Painter alum rallies team for new sidewalk art project

Volunteers gather around one of the mascot heads painted on the sidewalks at Batesburg-Leesville High, a project led by a painter with local roots. (Photo courtesy of Mike Goff)

As a professional painter, Mike Goff is accustomed to sprucing-up things.

So, when Mr. Goff visited recently at his alma mater, Batesburg-Leesville High School, for a track meet, his keen eye for the aesthetic seized on something that fell right into his wheelhouse. The Panther trail – the panther paws and mascot heads painted on the sidewalks leading from the school to the football stadium – desperately needed a fresh coat of paint.

The painter’s Panther pride kicked into high gear.

“I spoke with Vickie (Boatwright), the cheerleading coach, and I told her that we really needed to get those panther paws and the mascots painted and updated,” said Mr. Goff, a member of the B-L High Class of 1991 and owner of 7Twelve Design & Builders in Columbia. “I talked with the principal and the coach, and they agreed. So, we did it.”

The first step was getting some new templates drawn and cut out for the updated designs. Mr. Goff contacted former schoolmate Paul Edwards at Edwards Signs & Graphics in Batesburg, which has produced quite a few high-profile sign projects for the school district and other clients around town.

“Paul jumped on-board with us and was tremendously helpful,” Mr. Goff said.

With paw and panther templates in hand, Mr. Goff assembled his team, and the brushes began flying. Joe Tollefson, Eric Tollefson, Dwayne Smith, Amanda Smith, Alvin Abner, Clay Kneece and Mitch Hartley all eagerly took a hand in the project. Within three days, the painting was complete, and the Panther walk had a whole new spirit – complete with dozens of crisp new paws and a couple of large purple panther heads.

“Everybody just worked together real well with getting it coordinated and getting it done,” Mr. Goff said. “We got the school colors matched up. Sherwin Williams provided the paint, and we just went to town.”

The new sidewalk art was completed just in time for this year’s regularly-scheduled 2019 homecoming festivities, which had been planned for the Sept. 13 game against Mid-Carolina. However, stormy weather blew through early that evening and pushed the football game back to the following Monday night.

The homecoming pageantry was postponed two weeks to this Friday’s game against Abbeville. Not only will members of the homecoming court, their friends and family walk into the stadium over the brand-new paws and panthers, but so will new inductees into the Batesburg-Leesville Athletic Hall of Fame. Three more hometown heroes will be honored at halftime this Friday.

“As we prepare for our homecoming festivities, we are extremely grateful for the many volunteers who gave of their time to help beautify the campus of B-L High School,” Principal Sonya Bryant said. “The support that the members of the Batesburg-Leesville community provide to our students and school is like no other, and that’s why B-L High School is so fortunate to call this amazing little town home.”

Now, the painter and his crew can take great pride in knowing that thousands of people will have their artwork under foot not just for this homecoming Friday but for many months and years to come.

“To help out the community, to help out the school, to take part in something like this – it really inspired me,” Mr. Goff said. “That’s really what it’s all about, helping other people

Story by Tony Baughman / Posted October 3, 2019