Volunteers clean up city, county park
On Earth Day, Eric Petty and Versailles City Council Member Laura Dake were among the dozen or so volunteers who braved brisk temperatures and rain to spruce up Big Spring Park. Saturday morning, before the Woodford County Courthouse clock struck 9, Petty and Dake were cutting down parasitic vines strangling an old tree. "We're trying to improve the park so that it will be safer, it will be prettier," Petty said. The Earth Day project, scheduled for between 8 a.m. and noon, was sponsored by Voices of Versailles, LLC - a Facebook page that organizer Christa Stoudt has been using to round up help for good works in the community. "Christa and I had done a walkthrough yesterday, and realized that there really wasn't a litter problem out here. There's a little bit of litter in the creek, but the real issue is all the vines that are crawling up trees, and there's a lot of honeysuckle out here," Dake said. "The honeysuckle really does choke out the trees and you can hardly see the trees for all the honeysuckle." Dake gave some of the credit for the small amount of litter in the park to community service by inmates of the Woodford County Detention Center. "I think they keep the paths clear and things, but there's just a lot of overgrowth," Dake said. Dake said even people who've lived in Woodford County for a few years have told her they didn't know about the park, which is behind and below the Woodford County Courthouse and Annex. "So what we anticipate eventually is improving signage, so people know it's here - maybe have some kind of marker or something explaining the history of the park. That's in the future, but maybe a few more amenities down here - benches and things like that," Dake said. Big Spring Park, which is on county land, is Woodford County and Versailles, Petty said. Under the nearby pavilion, Stoudt and a few others were taking a quick break from the rain. "As we remove some of the more invasive species like the Japanese Honeysuckle and the holly that's going up the trees, we're finding a lot of litter underneath the trees," Stoudt said. "Currently, we're working on one of the entrances and I'd like to work on the other entrance, because if the park's not inviting, people aren't going to come down here." Stoudt said the weather and competing events like Thunder over Louisville, a triathlon going through downtown Versailles and that evening's Woodford County Prom likely hurt attendance. Versailles Council Member Mike Coleman said he and others filled 20 bags with leaves caught on the walls and dividers between the park and Woodford Courthouse Annex. They also raked the area in front of the pavilion and parking lot, and cleaned the sidewalk leading into the park. The day before, Coleman was one of a half-dozen or so volunteers who took part in Main Street Clean Sweep, which was sponsored by Bluegrass Greensource. Coleman said they picked up about 150 pounds of trash along Douglas Avenue, Broadway, the U.S. 60 Bypass between Woodford County High School and Lexington Road and in Lewis Walton Park.The number of volunteers and trash haul Friday was less than half of last year's, but Coleman attributed the difference to the two days given to the event last year and a later commitment this year from Bluegrass Greensource. Regardless, they left the areas they patrolled in better shape, despite challenges ranging from other events to substandard weather. "Mother Earth said, 'I'm gonna rain on you and see if you show up,'" Petty said with a laugh.