Liberty County is becoming a more vibrant place to live and work with new murals being added to downtown buildings in recent months. At last count, there are 10 murals among the three cities of Cleveland, Dayton and Liberty, two of which are still underway. The city of Dayton tops the list for the number of murals at six, followed by Liberty with three and Cleveland with one.
Five of the murals, including the two that are currently being painted, are the creation of Houston-based artist Cherry Meekins. Her work is seen on the former Cleveland Advocate building on the 100 block of W. Hanson in Cleveland, Bear Plumbing’s building at 106 Cook St. in Dayton, Fregia Insurance Services TWFG, 1399 N. Main St., Liberty, State Farm Agent Tracy Williams’ office at 1710 N. Main St., Liberty, and Texas Kountry Kitchen, 313 N. Main St., Dayton.
Milton Fregia, who owns Fregia Insurance Services TWFG, says the goal is to have his mural ready before Independence Day, which is particularly important to him as it honors U.S. military and first responders.
“We wanted to do something for our veterans and first responders. Cherry came up with an idea to show each individual with their military or first responder side, and their civilian side. We wanted it to be male and female and be representative of the whole community,” Fregia said.
The Fregias hired Meekins for their project after seeing the mural she created on the Tracy Williams State Farm office. Once their mural is complete, the Fregias hope to hold a small celebration with city, community and business leaders.
Meekins’ new mural in Dayton pays tribute to the city’s past in farming, agriculture and rail. It features historic photographs on a background of bluebonnets, a Texas state flag and rice. The mural is part of the City of Dayton and Dayton Enhancement Committee’s efforts to make Dayton a destination city, and includes the hashtag of “DaytripDayton.”
In Liberty, a façade grant program offered through the Liberty Community Development Corporation (LCDC) is smoothing the way for local businesses to incorporate murals into their beautification efforts. Assistant City Manager Chris Jarmon, in charge of Economic and Community Development for the City of Liberty, says the LCDC’s façade grant program is a great way for the City to support existing local businesses.
“The max that is available through the façade grant program is $20,000. The LCDC will go 50/50 with a business up to the $20,000 grant limit. Any improvements more than $40,000 will have to be paid by the business owner, but you will still get $20,000. The only people who qualify for these grants are businesses that are already here. It is not designed for new businesses,” Jarmon said.
The City allocates $100,000 to the façade grant program each year, which means that up to five local businesses could potentially benefit from the maximum amount of grant funds each year, though smaller grants would mean that more businesses potentially could benefit.
Fregia said applying for the grant was a “no brainer” for him as he was already planning to make improvements to his building. In addition to the mural, he added new asphalt to the parking area and is working on new signage and lighting.
“The City pays half up to $40,000. It doesn’t make sense not to take advantage of the opportunity. I think a lot of people out there don’t know about it. I didn’t know about it until Tracy Williams told me about it,” he said. “I think it’s a great program. There is no excuse as long as you have your half of the funds.”
The City of Dayton is pumping the brakes on any future mural projects temporarily, according to City Manager Steve Floyd as the City is still working its way out of a $5 million financial shortfall that was discovered after Floyd became city manager in January 2022 from previous administrations.
“The one that is currently underway in Dayton is the last one that the DCDC (Dayton Community Development Corporation) will be responsible for. What DCDC is opting to do for now is give a flat amount of $10,000 to the Dayton Enhancement Committee and the committee can then decide how they want to spend that $10,000 on projects,” Floyd said.
The City of Cleveland has no façade program but makes grants for beautification efforts to Cleveland businesses on a case-by-case basis, said Cleveland EDC Director Robert Reynolds.
“Our murals are being done by the local business owners,” Reynolds said.
If you own a business in Liberty and are interested in learning more about the façade program, call Chris Jarmon at 936-334-7118 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Dayton Enhancement Committee, contact Dayton Mayor Caroline Wadzeck at email@example.com or Susan Simmons at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a look at some of the murals:
If you would like to see the murals, here’s a complete list of locations:
Cleveland: former Cleveland Advocate building, now owned by Clint Pendleton, 106 W. Hanson St.
– Dayton Broncos mural located on the J. Rollins Construction office near Thriftee Food Center on FM 1960
– “Higher Ground,” a mural that depicts the 2015 cattle drive through Dayton, on the 200 block of E. Clayton St.
– “Bear in the Bathtub,” a mural on the Bear Plumbing building at 106 Cook St.
– A blooming flower mural on Dayton Family Medical Building, located at 205 N. Main St.
– Veterans Memorial Wall, 801 S. Cleveland St., at the Dayton Community Center
– Texas Kountry Kitchen, 313 N. Main St.
– Heritage Market, located on N. Main and Lakeland Drive
– Fregia Insurance Services TWFG, 1399 N. Main St.
– State Farm Agent Tracy Williams’ office at 1710 N. Main St.