Local youth organizes Eco-Park clean up

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

A local seventh-grader, as part of a school project, recently organized and oversaw the detailed clean up of one of Monticello's beautiful, environmentally precious parks.
Known as an “urban forest” the Monticello Ecological Park is located off of Water Street, where it borders the property that makes up the Jefferson County School District's Tiger Lane sports complex.
The park encompasses over 20 acres of old growth forest lands that are filled with hard woods and pines.
The park is home to more than 30 species of birds that are in the birds of prey, game fowl and song birds families.
However, in recent years, the precious wild lands that make up the Monticello Ecological Park had become choked with trash, litter and left over garbage from years of dumping on the park grounds.
The encroaching trash problem was one that bothered one of Jefferson County's younger residents, seventh-grader Louis Dearman.
“Every time I went to the park, it really bugged me due to the amount of litter and large pieces of trash that I saw,” said Dearman.
But it was a school community service project requirement that eventually gave Dearman the idea to create a solution to the ecological park's trash problem.
Dearman, who is a student at Tallahassee's Magnolia School, was tasked to create and document a working community service project before the end of his current school semester.
With the ecological park already a looming concern of his, Dearman and his parents chose to focus on a clean-up session of Monticello's beautiful park.
On Saturday, April 27, armed with gloves, garbage bags, waterproof boots and plenty of bug spray, Dearman and his parents, and the many project volunteers, began the process of cleaning up the park.
Volunteers of all ages, including a large number of youth volunteers and two City of Monticello council members, rolled up their sleeves as they dug trash out from the park's creek, from beneath bushes and fauna, and dug out old metal vehicle frames that had once been dumped on the park's grounds.
Many of the larger waste items were left overs from previous years of local government using the site as a storage or dumping ground.
Due to the proximity of the ecological park to the Tiger Lane sports complex, there was an assortment of food wrappers, bottles, cans and general trash from where citizens had left trash on the sports complex's ground, and rain caused the trash to run into the park.
Before the end of the day, volunteers had managed to remove a 50 gallon drum, three tires, two recycling bins, a full size garbage can, two basketballs and a football, a traffic cone, a portable jump starter, a vehicle gas tank, a motorcycle frame, two feet of disposed corrugated storm water pipe and multiple shoes and boots from the park.
Louis Dearman reported, after the clean up, that the cleaning crew also discovered a promotional cup that advertised the 1988 Olympics Swim Team, half-buried in the park.
Despite the volunteer crew's attempts at digging up several large items from old dump sites located near the back of the park, they were not able to complete the task. However, volunteers were assured by City Councilman George Evans that city crews with heavier equipment and tools would continue the process of excavating the buried items.
Visitors to the park, following the clean up, would have noticed a substantially cleaner, more eco-friendly park that boasted a cleared creek and underbrush that is free from decades of old trash.
Louis Dearman is the son of Gary Louis Dearman and Esther Warrendorf.