Team effort results in clean sweep near Coleman school


Henry Ford would have been proud to witness Friday morning’s flurry of activity behind Coleman Elementary School at 4600 West 13th Avenue here.

“Coming together is a beginning,” the late automotive giant once said in discussing his production plant’s workforce. “Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Jefferson County Judge Dutch King spoke in similar terms while relating Friday’s “clean sweep” along the intersection of West 14th Avenue and Taft Street. The county’s road and sanitation departments and members of the West Side Loop Community Neighborhood Watch Group and other volunteers joined forces in the effort, which included eliminating thick brush from behind the school and clearing debris from yards of neighboring houses and a nearby cemetery.

“This is a prime example of what can happen when people care and get involved in a good cause,” King said, speaking loud enough to be heard above the noise of a county backhoe and other heavy equipment being used in the endeavor.

“This all came about when the West Side Loop Neighborhood Watch Group asked me if we might be able to help in a cleanup here,” the judge continued. “We’re always willing to help, especially when it might help our kids.”

King said the brush behind the school had provided a “hiding place” for those who might have been seeking to victimize a child there.

“Criminals can’t hide back here now,” he added as a backhoe pushed away a stack of leaves, bushes, downed limbs and trash. “This will help to make this playground safer for the kids.”

Josh Burns owns Calvary Cemetery, which is just beyond a treeline outside the school’s rear fence.

“I’m most appreciative to get the city’s and county’s help out here,” Burns said about 10:45 a.m., nearly three hours after the county crews began working at the site. “They’ve already got things looking better. This cleaning will really be good for the school.”

Diane Whitaker, president of the watch group, expressed her appreciation for the assistance the group was receiving in its quest to beautify the neighborhood

“The county and the city have sent people out to help us,” she said. “We just spoke to the judge yesterday and he’s already here working with his employees. And the mayor (Debe Hollingsworth) is more than helpful, always providing avenues to help when we don’t have the resources.

“I would like to thank the mayor and judge and all the city and county workers, and also the men of the West Side Loop Community Watch Group,” Whitaker said. “I’m proud of the great job they’re doing for our neighborhood.”

Marsha Frazier, the watch group’s vice president, echoed Whitaker and added that Alderman Steven Mays “deserves credit for having helped us” throughout his council time.

King said city workers will be aiding at the site today.

“I feel good about what’s happening here,” King said as he removed a cap to wipe away some sweat from his forehead. “This is what you can expect when people work together. That’s how you get things done.”