Saturday, a group of 30 or so volunteers gave up their day off to go work at cleaning up an historic Lewisville cemetery that has been the target of litterers and illegal dumpers. I wrote about the site here on Wednesday, after touring the site. With help from readers of this blog, and Facebook users, Keep Lewisville Beautiful was able to round up volunteers and local businesses to help.
Frenchy's crew were nothing short of super-human in the speed and intensity of their work, not only mowing and clearing brush outside, but going in and mowing, trimming, and raking the cemetery. They even trimmed up the trees and hauled out logs.
Family members of those buried in the Fox Hembry cemetery showed up to help out, and were visibly moved by the sight of so many volunteers working to clean up the mess.
The City of Lewisville's Parks Department, in cooperation with Keep Lewisville Beautiful, provided a rollaway dumpster which volunteers filled up twice. The city workers showed up mid-day and hauled it off to empty, then brought it back so volunteers could fill it again.
The Lewisville Fire Department supported the effort by sending an ambulance and two paramedics out to stand by just in case any volunteers got hurt. Nobody had any problems, although one volunteer saw a snake come out of one of the tires. While we were so grateful just to have these LFD guys on site, we would have been happy enough for them to just sit in the shade and keep watch. But these guys went above and beyond, picking up shovels and a wheelbarrow and attacking a pile of illegally dumped shingles and tires. That they put in the extra mile on this was not the least bit surprising to those who know the Lewisville Fire Department. Chief Lasky hires good people, and they always deliver above and beyond expectations.
Volunteers scoured the ditches and bushes nearby, tearing through piles of trash and pulling out something like 50 tires, some of which had to be dug out of the ground. An oil drum and a pile of about 150 used car oil filters was found in the field near the cemetery. Several containers of paint and chemicals were found, as well as an old car battery.
Among the other odd things found: - Hypodermic needles - A toilet - A sink - A part of a tombstone that had been removed from the cemetery - An animal skull. (my kids wanted to keep that) - Doors and doorknobs - Numerous pornographic magazines - Used condoms - Carpet - Panties - Piles of tiles
I am extremely grateful to Keep Lewisville Beautiful, the City of Lewisville, Frenchy's, and the super-nice hard-working volunteers, without whom it would have just been me and my family trying to make a dent in this. I can't say enough how touched I am that people came together on such short notice, and rolled up their sleeves and got down in the dirt and worked so hard to make this happen. I was totally convinced that the only way to accomplish this level of cleanup was with heavy equipment like a bulldozer. Good people proved me wrong, and I'm happy about that.
A videographer from WFAA, channel 8 was on-hand to document the cleanup, and he got to speak to the family and myself:
There's still some work to do, such as hauling off the tires to Firestone, who graciously agreed to accept them for recycling, and getting the small amount of hazardous waste disposed of. Then we will have to keep an eye on the place and be vigilant about reporting any further dumping. Some additional cleanup still needs to be done up and down the road, between Mill St. and about 100 yards from the cemetery. And the family has done the work of getting the site registered as a historic landmark, so they need help raising the $1,500 or so needed for a historic marker. If you are interested in making a donation, please contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll put you in touch with them.