Published 12:00 am Friday, March 2, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — It’s hard to surprise Susan Kluttz.
After serving 14 years as mayor and now as mayor pro tem, Kluttz has had a hand in nearly every major city initiative since she was first elected in 1997.
But her colleagues caught Kluttz off guard Friday when she won the 2012 Mayor’s Cup during an awards luncheon.
“She has worked so hard for this city,” said Mayor Paul Woodson while presenting the award to Kluttz, the city’s longest-serving mayor.
Every other year, the Salisbury Community Appearance Commission and Tree Board honor people, businesses and organizations. Friday’s event was dubbed “Leap of Faith” in honor of Leap Year and the bold efforts undertaken to make Salisbury a better place to live.
Commission Chairwoman Barbara Perry told the large crowd she’d just learned that the city’s BlockWork project is a finalist for USA Weekend’s Make a Difference Day Awards.
The prestigious Mayor’s Cup recognizes sustained contributions to the city. Kluttz has worked to promote better race relations and housing, leading to the creation of Covenant Community Connection and the Salisbury Community Development Corporation.
She helped establish Project Safe Neighborhoods and create a Community Intervention Team.
Kluttz led two community gang summits and as mayor, personally met with 1,600 third-graders each year to promote good citizenship, provide motivation and encourage gang prevention.
Kluttz also represented Salisbury on the state and national stage, helping organize the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition and serving on numerous influential state commissions.
Other awards:
• Brooklyn-South Square won the Margaret H. Kluttz Neighborhood Improvement Award for participating in the first BlockWork project.
About 90 volunteers worked all day Oct. 22 on an extreme neighborhood makeover in the 200 and 300 blocks of South Shaver Street, including landscaping, painting and building fences and walkways.
Coincidentally, the project was held on Make a Difference Day and ranks as a finalist for the USA Weekend award.
• Bill Burgin won another top honor, the James A. Dunn Award for exceptional contributions to the improvement of downtown.
Burgin, an architect, has led the renovation of several prominent downtown landmarks, including the old Mayfield Building and the Rowan County Adminstration Building. Burgin will design the Rowan-Salisbury Schools administration central office on South Main Street.
He sat on City Council for 12 years, including serving as chairman of the Salisbury 2020 Vision committee.
“Bill’s creative skills with a drawing tool are only matched by his ability to find solutions for the most challenging situations,” said Jim Dunn, who presented the award, which is named for him.
• Rowan-Cabarrus Community College won the Sustainable Salisbury Award for constructing the 400 Building with environmental sensitivity.
Kluttz presented the award and called RCCC a “city treasure,” particularly the college’s work in the past decade to retrain desperate people laid off from textile and other manufacturing jobs so they can find work.
Five out-of-town judges made up the jury for the Community Appearance Commission Awards, which included:
• Sacred Heart Catholic Church and School, best new construction
• Sheetz, best new national franchise construction
• Habitat for Humanity ReStore, best renovation outside downtown
• Hardiman Building and Bangkok Downtown, best downtown building renovation
• The Norvell Theater, best adaptive reuse
• Fine Frame Gallery, best downtown facade renovation
• Caniche, best downtown facade improvement
• City of Salisbury’s parking lot in the 100 block of East Innes Street, best site improvement
• Railwalk Arts District, best signage
Rodney Queen, chairman of the Tree Board, presented three awards.
The city’s GIS Division and Coordinator Kathryn Clifton won the Tree Steward Award for completing an inventory of 2,759 trees in the heart of the city and creating a database with each tree’s height, diameter, genus and species, condition, location, type of growth space, impediments to growth and more.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church won the Tree Preservation Award for taking good care of a large willow tree on its campus.
St. John’s Lutheran Church won the Tree Planting Award for tearing down the old Ktown building at the corner of West Innes and Fulton streets and turning the property into green space, including five new maple trees.
Everyone who was honored with a Landscape of the Month or Holiday Storefront Decorations award in the past two years was recognized.
Organizations participating in the Adopt-a-Street program also were honored, including AME Zion, New Horizons with Rowan Helping Ministries, Livingstone College, Eureka Masonic Lodge No. 4, J.C. Price American Legion Post 107 and Sisters of Essence Order of Eastern Stars.
Before the awards, Greg Shields talked about how he and wife Kristin Shields left their harried life in a Washington, D.C. suburb to buy a historic home on Fulton Street in Salisbury.
They enjoy the slower pace, he said.
“You don’t spend all of your life in you car getting from place A to place B,” said Shields, a board member for Downtown Salisbury Inc. “Your pulse slows down. You have time to spend with friends and family.”
The couple didn’t quit their jobs and now work remotely. They were featured in a real estate textbook as an example of the new “location-neutral urban migrant,” or someone who can choose where to live regardless of proximity to a job.
“We made a leap of faith and up and moved,” he said.
Shields showed several before-and-after slides to demonstrate building and facade improvements since he’s lived in Salisbury, including the Kress Building, Critters, Pottery 101, Walser Technology Group, Simply Good and the Literary Bookpost.
“Thank you for making where I live a nicer place,” Shields said.

Appearance board’s creations
Chartered in 1984, the Community Appearance Commission has helped establish:
 Tree Board
 Hurley Park
 Public Art Committee and the Salisbury Sculpture Show
Neighborhood Leaders Alliance
 City Code Enforcement Department
 Median on West Innes Street
 Median on Link Avenue
 Sidewalk trees on Main and Innes streets
 Facade grants
 Planters, benches and trash cans downtown
 Christmas lights on Gateway Bridge

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.