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Traffic boxes in Stow highlight local artists, including girl who died from brain tumor in 2007

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Posted at 5:11 PM, Jun 21, 2022

STOW, Ohio — Infrastructure is not always meant to look pretty, but for one Summit County community, they’re trying to change that.

The city of Stow just completed Phase II of its traffic box beautification project, wrapping 20 boxes this year after completing 16 in 2021.

“They’re out there kind of like an Easter egg hunt,” Stow Mayor John Pribonic explained. “Traffic signal boxes are everywhere. Do people notice them? No, but now they do.”

These neighborhood nerve centers now feature a pop of color with the help of artwork submitted by local artists.

Many of the newly wrapped boxes are featured at intersections along Fishcreek Road, Hudson Drive, Kent Road and Steel Corners Road.

With almost every traffic box, the artist saw their work come to life, except in one case.

In the heart of Stow’s "Safety Village," where children learn how to grow up, the essence of 12-year-old Katherine McVey keeps watch, captured with the brightest art from her darkest day.

“The front of the box is the artwork she actually drew,” mother Paula McVey explained. “She was coloring in the lobby of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital while we were waiting for her MRI results that told us the tumor had come back and there was nothing more they could do for us.”

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Katherine was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and given less than two months to live. Her mother told News 5 from that moment, her family worked to offer her the best 15 months of her life before she passed away in 2007.

“Her lesson was: do it today, don’t wait for tomorrow,” Paula McVey added.

So when this project came up, so did an opportunity to share Katherine's words of wisdom, in a place she loved.

“She loved flowers, she loved outside and most of all she loved poetry,” her mother said. “It’s the most amazing feeling of joy in my heart to know this community has never forgotten her. Now, everyone gets to enjoy a little piece of her artwork, which is just amazing.”

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The city of Stow plans on beautifying another 14 traffic boxes next year and plans to open up applications sometime early next year.