Community rallies for neighborhood cleanup

OKEECHOBEE — Members of the Okeechobee community came together to help clean the neighborhood of Douglas Park on July 25.
Tamisha McQueen helped organize the event and says it was an overwhelming success.

Volunteers walked along sidewalks and ditches in Douglas Park with trash bags picking up debris, limbs and other waste items.

Preston Wiggins had a similar neighborhood cleanup event that he organized two years ago. Tamisha brought him on board for this year’s event as well.

At the July 9 Board of County Commissioners meeting, Tamisha described the neighborhood cleanup project to commissioners and asked for their help.

“I hope you can come in solidarity wvith us and get some work done,” she said.

“I think it is absolutely wonderful,” said Commissioner Kelly Owens.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Tina Ramos
Okeechobee County Commissioner David Hazellief carries a load of limbs and debris.

“I hope this will set an example for numerous neighborhoods that could use some cleanup.” Commissioner Brad Goodbread volunteered to bring a loader, a semi and a dump trailer.

“I reached out to the community commissioners and they were very receptive and welcoming of the idea,” said Tamisha. “They came out and did a great job.”

County commission candidate Demetre Riles shared information about the cleanup event on social media and his travel basketball program, Chobee Nation, helped provide a BBQ lunch for volunteers.

“We had close to 70 people out that day,” explained Tamisha. “Waste Management and the Okeechobee Sheriff’s Office were there. It was such a great turnout. We had our neighbors coming out in solidarity cleaning. We had some young men who cut grass in the community bring their lawnmowers out. It was a beautiful thing.”

Brahman football coach Ty Smith was involved with the event as well and was on hand to help clean. Bernard Marker and the Okeechobee Special Olympics set up a table with cold water bottles for volunteers working on the hot and muggy Saturday morning.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Jack Washington
From left to right at the cleanup are Ty Smith, Demetre Riles and Tamisha McQueen.

“I think this was probably the biggest turnout we have ever had on a community project cleanup,” said Tamisha.

With the success of the event, the organizers want to keep the positive momentum rolling and hope to have another neighborhood cleanup soon. Tamisha says that Ty Smith has suggested the group focus on the Deberry Garden neighborhood next.

“There were so many to personally thank,” said Tamisha on social media after the cleanup. “I don’t want to leave anyone out, so I will try to be as general as possible. To each of you that came out, cleaned, cooked, served, brought machinery, and donated — you rock!”

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