, Muskogee, OK

September 15, 2013

Porum house becomes painting place

Volunteers help mayor spruce up aging home

By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer

— PORUM — Hailey Varnell said spending her Saturday putting two coats of paint on a house felt more like play than work.

“I’m out here to help the town a little bit, to make it look better,” she said. “I like painting, and a house is certainly a big painting project.”

Varnell, a junior at Porum High School, was joined by several other students, a handful of adults and Mayor Trisha McCarn to put a fresh look on an antiquated home.

The work was done in conjunction with Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, a nonprofit organization that helps provide supplies for towns looking for opportunities to refurbish and restore.

McCarn said she hoped the town could keep the work going.

“I’ve been in office since April and I’m trying to get the community involved,” she said. “I’ve gotten a few teenagers to help, but it’s hard to get them around on a Saturday. The ones who did come out have worked very hard, and we’ll stay out here until we’re done.”

McCarn also said it was age, not negligence, that necessitated the project.

“It’s one of those things where a lot of these homes were built 60 or 70 years ago,” she said. “It’s hard to maintain something for that long. I’m just really excited about getting all these volunteers together and working for my town.”

The weather cooperated, with high temperatures in the upper 80s and a light breeze blowing to help dry the paint faster. Volunteers took a break for lunch, which was donated by the Assembly of God church in Porum.

Marvin Varnell, a road construction worker, said he’s lived in Porum all of his life and he wants to see it brought back to its former glory.

“This was once a booming little town,” he said. “I was born and raised here, and I’m trying to help improve the town. The better it looks, the more visitors come to town, and the more businesses come to town.”

McCarn also got potted flowers to put on the home’s front porch, in hope of winning a contest sponsored by Keep Oklahoma Beautiful.

“I feel like it makes a good impression on visitors and people who live here,” she said. “I want to do more projects. Pretty much every business in town has helped me out with this by giving us money or making a donation.”

Hailey Varnell said she enjoyed the project, and she hoped more of her peers would join her on the next one.

“I like volunteering,” she said. “I like helping other people who are maybe less fortunate than me. I feel happy when I do that. And I think all of my friends need to get involved in this town and all it has to offer.”

Brody Johnson, another junior at Porum High School, echoed those thoughts.

“Everyone out here is having fun,” he said. “We’re all glad for the chance to help the community.”

Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or