Photographer steps up to enhance Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown

Rivertown-based photographer, Michael Pohl cleaning benches before the Rivertown Wine Walk in May. Photo by Ron Bernal.

By John Crowder

While it’s common to hear many people complain about government services being too slow or unresponsive, one local businessman, photographer and Rotary Club member, Michael Pohl, took a different approach when he observed a problem in downtown Antioch.  In the process, he established a solution with City staff that has resulted in what some are calling a model for citizen-government partnerships.

Pohl, who owns a full-service portrait photography business in the historic Rivertown District in downtown Antioch, was interested in photographing his clients near his office, where the classic architecture would serve as an ideal backdrop.  The problem he encountered was that the downtown benches were not being regularly maintained.

Pohl, and other members of the downtown business community, approached city staff about the benches and other issues.  “The city simply didn’t have enough resources to accomplish all that we wanted,” said Pohl.  “But, at one of our meetings, Ron Bernal (Antioch’s new City Manager) suggested a citizen response, with staff assistance.”

The idea appealed to Pohl, and he began taking steps to set it in motion.

“I bought the equipment that was needed, and learned from the Public Works Department how the benches needed to be maintained,” he said.  “Now, when I have some free time (it can take up to an hour to clean one of the benches, and almost as long to apply the finishing stain), I prepare a bench and, once everything’s ready, apply the stain necessary to keep them looking good.”

So far, Pohl has cleaned five of the downtown benches, and continues to work on the project that helps beautify the downtown area, and provides him with settings that allow him to do more with his photography business.

“The City has been great to work with,” said Pohl.  “Anything I’ve asked for, they’ve provided.”

Antioch’s Public Works Director, Mike Bechtholdt, is also keen on the relationship.

“We enjoy partnering with people like Michael because he brings passion and genuine enthusiasm to help make our city a better place to live and work,” he said.

To learn more about Michael Pohl and his photography business, go to

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Michael Pohl cleaning benches

3 Comments to “Photographer steps up to enhance Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown”

  1. Just a thought says:

    That is very proactive and dedicated to the city and your business. Kudos!

  2. Wayne Harrison says:

    Three cheers for Michael.

  3. RJb says:

    A monumental task.

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