By Jeff Harrison
Saturday morning was about neighbors helping neighbors.
More than 60 people helped clean up tree limbs and debris from residents yards following the recent storms.
There are two parts to the cleanup program. On Saturday, volunteers worked to get the trees and tree limbs to the curb. On Sept. 28, they will return to pick up the debris and take to the city’s compost facility.
The effort was the first for the newly formed Mayor’s Community Partners program. Mayor Matt Dukes recently created the group of faith-based organizations, civic groups and individuals to provide assistance to residents who are disabled, elderly and low income. Following the storms, Dukes decided to put the group to action.
“We kind of got egg on our face for not going curb to curb to pick up debris and this was a good chance to exercise the volunteer group and turn a negative into a positive,” Dukes said.
A total of 64 volunteers met at the community center for breakfast before heading out to various homes around the city. The group cleaned up 21 homes. After the morning cleanup, they returned to the community center for lunch.
“This was a godsend,” said Dukes. “I was sweating it last night. I was worried if no one shows up then I was in for a long day.”
Dukes teamed up with several airmen from Tinker Air Force Base. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jervaughn Sanders, who recently moved to Oklahoma, was one of the volunteers.
“One of our maintenance superintendents saw the idea and we figured it was a good opportunity to make sure the community is taken care of,” he said. “I just moved here and thought it was a good way get out in the community and get my feet wet.”
Dukes said he will utilize the volunteer group again in the future as needs arise.
“This will be an ongoing event,” he said. “We’ll reach out to people that signed up and go out and take care of people.”
Residents who have trees and tree limb debris but don’t fall into one of the categories for assistance, can call to schedule a special pick up for a rate of $55. Residents who want to schedule the pickup can contact Public Works at 739-1066. Tree limbs and other brush can be taken to the City’s Compost facility for free for the extended hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.
Code Enforcement will not issue violations for trees and tree limbs throughout the month of September to give residents the opportunity to clear and dispose of storm-related debris. The moratorium on Code violations will include downed fences as well as tree debris at the curb.