By Genine Hopkins
Demonstrating their commitment to county health, Clare-Gladwin Together We Can Health Improvement Committee members spent their August meeting time cleaning debris and weeds from the Old 127 Roadside Park. The group was seeking to make the park more appealing for citizens wishing to use the park for outdoor activities, promoting exercise in existing park areas. The clean up took place on Thursday, August 21, 2013, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
The idea was discussed at previous HIP meetings over the summer, and members felt it was a great way to get out in the fresh air, promote Clare County Parks and beautify the former rest stop for citizens. Sarah Kile, the Clare-Gladwin’s facilitator for the Central Michigan District Health Department, contacted Clare County Parks & Recreation Director Don Kolander and the arrangements were made.
Assisting the group in the clean up was Kolander, Kyle Walvraven – who also donated two large loads of decorative bark to prevent weed growth in garden areas – and family members of the HIP group. Arriving at 10 a.m., the group took to their task, grateful for the cooler temperatures and hoping that the skies that threatened rain would hold off until they were done.
HIP members were able to energize as they began thanks to Cops & Doughnuts managing owner Greg Rynearson, who was passing by and noticed their hard work. He rushed back to the store, returning with sugar glazed goodies to provide the volunteers a pick me up, allowing them to work on fuller tummies.
“I was amazed when Greg arrived with two huge boxes of doughnuts!” stated Kolander, “He and all the owners at Cops & Doughnuts are very generous and his gift was greatly appreciated.”
Kolander was also pleased with the generous donation of decorative bark to refresh the garden areas and prevent weed growth. Walraven, on the road bringing two dump trucks of the bark to the site, also helped weed and fill the garden beds.
“It is wonderful that this idea, something that the Parks & Recreation Department doesn’t have enough funding to perform over the year, really took off, involving community business owners and agency workers. We had volunteers from the Clare-Gladwin RESD – members even brought their kids! – from MidMichigan Health in Clare and Gladwin, the health department and it grew exponentially! We plan to put park clean up on the agenda for next year both in the late spring and late summer to continue this movement of access to exercise and healthy citizens!”
The Rewiew’s own reporter, yours truly, also participated, and was lucky enough to miss out on Kile’s discovery of a small bee nest. Kile is okay, but next year there will be a memo to bring epipens if anyone has an allergy to insect bites.
Craig and Saban, the two youngest volunteers, had loads of fun, discovering some rather large spiders, several frogs and some field mice. Boys will be boys, and their discovery brought much amazement and a request – that was denied by mom – to bring the critters home!
Friends of Clare County Parks & Recreation provided the volunteers a BBQ lunch after the work was completed, something that was greatly appreciated since most of the volunteers worked through their lunch hour and had to return to work after the clean up.
“We are always seeking volunteers,” said Kolander, “Our budget has been continually cut due to diminishing state revenue shares, so we don’t have the manpower to pay for such clean ups. This group has worked the hardest of any I’ve seen; we were able to spruce up this historical park in the limited amount of time they had and we are grateful to all the donations today!”