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Hometown Hero | Sue Burke

Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 6:51 PM EDT
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PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) - Not everyone has a green thumb, and it can be hard to keep plants and flowers alive and thriving.

So when someone takes the time and energy to spend on sprucing up the community, residents take notice.

One woman is making sure downtown Portsmouth blooms as beautiful as the people who live there.

“I’m filthy,” said Sue Burke as she gets out of her pickup truck to meet some friends.

If the dirt is any indication, Sue Burke works hard, pouring her heart, soul, and a little bit of sweat into making Portsmouth proud.

For friends, she’s the character they all admire.

“She’s the energizer bunny. She never stops, she never rests,” said Mary Martha Questel.

Her handiwork can be seen from street to street: more than 150 hanging baskets hung with care.

Sue leads a group of volunteers who range from 20 to 70-plus years old.

“There are flowers everywhere, and they change them just like magic,” Questel said.

Many business owners and residents have been hard at work for the last few years, painting and improving storefronts to revitalize the downtown area.

“Without trees and flowers, it looks pretty sterile,” Burke said.

So Sue is doing her part and adding a splash of color where she can.

“I love making people smile,” she said. “Flowers make you smile.”

It’s not just her landscaping skills on display. Between the planters, she also sprinkles in her love of gardening, which she’s been sharing with others for almost two decades, taking something old and making it new again.

“There’s another building that collapsed and the Land Reutilization Committee gave Main Street the property and we’ve turned it into a courtyard,” Burke said.

No matter how many tools are in this shed, neighbors say they hope others will take note and use every opportunity to plant a good seed, wherever they go.

“If you see something that needs done, do it. Get involved,” Questel said.

In this case, a garden really is a friend you can visit anytime.

Friends nominated Sue Burke to be this week’s Hometown Hero and tell WSAZ they look forward to all of the joy and smiles still to blossom.

Copyright 2020 WSAZ. All rights reserved.

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