Residents help clean up Rocky Hollow neighborhood
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
Apr 07, 2013 | 6334 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anniston Mayor Vaughn Stewart volunteered alongside Rocky Hollow residents during a neighborhood cleanup Saturday. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
Anniston Mayor Vaughn Stewart volunteered alongside Rocky Hollow residents during a neighborhood cleanup Saturday. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
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Nellie Siders was dressed for the occasion: bright red T-shirt, neon reflective vest, plastic gloves and an orange claw-grip trash picker on loan from the city of Anniston.

An 18-year resident of Thomas Avenue, Siders was one of a dozen residents of the Rocky Hollow neighborhood walking the streets on Saturday to clean the trash from yards and gutters.

“The last couple of years, people have lost concern for this community,” she said, “so we’ve got to restore that.”

The cleanup is part of a continued effort that began last fall by residents of Rocky Hollow and surrounding streets who wanted to stem what they saw as the declining quality of life in the neighborhood.

“We were tired of just every weekend, calling the police and living in a place filled with trash and crime and feeling like the city really didn’t give a crap,” said Gina Armstrong, a resident of Woodland Avenue.

But since a community meeting in August and an October cleanup day that consisted of a great deal of lawn work in addition to trash collection, she said, city officials have been available, helpful and responsive to the residents’ ideas and concerns.

“If it’s crazy ideas, they’ll tell us it’s crazy,” she said, “but they’ll look at what could be done.”

The residents have since formed a loosely organized neighborhood association, which Jennifer Maddox has agreed to lead.

She said volunteers on Saturday were cleaning Rocky Hollow Road and Woodland Avenue and the streets that connect to them.

Through the effort, she said, volunteers “hope to gain visibility, to let the neighbors know there are people who care, and they’re not alone.”

Even more, Maddox said, neighbors are being shown “they can participate in helping return this neighborhood to its former glory.”

Members of the cleanup crew passed out fliers announcing a citywide cleanup day on April 27, along with a pamphlet from Anniston’s Code Enforcement Department listing code violations and containing information for reporting a violation.

Events like Saturday’s cleanup demonstrate, said Rocky Hollow resident Steve Box, “that there are people who care about this neighborhood, and it sends a signal that we are concerned and we are trying to do our part in the community.”

Box said he was disgusted by some of the things he picked up along the streets, particularly a number of used condoms in addition to the fast food wrappers and beer bottles.

He said a reported assault last week on Rocky Hollow Road was quite disconcerting for residents because they thought they had been making progress with the amount of crime in the neighborhood.

“When we heard about an assault, that really bothered us,” he said. “It’s not intimidating, it’s angering, and it solidifies the resolve to change it.”

And that’s what Saturday’s cleanup was about, he said: demonstrating that there is a problem but also a solution.

“You can be part of the process and try to fight it, or you can be part of the problem,” he said. “We’d like all of our neighbors to be part of the process and not part of the problem.”

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

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