Itís all about teamwork and good neighbors who care. Lanark Village is working towards improving the neighborhood and is making lots of headway.

Our scheduled clean up was rained out in March but we rallied again this past Saturday with perfect weather. In just three hours, many pick-up trucks, gloved hands and determined people removed a bunch more eyesores from our alley ways.

We all know how difficult it can be controlling garbage piles on private properties in Franklin County. We are fortunate to have the inmates from the prison as crew for keeping public areas clean but they cannot go on private property. Itís legal for residents to drag unwanted debris, not household garbage, to the street curb and wait for county pick up. For years, in our highly concentrated neighborhood of row houses, there were constant mountainous piles in front of the end units, awaiting the earth-gouging boom truck for days or weeks when put out way earlier than the scheduled pick-up. The county has been for the most part very reliable about coming when they say but when people want something large out of their small house, they arenít going to wait until closer to pick- up day. Thereís always a wait since the county has only two garbage trucks and itís a long way from Apalachicola to Alligator Point.

Want to know how do we do it? The county mails out our Clean-Up Day announcement to all homeowners in the village and we get the word out via postings at the community center. We let folks know this is a chance to get help with heavy stuff, no fines, no fees, no questions asked. Let's just do it.

In advance of the clean-up day, we wander the neighborhood alleys and streets and knock on doors where old couches, broken washing machines, busted kiddy pools breeding mosquitoes etc. have been rotting away. We get phone numbers, when possible, of folks who are owners but not residents, to ask permission to remove stuff that is obviously just an unwanted burden that they may not have the time or energy to deal with. Most are happy to get the help. We are always respectful of private property and of a personís freedom to hoard if they want to!

In the past, our neighborhood of trash heaps became an invitation for folks - even from other counties as evidence revealed - to dump stuff on Lanark streets. We were looking like a real slum, with piles of mattresses etc. tossed out by landlords and remodeling debris piled on top of them.

Franklin County appreciated our grassroots effort to clean up the neighborhood, and upon our request, brought us a large item dumpster that was placed by our recycling bins. We all do our best to police it so no one puts food garbage or diapers in it. It's not easy. We are now getting some much-needed code enforcement help via the sheriffís department. A habitual garbage tossing offender was recently observed by a neighborhood resident and with evidence in hand, the deputy was able to give a stern warning and a promise of a large fine if caught again. Most residents are now in a habit of taking even yard debris down to Oak Street and we have volunteers with trucks willing to help move heavy stuff. No more garbage piles! It takes a village!

So with number two clean-up under our belt, itís officially an annual happening here in our special district of Lanark Village. If you are tired of your neighborhood being trashy looking, itís not hard to do. Just get over the ďthis ainít my messĒ head space and work like a team.

Doing it just once a year doesnít make it feel like you are constantly giving sloppy neighbors a free ride. Neighborhood clean-ups usually inspire folks to pitch in and tidy up. We also got help from the county for some cheery signs with good messages about keeping our homes and yards clean.

Special thanks this year to Jackie and Eric Cichy, Jim OíConnor, Captain Dick and Butterball, Rachael and Clyde, Corey Quaas, Christine Hartness, Janie and Bob Shaffer, Marlene Moore, Jim Chichester, Nick Dadonna and even more volunteers who were handing out gloves and bags, zipping around the Ďhood in trucks, and being the kind of neighbors I am proud to have. Thanks to all.

Our next neighborhood project is a community garden, mural, and beautification of Gene Sewell Park and the Betty Roberts Pavilion. We are in need of donations of lumber for our garden beds. If you can help us please email me at And mention garden lumber as subject.