OSFR was mentioned in the write-up about the Alligator Lake cleanup, even though our organization did not sponsor this one, thanks to Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson who took part in the project. As did Steven Scott, active in the Friends of Rum Island Park regular maintenance and cleanups.
Kudos to Tim Stokes for initiating this project and to those participating.
The original article was in the Jan. 20, 2019 Lake City Reporter, to which no link is provided.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Volunteers take on trash problem at Alligator Lake over weekend
Alligator Lake got a facelift Saturday thanks to a local fisherman whose angry Facebook post turned into a full-blown cleanup in under a week, when he rallied troops to remove trash from the local landmark. By 11 a.m. nearly 100 pounds of solid waste, including plastics and styrofoam, had been dredged from the lake by 20 or so people who devoted the start of their weekend to clean up the largest of the bodies of water that gives Lake City its name.
They came equipped with boats, canoes and kayaks. Armed with buckets and pickers, they got to work around 7 a.m. Lake City resident Tim Stokes’ social media post was the impetus behind the quickly organized cleanup. “I’m tired of seeing all the trash in Alligator Lake … I’m wondering how many volunteers with a boat I could get together on a Saturday and just have a big cleanup of the lake,” Stokes wrote Sunday, January 13.
On Saturday volunteers from across Alachua, Columbia and Suwannee counties responded. For some, like Stokes, this was their first cleanup effort, while others there were seasoned environmental veterans and clean-water advocates with decades of experience cleaning local waterways. Lake City Public Works Department employees Mickle Grisson and Jeff Smedley were stationed at Halpatter Park handing out trash bags and gloves, ready to haul the boatloads of garbage to nearby dumpsters.
At 10 a.m. they said they had taken three hauls of trash at an estimated 50 pounds. Just before 11 a.m., Stokes brought the three bags he had collected back to shore. “My (boat’s) battery is dead so I’m done for now,” said Stokes. “Outstanding,” was how he described the event. “I was hopeful. I kind of thought there would be a lot of people that you know said they would come and didn’t, but it turned out real good.”
He said the impromptu event spawned talks of further meetings to help clean local waterways. Lake City resident Benny Smollack helped troll the shoreline for trash. “It was needed, there was a lot of junk along the trail ways,” said Smollack. For William Laureano, of South Carolina, it was his first time on Alligator Lake and on a kayak. “A friend of mine told me about it,” Laureano said. “I like to help.”
Steven Scott volunteers regularly with Gainesvillebased Current Problems, which works to remove debris from springs, rivers and sinkholes. He said he was impressed the effort came together in only a week. “I think it’s awesome,” Scott said.
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, co-owner of Rum 138, a Fort White-based art gallery that serves as headquarters of Our Santa Fe River Inc., is highly active in clean-water advocacy and cleanup efforts across the region. She was among the first volunteers to arrive Saturday.