Tue, Oct. 15

Clarkdale explores community volunteerism

In years past, living in a small town meant knowing your neighbor and helping them out when needed. Clarkdale is a small town by many standards but it's growing and times have definitely changed.

Clarkdale Vice Mayor Jerry Wiley is one who would like to see some help for those who need it and thinks it could be provided by neighbors, just like it used to be. Wiley brought up the idea of a town volunteer team at the council's July 26 meeting.

"I'm thinking a group of volunteers who could say, 'Hey I could change out a faucet washer' Š That's what I'm talking about. This is a small town," Wiley said.

Council member Tim Wills agreed that there is a need in the community but suggested fostering community pride through more neighborhood block parties.

Town Manager Gayle Mabery sees the need as well. She told council members that the town does have a community volunteer form that residents can use to list their skills.

"So if we have special projects that come up," she said.

Mabery cautioned the council that a municipality would have to be careful in creating any sort of volunteer team that would go into homes or do work for residents.

Mayor Doug Von Gausig said that he was worried about the town's liability for such an operation. He said he would like to see local agencies make it happen.

"I can see some kind of a community organization that's not a part of the town," Von Gausig said.

Pat Williams suggested that a close community could begin with neighborly interaction. Just the act of getting to know who lives next door could be a start, Williams said.

"I think it does have to be more of a neighborhood thing," she said.

Police Chief Pat Haynie told council members that the police department has worked on putting together block watch parties for some neighborhoods, but it all comes down to staffing and money.

Wiley said that something has to be done. The rising cost of living, including soon-to-increase water rates, has Wiley worried about elderly Clarkdale residents and their ability to live on fixed incomes.

He said those that are able could easily complete simple projects around the house for neighbors, saving money for the residents.

"I think we have to get involved," Wiley said. "We have an obligation Š I think it's something that we have to do."

Since community volunteerism was discussed only in work session, council members took no action.

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