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BOARDMAN



Published: Thu, September 19, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The volunteer is hoping someone returns the flag.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- It took the Gillam family hours of painstaking work to clean up and beautify the island at the Market Street, Western Reserve Road and Woodworth Road intersection, but not as long for someone to destroy it.

Edna Gillam, a member of the South Range Ruritan Club, and her family travel past the intersection regularly between their home in Beaver and Boardman townships. The condition of the island was a topic of conversation.

"For years we've driven past here and it would look really bad," said Gillam. "I use to always say to myself, 'When is somebody going to clean that up?' Then God said to me, 'You are somebody.'"

Out came the shovels, about a year ago. A family project had begun.

Gillam said everything from undergarments to dirty diapers were pulled from the weeds. The grass was cut and small decorative bushes were planted in a circle along with red, white and blue tulips.

There was also a group of large engraved stones placed on the island during World War II to honor those fighting overseas. The stones had long been swallowed by the earth, and whatever writing was once on them had been washed away by time.

Unearthed them

Gillam's son and husband used car jacks and crow bars to unearth each of the 300-pound stones. They made a slope and re-laid the stones so they would be visible to passing motorists.

The finishing touch: a 3-foot American flag encased in fiberglass and bolted to the stones.

God Bless America was written across the front of the flag.

Gillam said the family's efforts were well appreciated -- at least she thought so.

"Some people thought we were crazy, but more people would stop and tell us how nice everything looked or just honk and wave," she said. "Nothing is better than having people drive by to see this and smile or say how nice it is."

Now it's gone

A short time ago, Gillam noticed much of it was gone.

Someone had trampled the landscaping, stolen most of the bushes and, most important, had taken the flag.

Gillam would like to redo the island, but her permit through the Ohio Department of Transportation to work on the land has been taken away.

Gillam shakes her head as she looks at what is left of her work.

She really wants her flag to be returned, but her spirit is not broken.

She was, after all, voted 2002 volunteer of the year by the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and says many other areas can use her attention.

jgoodwin@vindy.com




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