Ten weeks ago Bunnell twins and natives Tiyona and Tyona Ash, 21, organized Bunnell’s first volunteer clean-up, in partnership with the Flagler County Housing Authority, an event they called “Secure Our World.” The idea caught on. On Saturday, the Bunnell Police Department is organizing a major event it’s calling “We Love Bunnell” Clean-Up Day.
“We’ve asked volunteers from all over Bunnell, not just the south end of Bunnell, to come and join us in helping lift up these good guys that live down there and getting them out and about and helping them get their community cleaned up and showing them that we love Bunnell,” Police Chief Dave Brannon said, “and we support them and want to do all we can to keep all of Bunnell sas safe as possible.”
The idea emerged after two murders and a drive-by shooting between January and May. The city’s police officers discussed various community outreach projects with Brannon. This was one of the initiatives, presented by Bunnell Public Safety Officer Rommel Scalf who’d carried out a similar project when he was an officer at the Holly Hill Police Department.
“The idea is to ask residents to voluntarily allow the police and other concerned citizens to help them clean up their neighborhoods and begin restoring pride and building police-community trust,” Scalf said. “No one will be required to participate. We’re asking for help from the City of Bunnell, area churches and civic organizations, local businesses, and interested citizens to join the effort.”
Several organizations are participating, among them the NAACP Flagler branch. “We will be more than happy to attend,” Tiyona Ash said on Friday.
“We’re going around door to door offering to help folks out if they need something cleaned up in their yard, maybe a vehicle that’s dilapidated that needs to be removed,” Brannon said as he described the event on WNZF’s Free For All Fridays. “Some old appliances or furniture: we’ll help them get that out to the side of the road, and then the city of Bunnell solid waste department is going to come by later and collect all that that we’ve put on the side of the roads.”
It’s also a way to address what would theoretically–and not so theoretically–be code enforcement violations, but in a more constructive, non-confrontational, non-penalty way. Brannon isn’t interested in writing tickets, but in building a sense of community and cohesion. “I want to do something positive to help people resolve these issues. Working together, all of us can make a difference,” Brannon said.
It all starts before 8 a.m. Saturday at the Carver Gym, 206 E. Drain Street in Bunnell. Teams led by a police officer will be formed and directions given. The event will run until Noon, to avoid the harsher heat of the day. Volunteers are asked to dress comfortably, wear closed-toe shoes, and to bring a pair of gardening gloves, rakes, shovels, and wheelbarrows. Refreshments will be provided.
“If there’s any one thing that we are still lacking is, we’d love to have a tree crew or some kind of tree company here in Flagler County somewhere that would help us out,” Brannon said this morning. “There’s folks that have overgrown trees that are blocking streetlights. Those types of situations encourage crime and so it’s another one of our goals to try to knock that down and restore better street lighting to the communities.”
If you want to help, call 386-437-7508 or email [email protected].