To counter the actions and territorial trademarks imposed by street gangs,
civic-minded White City Community members united to erase the unsightly stains. On Aug. 31, at 10 a.m. Jackson County Sheriff’s Officers met with partnering agencies at White Mountain Middle School to conduct a community clean-up effort.
The other partners included South Valley Bank and Trust, White Mountain Middle School, and School District#9.
“We do this every year,” said l Phil Ortega, District Student Services Facilitator, who recruits student volunteers for the tasks. “We pick the end of August or beginning of September, just before school starts again. We clean up the community so kids won’t see trash as they walk to classes. Graffiti, glass, knives, all get cleaned up.”
Deputies, and concerned residents, note areas where gang graffiti covers fences, and sections of pavement. Those same haunts often harbor hazards—filthy rubbish, syringes, needles, broken glass, and sharp weapons.
On Wednesday, following the initial briefing, two teams of volunteers, ages 10 through maturity, traveled throughout White City targeting some of the eyesores.
At 29th and Avenue G, 23-year Sheriff’s Department veteran, Deputy David Beatty, directed a team of young males. JCSD seasonal employee, OSU student, Clint Sergi, unwound a 100-foot hose from a Search and Rescue truck. Officers knocked on a local resident’s door, and received permission to hook the hose to the family’s outside faucet. Next, Sergi power-washed the pavement and walls that had been tagged by gang “turf” logos.
Beatty distributed protective gear—hardhats, bright yellow vests, gloves and wire brushes—to four young men from White City schools. That crew consisted of Brian DeLaCruz, Giovanni Santian, Sergio Bencomo, and Arturo Rodriguez. The volunteers said they participated because they wanted to do good for the community.
Their only tangible reward comes at the end of each summer. “If we put in 200 hours,” said Rodriguez,” we get $200 to spend on new clothes or supplies. Phil Ortega takes us to J.C. Penny’s where we can pick out the stuff we want for school.”
On another street, locals noticed adults, including South Valley Bank staff members, picking up trash, and carrying it away in plastic bags.
Beatty expressed appreciation the Sheriff’s Dept. felt for community support in these projects. “We got a call from one student named Brenda who recruited 12 college friends to volunteer, “ he said. “They spent all morning on the White City clean-up project.”
Beatty said he had prepared a special certificate to honor Brenda’s outstanding attitude. “The more the word gets around, the more Brenda’s we’re gonna have helping out with this effort.”
By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent