The blog for editorial consideration of topics from "a" to "z" to stimulate your further investigation and to draw your comments.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Carol Hieneman Cares: Cleaning Up Messes
Carol Hieneman answered the call. She chose to take it upon
herself to better problems in her neighborhood, thus improving
conditions in her community and her county. By her actions, she
proved her determination to make all our lives in Scioto County a
little brighter. In doing so, Carol taught us lessons in civic duty
What did Carol do that made an immediate improvement to her
neighborhood? Of her own accord, she took on an arduous project of
clearing tree branches, brush and vines that infested a lot on
Armstrong Avenue, an eyesore two doors down from her home.
You see, Carol and her neighbors had witnessed illegal
activity such as prostitution and drug deals on the lot for such a
long time that she finally got fed up and took the matter into her
own hands. The thick vegetation on the lot offered criminals a
perfect shield for a convenient place to commit various crimes. After
two weeks of working 8-10 hour days on the project, she cleared the
debris that had served the criminals so well.
Carol is no stranger to providing human kindness. Josh Richardson,
reporter for the Portsmouth Daily Times, wrote, "The
Portsmouth mother of two grown children — known in the neighborhood
as The Lawn Lady — typically mows the grass for her elderly
neighbors. With such little rain recently she had some time on her
Instead of resting until her neighbors' grass grew tall, Carol
decided to do something else constructive – clear that dangerous,
“When it was all brush, all kinds of illegal activity, you know:
prostitution, drug deals. They’d walk up in here and stuff,”
Hieneman said. “The kids in the alley could see it happening all
the time. People would stop in their cars, get out and do their
transactions. I said, by God, I want to see who’s over there.”
Let me pause here. Carol possesses some rare qualities –
generosity and the brave, determined spirit of activism at the core
of creating improvements to our county. Despite the possibility of
retaliation, Carol did something very personal yet very positive for
all her fellow neighbors. I believe her concern and her personal
actions represent the best solution for bettering life in an area
riddled with criminal activity. Let me repeat what she said so that
the message is very clear:
Carol Hieneman said,
“I want to see who's over there."
So many people "talk the talk" but Carol did more: She
found something she could do to make a difference, and she took it
upon herself to do it. Carol Hieneman cleared the ugliness that had
been suppressing and endangering those in her neighborhood. Even small
children there had been held “captive witnesses” due to their
proximity to the past illicit activity. Who knows how much good her
relatively simple actions may bring?
Braving poison ivy, contaminated trash and vermin, Carol did
the strenuous work herself. She moved the debris and trash to the
driveway of a vacant home that sits next to the lot. That house was
burned earlier this year in a suspected arson.
She admits she didn't know who owned the land, but that is not
because she didn't try to find out. The Times reported:
"...she has tried to contact the city for help, but no one
responded to her emails. She said she wrote an email to the City of
Portsmouth and asked for a dumpster."
Carol said, “They don’t even acknowledge my emails. So I
thought, well, eventually they’re gonna have to demolish this
(house); they can take all this trash with them."
Again let me pause. Did you understand what Carol said?
“Eventually...they (the city)
can take all this trash with time"
This is our civics lesson. No matter the obstacles we face, much
like those that face Carol Hieneman, we can take it upon ourselves to
help rid our neighborhoods of crime and ugly circumstances that
endanger our citizens. If the appropriate officials do not satisfy
our simple requests (in this case, a request that helped to relieve
them of great hazard), we can still do something ourselves to further
the needed improvement. “Eventually” the work will impact even
more improvement, and “eventually” the “trash” will be
Trash. Isn't it fitting that Carol uses this term –
sometimes the right word just flows perfectly when people are on a
mission. “Trash” to Carol is not only the debris she cleared but
also the drug activity and prostitution, all of the harmful elements
in her environment.
Carol hopes the open space not only helps the crime problem, but
also creates an area that may be productive for the city.
Carol Hieneman, you are no longer known as the "Lawn Lady."
From now on, I think you should be addressed as the “True Action
Hero” or, perhaps, “Miss Inspiration.” Imagine another 700 or
800 people in our county of 80,000 population doing something truly
constructive of their own volition with the spirit of improving the
lives of their fellow man.
That, by the way, would be a mere 1% of our folks. In a short
time, the total improvement would be staggering. Clean it up, fix it
up, make it better, work on it – people could search their mind for
their contribution that would make the most meaningful improvement to
them and, just as importantly, to their neighbors.
Instead of sitting back and griping in the face of “who wouldn't
do what” (And don't we hear a boatload of that?), Carol decided to
initiate her own sensible, constructive actions. It's just a pity
some of us didn't know about her project so that we could have helped
her with her commitment. Encouraging teamwork, supplying the engine,
taking personal responsibility, caring for our neighbors, and acting
promptly to reduce threats of future problems – Carol, thanks for
all the lessons. We all owe you a great debt of gratitude.