s all try to help them out one paintbrush at a time. We believe the benefits will help our city blossom.