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Operation Cleburne Pride - Neighborhood 1
05/01/2014 - By Matt Smith/msmith@trcle.com - Cleburne Times Review
City officials encourage residents and volunteer groups to take part in Operation Cleburne Pride, which kicks off at 8 a.m. Saturday in the First Baptist Church parking lot at the intersection of North Anglin and Brown streets.

“The city is taking a proactive approach to help residents whose property needs some help and who, in many cases, can’t do it themselves,” Cleburne Fire Chief Clint Ishmael said. “Anybody who wants to come out and help us clean our city up is welcome and we’re hoping to see a lot of people Saturday morning.”

Ishmael likened the program to code enforcement with a twist whereby the city focuses more on outreach than enforcement.

“It’s something different,” Ishmael said. “A new way of addressing cleaning up the city by working in partnership with city workers, citizens, businesses, churches, civic groups and volunteers. Asking, ‘What can we do as a community if we partner with non profits and other groups with the city functioning as a coordinating hub?’

“It’s not so much enforcement — fix it or ticket — but more looking at the causes of problems, which range from simple neglect to social issues.”

Saturday marks the first of several upcoming Operation Cleburne Pride projects.

City officials divided the city into six sections to better identify and tackle community needs. Neighborhood 1, Saturday’s project, includes neighborhoods within North Anglin, Wilhite and Robinson streets between East Henderson and East Kilpatrick streets.

Volunteer efforts from the community and outside groups and individuals following the May 15 tornadoes supplied the genesis for Operation Cleburne Pride. Partnerships between the city, residents and other groups developed organically in the aftermath of the storm and led to a quick and efficient clean up effort, city officials said.

To that end, the city will supply workers and trash bins and help coordinate the project, but is calling on residents and other volunteers to join in.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring trucks, mowers, weed eaters, gloves, trailers, saws and chain saws if they have them. Or, just themselves.

“We have plenty that needs to be done and need all the help we can get,” Ishmael said. “Show up and we’ll get you on a team helping out.”

Operation Cleburne Pride volunteers last month canvassed the area of Neighborhood 1 visiting with residents to learn their concerns and needs.

“We were surprised by all the open doors we faced and the positive feedback from residents,” Cleburne native Landon Ledlow said. “We literally couldn’t get off peoples’ porches as far as them wanting to talk to us.”

Needs identified include simple to major repairs, tree trimming, mowing and debris removal among other things.

“We spent hundreds of hours walking the neighborhood talking to people and identifying needs,” Ishmael said. “It will be impossible to muster all of this in one day, of course. But we’ll get a good start on it. Some of the projects, houses that need painting and the larger repairs, we’re working to get with some of our other groups and volunteers to tackle as individual projects. We have a tree trimming company that’s volunteered to do some of the higher up work, for instance. But then, instead of them cutting up the branches and hauling them away, we’re going to use volunteers to do that so the tree trimmers can get to more areas.”

Prep work is already underway. Cleburne sanitation and street maintenance employees began trimming trees and removing debris on Monday.

Six condemned homes in Neighborhood 1 have been demolished.

“I’ve talked to residents in the neighborhood who thanked us for doing that,” Ledlow said. “They said kids played in those old houses and they were dangerous.”

Some of the more involved needs identified have been referred to Christmas In Action and other area groups to help tackle, Cleburne Health Official Teresa Richardson said.

“We’re looking for volunteers to step up,” Richardson said. “The goal is to keep this an ongoing project, not just something we do once or twice then it gets forgotten. It’s a great way to give back to Cleburne and to get out and meet your neighbors and for city leaders and residents to get to know one another better. So we’re certainly encouraging citizens to come out and organizations and businesses to get their people out.”

Ledlow agreed, pointing out that businesses can be neighbors too.

“The cool thing is, we’ve already seen drastic improvements in the neighborhoods since we did the walk through,” Ledlow said. “People are already getting out and cleaning up yards and helping their neighbors. I thought some of our walk through volunteers must be goofy because about 25 percent of homes identified for trash and debris had already been cleaned up when we went by and looked at them the other day. A lot of that was done by tenants renting homes.”

Richardson jumped in at that point to say that property owners have also been notified and are encouraged to spend Saturday working with their tenants to spruce up their properties.

Much remains to be done, however, and everyone who can help is encouraged to do so, officials said, adding that H-E-B Grocery will be serving a free hot dog lunch to all volunteers.

Cleburne Assistant City Manager David Esquivel said he and other city officials hope Saturday’s event seeds the beginnings of long time partnerships between officials, the community and other groups.

Waste drop off

The city will place trash bins in the parking lots of First Baptist Church, North Cleburne Baptist Church and the old hospital, Richardson said. They will also circulate a trash bin throughout the Neighborhood 1 area during the day on Saturday.

Residents wishing to get an early start on cleaning their properties may use the trash bins, Richardson said, They may not, however, be used for paint, chemicals or tires.

Paint, chemicals and other items can be discarded during the May 10 Household Hazardous Waste event. Residents wishing to discard tires on Saturday will be given vouchers allowing them to drop them at the Cleburne Transfer Station free of charge provided they show proof of residency.

Plans call for tackling the next five neighborhoods in the near future.

“Just like we did with Neighborhood 1, we’ll do a walk through of those neighborhoods to meet with residents and identify needs,” Richardson said. “I’m sure we’ll use what we learn from this first project to fine tune and make adjustments once we figure out what works best.”
On the web: CleburneTimesReview.com

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