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The Helena Arkansas Daily World - Helena, AR
  • Massive clean-up underway in the city

  • In the one week since the last regularly scheduled city council meeting, the community has experienced a renaissance of sorts. With the near completion of Civil War sites in Helena, visitors to the community are greeted with a fresh outlook on one of the oldest cities in the state. In just one week, citizens have put their differences aside and have begun the largest community-based project in recent history.
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  • In the one week since the last regularly scheduled city council meeting, the community has experienced a renaissance of sorts. With the near completion of Civil War sites in Helena, visitors to the community are greeted with a fresh outlook on one of the oldest cities in the state. In just one week, citizens have put their differences aside and have begun the largest community-based project in recent history.
    Community leaders have stepped up to the challenge to create an environment to create a stigma on dead-beat property owners that have been negligent in caring for their lawns and dilapidated homes and businesses. For many months, these abandoned properties have been left unchecked by the city and the community, but following last week's city council meeting, citizens expressed their frustration at a broken city's infrastructure and demanded action.
    One of the main organizers of the beautification programs is James Riley and his Every Citizen On Patrol (ECOP) program. An outpouring of community support created an environment for the city to take actionable measures to put landowners on alert to maintain their properties. The H-WH code enforcer has had much difficulty in locating many of the out-of-town property owners, a job that is overwhelming for just one city employee to take on by herself.
    With the help of legal measures being discussed with the district court and other city officials, citizens are now being given official notices to clean their property by a certain time frame or they will be fined. Even the State of Arkansas had tractors lined up on the shoulder of the bypass a few days earlier to maintain the overgrown and embarrassing out-of-control grass on Highway 49.
    Other beautification efforts include the restoration/replacement of bleachers at Central High School and a major clean up along the creek boundary of Cad Polk Stadium. Businesses are taking the clean up serious and have cut crass that has long been overdue. City employees have stepped up their efforts in maintaining city property, and citizens are helping their neighbors cut their lawns.
    A new community-driven initiative, the E-COP City Improvement Group, is an organization "set up for the overall beautification of the city, allowing all interested parties to participate using areas of their own expertise," said Riley. "It is not just about mowing the grass anymore."
    Riley noted that participation in the new program can include "anything from picking up trash to teaching a clerk how to treat a customer, courteously helping visitors find their way, and numerous other ways to make our city appealing to visitors as well as hometown folks." Riley concluded, "By the way, have you tried a smile lately?"
    The overall community-driven initiatives to clean up the city and make Helena-West Helena the best it can be will give us all something to smile about. The Helena World will highlight anyone and any business that steps up to the plate to make the community a cleaner and safer place to live. Send your clean-up photos to rkelley@helena-arkansas.com

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