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Mark Adams stood in front of the only house he’s ever lived in and watched an army of people attack it with hammers, crowbars, shovels and a chainsaw.
But like surgeons, the workers were removing decaying parts in attempt to improve the home at 1512 Lawton Ave. The porch’s roof had been rotting and falling apart, and its concrete steps had been crumbling.
Firefighters from Columbus Township Fire and Rescue and Cummins Inc. employees carefully pried away and saved the original porch gutter of the home built in 1910. Afterward, Capt. Curtis Burton lay prone at the end of the extended firetruck ladder and sawed off chunks of the roof.
Adams’ home was one of 36 properties in the 11th and Washington streets area that were targets of a neighborhood cleanup Friday. More than 100 volunteers from Columbus Township, Cummins, the city of Columbus and the neighborhood itself pitched in to spruce up homes and alleys by picking up trash and debris, clearing overgrown vegetation, demolishing unsafe sheds and garages and trimming trees and bushes.
The cleanup is part of an initiative by Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown to address problems in certain areas of the city.
Neighborhood meetings in August and September for the 11th and Washington streets area addressed crime, deteriorating properties, street lights and litter. The area has produced the second-most calls
to police about crime and suspicious activity, police said previously.
Neighborhood meetings and a cleanup were previously conducted during the summer for the Ninth Street Park area.
“We are engaged with these neighborhoods,” said Carl Malysz, the city’s community development director, about using the city’s resources.
Bill Klakamp, Bartholomew County zoning compliance officer, said he’s working with the nonprofit Housing Partnerships Inc. to fix the roof and heating in Adams’ home.
The help was welcomed, the 65-year-old Adams said, because his finances are tight, and the house means a lot to him.
His grandmother bought it in 1937, his parents inherited the home and then Adams inherited the home when his parents died. Except for a four-year stint in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, he’s always lived in the house.
“This is my homestead,” he said.
Since he retired from the military in 2008, Adams has been living on his military pension until Social Security kicks in.
“By the time I pay utilities, other bills and food, I’m pretty much done for,” Adams said.
Friday’s cleanup covered an area from roughly Eighth to 15th streets and Washington to Lafayette streets.
Abby Wilson was part of a seven-member Cummins group walking along Franklin Street picking up trash. She said Cummins encourages community service, and Friday’s neighborhood cleanup was special to people who have lived their entire lives in Columbus, as she has.
About 15 Cummins employees demolished a carport and lean-to at 1403 Franklin St. Arthur Ausby said he enjoys efforts to help the community and its residents.
“You can come home and have a good night’s sleep and feel good about it,” he said.
Across the street, at 1404 Franklin St., Yvonne Cook was one of three neighborhood residents who were cutting and clearing overgrown vegetation from the house and a backyard shed. They learned about the cleanup by attending a neighborhood meeting.
“We want to improve the community,” said Cook, who lives on Lafayette Street.
Dennis and Rebecca Cowell, who rent the home, said they appreciated the help.
“It’s stupendous,” Rebecca Cowell said.
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