Keeping it clean: Volunteers beautify J.L. King for Adopt-A-Park

The Oktibbeha County NAACP and Starkville In Motion partnered to see J.L. King Senior Memorial Park cleaned up. Pictured, (from left) Dwight Burchfield, Mike Haddix, Yulanda Haddix, Chris Ayers, Wren Ayers, Chris Taylor, Willie Earl Thomas, Sr. (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)

Volunteers from the Oktibbeha County NAACP braved the chilly weather on Sunday afternoon to make sure one of the city’s cherished parks was free of litter.

The effort at J.L. King Senior Memorial Park was part of Adopt-A-Part, organized by Starkville In Motion, with the goal of maintaining and improving the quality of Starkville’s parks.

“We just want people to take part in their community,” said Starkville In Motion treasurer Chris Ayers.

Oktibbeha County NAACP President Chris Taylor pointed to new playground equipment at the park and stressed the importance of having a clean environment that the community is invested in.

“We adopted this park, so Monday we will come through and see what is broke, and will police it, make notes of what is broken and turn it in to the parks and rec, along with Starkville In Motion,” Taylor said.

Interim Parks and Recreation Director Gerry Logan praised the effort, saying the department is excited to have local groups who care enough about these public spaces to give back.

“Today’s efforts by the local NAACP and Starkville In Motion are very appreciated,” Logan said. “We look forward to supporting other similar volunteer initiatives in the future.”

Yulanda Haddix was among the volunteers at J.L. King on Sunday and said most of the people involved in the cleanup effort grew up in the community and have valued the park for decades.

“I remember when there was a swimming pool here and we hope to bring it back to life and let the community be part of it,” Haddix said.

Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill has been an active supporter of the city’s parks and said the effort was a strong indicator of the commitment of community members to share in the responsibility of making Starkville the best it can be.

“Citizen engagement is critical to our future and it is inspirational,” Spruill said. “I am so proud of those who took their time to give back. I love forward to so much more of this participation. It’s what makes us neighbors.”

The Oktibbeha County NAACP also urges more community involvement through the organization.

“I think the NAACP is a national organization that needs to be recognized,” said Mike Haddix. “It needs to be more prominent in our communities, and we need to reach out to the communities to be a part of it. So we implore them to join the NAACP and be a part of the community and to work hard to better our organization.”