Why Bridgeport? A Pretty Impressive First Impression

By Jon Griffith on March 30, 2024 from Why Bridgeport? via

The famous quote, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” is often attributed to Will Rogers or Oscar Wilde. No one definitively knows which, if either, uttered the statement. Regardless, and more importantly, the message is consequential and worthy of our attention.
This concept applies to individuals, businesses, and cities. Everyone wants to make a positive first impression. While a poor first impression can be overcome,it is often long and arduous. It is much easier to get started on the right foot.
As a resident and councilperson, I am occasionally privileged to escort visitors around our community. I take great pride and pleasure in showing off Bridgeport to people for the first time. During these trips around town, I often hear, “What a beautiful community.” Usually followed up with, “How do you manage to keep it so clean and nice”?
My quick and simple response is that we have a great city staff and a community filled with great families. This is generally enough to satisfy their curiosity. Thus enabling us to continue on our way. With me pointing out all of the great things about Bridgeport.
The importance of that first impression on visitors is one that we, as a city, understand and work very hard to accomplish and maintain. Four principal components are utilized to make that good first impression. Three of these are part of the exemplary municipal staff of the City of Bridgeport.
The first element employed by the city is our Code Enforcement group. They have the sometimes unpleasant task of making sure our community’s structures and landscaping meet city ordinance requirements. Keeping lawns cut, ensuring bushes are cut back from sidewalks, checking building code standards are adhered to, and enforcing other property maintenance items are among their duties.
Some people may view their work as intrusive, but being diligent in their assigned tasks raises the value of our residences and properties within the city. What they do helps keep our city well-maintained and attractive while improving our quality of life and the net worth of home and business owners. We owe them a debt of gratitude for the job they do.
Next, we have the Beautification Crew. A recent addition to the City of Bridgeport staff, their job is to patrol the city. Their mission is to make Bridgeport beautiful, as their name implies. That means collecting litter, cutting grass on city properties, watering city flower displays, trimming trees, cleaning sidewalks, and aiding in any way that makes our community more attractive.
In the past, the legendary Annabel Luebbe nearly single-handedly kept Bridgeport free of litter. Even though Annabel is no longer with us, her mission of enthusiastically and dedicatedly walking the streets of Bridgeport and picking up litter has been taken up by the Beautification Crew. Their outstanding efforts have made a significant and visible impact on our community. Annabel would be happy to see their work.
The final contribution of the city toward making that good first impression is our Municipal Street Sweeper. I find it difficult to imagine another community in West Virginia that runs its street sweeper as frequently as the City of Bridgeport. I am thrilled when I see that big white truck rambling through town.
It is not an exaggeration to say the sweeper truck runs year-round. On February 1, 2024, I pulled my truck onto Hall Street and found myself behind them. I followed the sweeper and crew for two blocks as they worked to clear cinders from the streets left in the wake of January’s snowstorm.
It also provides an invaluable service following events like Summer Kickoff, the BHS Homecoming Parade, Light Up Night, and other gatherings that require extensive cleanup. It may be a slow-moving vehicle, but the results are well worth a brief wait from time to time.
The fourth component is comprised of our Bridgeport citizens. We take pride in our homes and businesses. Our residents care about our neighborhoods and their appearance. We go above and beyond to update, maintain, and improve our residences. Not only does it make good financial sense, but their efforts improve the appearance of our neighborhoods and the quality of life for us all.
The same holds for our business owners. With the backing of the Bridgeport Community and Economic Development Department’s business incentives and facade improvement program, local businesses are encouraged to update and improve the appearance of their   offices and storefronts. These programs and motivated and energetic business owners have resulted in substantial positive changes throughout our community.
Finally, the mayor and city council have designated April “Bridgeport Litter Awareness Month”. The overwhelming majority of you already do a great job keeping our city clean, but let's all make it a point to look closely around our property or business during April. It only takes a few seconds to make a big difference. With all of us pitching in, we can create an even better first impression when people come to Bridgeport.
Bridgeport Litter Awareness Month is followed almost immediately by the two weeks of Spring Cleanup Days. The event, coordinated by the Bridgeport Community & Economic Development Department, will occur during the second and third weeks of May this year. The City of Bridgeport contracts with Waste Management to allow residents, on their assigned day, to put nearly anything out to be hauled away free of charge to the residents (except certain hazardous and prohibited items).
Why Bridgeport? Combined, these factors create a first impression that is second to none in West Virginia and beyond. Is that important? Absolutely. Our investment in property improvements and maintenance lifts their values and our quality of life. Additionally, the city receives considerable direct and indirect economic benefits from these efforts.
A welcoming, well-maintained, and beautiful city is an advantage in attracting new and repeat visitors to our community for events, shopping, and dining. It also is a draw for new residents and businesses to locate here. Those benefits may be hard to quantify, but they are substantial.
Some might argue you can’t judge a book by its cover. We know that. Once you make that great first impression, you must back it up with depth and substance. Fortunately for us, that is where Bridgeport shines.
We are blessed with caring, well-educated, and welcoming citizens. Our children are privileged to attend some of the finest schools in the state. We have a dedicated, hard-working, and booming business community. Finally, we are fortunate to have a strong, fiscally responsible, forward-thinking municipal government.
Bridgeport is more than just a great first impression. So much more.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows a Bridgeport Code Enforcement truck, while worker Brian Zannino of Code Enforcement is shown at the bottom. Second photo is of the city's beautification crew at work, while the city's street sweeper is at work in the fourth image.

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