Electrician leads charge to change lights

DEWITT — While Brian Green attended a Cub Scout meeting with his stepson on a recent evening at the DeWitt Community Center, a light bulb went off in his head.

About the light bulbs above his head, that is.

“I thought the lights looked … original,” Green said of the fixtures inside the building that was dedicated in February 1978. Indeed, the fixtures were the originals, said DeWitt City Administrator Steve Lindner.

At the same time, Green, who is a 1994 Central DeWitt graduate and was born and raised in DeWitt, had another epiphany.

“I thought, 'You know what? I think it’s time I start doing something for my community,'” he said.

As a project supervisor for Shaw Electric in Davenport, the son of Chuck and Barb Green knows a thing or two about electrical work.

He also knew where he could find a top-notch crew of professionals to help replace all the lights in the entire building, including the kitchen and bathrooms.

Green had to look no further than his co-workers.

After they readily agreed to donate their time and expertise, Green began asking area residents and businesses to help cover the expenses of replacing the old, fluorescent lights with brand-new LED lights.

Once again, he was grateful not to have to look far to obtain the funds he needed to complete the project.

“A lot of people donated money,” Green said with a smile. “It was pretty cool.”

His next step was to talk to city officials, including DeWitt City Administrator Steve Lindner and Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Lake.

Lake said that over the years, there have been discussions about updating the community center, including the lights.

But he never anticipated someone would offer to provide the materials and the labor for the job out of the goodness of their hearts.

“I thought, ‘Wow, what a wonderful opportunity for the DeWitt Community Center,’” Lake related. “We are lucky to have generous people like Brian and his expert helpers willing to give their time and talents to their community. Many will benefit from this act of kindness.”

Green and his crew of eight volunteers, including his 19-year-old son Derek, who also works at Shaw Electric, set to work.

By early afternoon, they had finished and the results were both obvious and impressive.

“[The new lights] just make the room look brighter and bigger,” Green said as he stood in the large room on the north side of the building.

The new LED lights are flush with the ceiling, as opposed to the old fluorescent lights, which hung down a few inches.

Given the lights last longer than fluorescent lights and are more energy-efficient, Green hopes they will save the city money for years to come.

Such a project — including labor, parts and disposal of the old fixtures — would have cost the city between $7,000 and $8,000.