Small flowers in downtown Burney, once stolen but now replaced, bring back big sense of pride

BURNEY — When someone stole all the flowers off the back of a wagon in downtown Burney earlier this year the entire community seemed to notice, with many area residents decrying the increase of thefts and vandalism in the small mountain community of just 3,200 residents. Sadly, the beautiful, donated wagon – which sits at the corner of Main and Hudson streets – sat empty and sad looking for some weeks without change.

That is until several area residents decided to take matters into their own hands and help the situation by replacing and caring for a whole new wagon-full of beautifully colored flowers.

The wagon is now overflowing with flowers of every color and is once again a huge source of pride – not just for Burney residents but all who live in the Intermountain area who say they could not be happier with the beautiful results.


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Burney resident Lois Brixey, who moved to Burney in 1989 after the Loma Prieta earthquake, recently told SCNS she was disheartened after learning about the flower thefts last June.

Once empty and bare, Burney’s flower wagon now sits beautifully full once again. Jill Binger photo

“It’s just sad,” said Brixey. “Burney was such a different place back then. Our town really needs help and sometimes it’s the smallest of things that can make a big difference.”

“This is good for us as a community and great for our town spirit,” Brixey explained. “And of course having a beautiful city is always good for tourism.”

Although the person who first re-planted the flowers has chosen to remain anonymous, Burney residents Jill Binger and Stephanie Sheffer – who are both members of Burney’s Beautification Committee – played active roles in helping to ensure the flowers had every opportunity to blossom.

Binger recently explained to SCNS that she and Sheffer met while serving on the Burney Beautification Committee and working together around the community.

“We were fixing up a flower bed next to Circle of Friends and she helped with that and then became involved with the committee,” Binger explained of Sheffer and how the two met.

“I’m always excited when young people get involved because everyone is getting older in our group and not always able to help out,” Binger continued.

“But if everyone did a little something, together we could make our little town a place we are proud to call home, one step at a time,” Binger explained.

Binger was one of the first Burney residents to notice the huge gap left by the stolen flowers that once filled the wagon and she lamented the thefts in a June 28 social media post on Facebook.

“There was a huge hole where someone stole all the flowers,” Binger later said, while explaining why she decided to get involved and take matters into her own hands.

After making the post Binger said she got a huge response, but nothing changed right away and the wagon remained gutted for several weeks.

Binger said she finally went out and bought a bunch of flowers and plants to fill the gap left by the flower thiefs. But when she went to plant them, she realized someone had beat her to it and had already filled the wagon with all new flowers and plants.

“So, I added to all the new flowers in the wagon and we just started watering,” Binger explained of her and Sheffer’s efforts to make Burney a bit brighter and more colorful.

“Thankfully, the flowers survived the summer’s heat and took off,” Binger enthused.

“It’s really been a rough summer for a lot of people with the fires and all the stealing going on around town and I just thought everyone could use some good news,” Jill Binger later said of the flowers. Jill Binger photo

“Stephanie has been watering every day and using miracle grow once a week and just giving the wagon the attention it needs to look really nice this summer,” Binger explained. “It’s really been a rough summer for a lot of people with the fires and all the stealing going on around town and I just thought everyone could use some good news.”

Although Binger described replacing the flowers as “insignificant,” and just “a small example” of how much difference community involvement and active communication between community members can make in her post about the replaced flowers, other Burney residents were quick to disagree, but in a very positive way.

“Such a positive bit of beauty and class brought to our town,” Burney resident, Greg Gilbert, wrote online after Binger shared her social media post about the flowers. “I sure wish we could have about ten more of those wagons filled with colorful life!”

“This is definitely not insignificant,” area resident Chelsea Strawn wrote in an online comment. “Kindness, generosity and beauty bring so much positivity that it could never be insignificant. This brightened my day. It’s the little things.”

“Special thanks to the person who took the time to replace (and) maintain this beautiful wagon!” Facebook user Jess’ica Jim wrote about the recently replaced and beautifully maintained flowers. “What a significant amount of community pride. Thank u all!”

“We live among a lot of fine folks here and are very fortunate,” Jessica Sharp recently told SCNS regarding the wagon and replaced flowers.

“We don’t have a state/county funded public works in Burney,” Sharp explained. “So, it takes a community of volunteers to maintain all the beauty you see around town.”

Robin Montgomery, who moved to Johnson Park last year and recently joined Burney’s Beautification Committee agreed with Sharp, saying, “When all residents get involved and do their part – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – we can all make a difference and see a positive change within our community.”

For more information about joining the Burney Beautification Committee or how you can help keep Burney beautiful, join BBC’s new Facebook page or contact Jill Binger at (530) 335-3828.


Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 47, recently moved to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 14 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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