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With a strong showing by Illinois College students, a large stretch of the Town Brook was picked free of trash in the City of Jacksonville, Illinois 62650 second Town Brook Cleanup. Alderman Lori Large Oldenettel, chair of the Special Studies Town Brook Commmittee, organized the event (blog post) Saturday 26 October 2013.

More photos in Facebook gallery and information on the Town Brook Facebook page.

Everett from Spirit of Faith Soup Kitchen pitching in with cleanup.

Everett from Spirit of Faith Soup Kitchen pitching in with cleanup.

Illinois College students getting to trash.

Illinois College volunteers getting to trash.

Illinois College professor Lawrence Zettler pulls out shopping cart.

Illinois College professor Lawrence Zettler pulls out shopping cart.

Illinois College student climbs steep embankment of the Town Brook.

Illinois College student climbs steep embankment of the Town Brook.

One of the Illinois College works crews.

One of the Illinois College works crews.

Terry from Kiwanis, worker from Hembrough Tree & Lawn Care, and Shawn (Jacksonville Parks Foundation board member) pick up trash collected by volunteers.

Terry from Kiwanis, worker from Hembrough Tree & Lawn Care, and Shawn (Jacksonville Parks Foundation board member) pick up trash collected by volunteers.

Kiwanian Mike Oldenettel hands up tire.

Kiwanian Mike Oldenettel hands up tire.

Dave working on pool of trash, upstream from Foreman Grove.

Dave working on pool of trash, upstream from Foreman Grove.

 

 

 

The first Saturday in May. Name the big event. You likely answered The Kentucky Derby— the Run for the Roses—the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. It is odd that such a renowned event lasts only two minutes. But really it’s not the event itself, is it? It’s the pomp, the show, the hats, the juleps, the parties and all that jazz that make the Derby an event. Otherwise, it would just be a race. A mile-and-a- quarter run to determine who has the fastest (on that day) three year-old thoroughbred. I understand that the pomp and pretense has even made its way to Duncan Park in Jacksonville. My, Oh, My (is that a horse’s name?) Well, dish me up some Hot Brown, finish it off with Derby Pie and call me to the gates.

No, No. This is not an article about the Derby or Kentucky or horses, or bourbon. I’m into bicycling. And the BIG EVENT on the first Saturday in May is the annual Tour de Stooges. For seventeen years, this cycling event has taken place in Southern Illinois, first in Lebanon, now in Highland and has attracted as many as 650 riders in a single day, riders mostly from St. Louis and Southern Illinois, but also from as far away as Hawaii, Washington and Connecticut.

In true “Tour” tradition, the routes available to riders vary in length and difficulty, but they all feature the beauty of the countryside of rural Illinois. Unlike The Tour, it is not a competitive ride—officially, that is. Personal bests are always pursued, and competitions, while not in the program, definitely occur on the road. No horses, no hats, no juleps. But there’s a party— in the event itself, whether one chooses to ride the Joe Besser “Not So Hard” Route – 17 miles, the Curly Howard Shuffle – 22 miles, the Larry Just Fine Route – 30 miles, the Shemp Howard Shortcut – 42 miles or the Moe Howard Metric – 64 miles. The party takes place on the road . . . and after at a catered lunch and “all the slapstick comedy you can stand”—up to 3 hours of Three Stooges films.
First time I rode in the Tour de Stooges, as I passed the primary organizer, Roger Kramer (RIP), who, by the way, passed me later, I shouted to him “calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard.”
In true Roger de Stooges form he responded: “How did you find that patient in room 67?” “Under the bed!” “How did you find that patient in room 73?” “Up on the chandelier.” “What did you do for him?” “Nothing! What’d he ever do for us?”
The point to all this is what? Ride from 17 to 64 miles and have a ball! Riding is an excellent solitary sport, as well as a team sport at times. Cycling is a great fitness activity for all ages. Childhood obesity? Put them on bikes. Seniors who can no longer run and jump? Get on your bikes. But in addition to competition, sports and athletics, bicycling can be an excellent social activity, both during and after the ride. A whole lot of fun.
So here is a Derby Day and Stooges Day call to action in two parts.
First, there is a local citizens group, Town Brook Jacksonville, working to mobilize interest in and support for a new city park, a walk- bike-run trail along Mauvaisterre Creek with pedestrian/cycling connection to Downtown, to Community Park, to Nichols Park and to Lake Jacksonville AND to every merchant and point of interest along the way— and when we all learn to think big enough, even networking with similar trails in Springfield and Quincy and Alton and all the way to St. Louis. What an opportunity for both physical and social fitness! Find out about it and get on board.

Story by Harry Ford. Article published in The Source, week of May 28th 2013 – to reach him email Harry -at- (the at sign) townbrook.com. Harry and Steve Warmowski are initiating plans for an inaugural ride this fall for Jacksonville. Please contact Steve via our Town Brook Initiative Facebook page to find out more and to help. 217.245.4178

Town Brook flows beneath a railroad bridge east of MacMurray College.

Town Brook flows beneath a railroad bridge east of MacMurray College.

Lori Large Oldenettel wrote an overview of the Town Brook project for The Source‘s Earth Day issue. Be sure to pick it up on newsstands this week, and be sure to come to the spring cleanup Saturday April 20th, starting at 8 am at the Diamond Expo Center in Jacksonville, Illinois 62650.

Have you ever wondered about our Town Brook? Did you know the Town Brook starts near Wal-Mart – travels along Morton Avenue – through MacMurray College – and continues around the City of Jacksonville to Sandusky Road and out by Passavant Area Hospital? Did you know the Town Brook is 3.1 miles from Walmart to Foreman’s Grove? Are you aware our colleges use the Town Brook for educational purposes?

Did you know there is a group of individuals working together to better utilize the Town Brook for recreational purposes – to keep it clean – to create more green space – and try to make it more functional for public use? I never knew there was so much to learn about the Town Brook until I really started looking at it and started having conversations with members of the community.

There are so many wonderful stories from families living along the Town Brook, and so many community members who have always hoped the Town Brook could become something more than just a meandering stream. This certainly is not the first time a group of citizens has come together to try and “spruce up” the brook, or try to make it more aesthetically appealing. Conversations have included everything from bicycle trails and walking trails, to outdoor restaurants, fountains, pedestrian bridges, butterfly gardens, beautiful grasses, learning centers, trees, playgrounds, community gardens, gazebos, and most recently, a space for a gambling boat! (I’m pretty sure the person who suggested the gambling boat was joking but nevertheless, it made the list.)

My passion for improving the Town Brook started with my dislike of all the trash lining the banks of the brook. Believing the brook could look much better, conversations were started with the city on what we could do to help improve the look of the brook, and to help improve the quality of life in Jacksonville, which is something adjacent property owners and neighborhoods could enjoy. Those conversations spurred on more conversations that eventually led to the development of a Special Studies Town Brook Improvement Project Committee.

This committee, along with assistance from the Citizens Town Brook Committee led by Steve Warmowski, held our first Fall Town Brook Clean Up last October. Nearly 100 volunteers participated. We filled a 20-yard dumpster in three hours. You can follow at townbrook.com or on Town Brook Facebook to see photos. The success of this event, and local media coverage, caught the eye of a Bloomington, Illinois engineering firm, the Farnsworth Group. The Jacksonville City Council approved $8,100 to complete the first two tasks of a four-task plan to help determine if a recreational path in Jacksonville is plausible. Task 3 and 4 come with a heavier price tag – around $50,000, and the Special Studies Town Brook Improvement Committee is strategizing ways to secure these funds to complete the Engineering Plan. Farnsworth will report their findings from Task 1 and Task 2 to the public on Monday, May 13th at 5:30 p.m. at the Municipal Building and the public is invited to attend.

The second Town Brook Clean Up has been planned to coincide with Earth Day. The Clean Up will be held on Saturday, April 20. Volunteers must be over the age of 18, and all participants are required to sign a waiver to participate. Volunteers will meet in the Diamond Expo Center (Former Midland’s) parking lot located at 803 South Diamond between 8:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Volunteers will be divided into groups and given trash bags, and are encouraged to bring their own gloves, wear long pants, and wear sturdy hard soled shoes. This cleanup is sponsored in-part by a $500 Grant received from the Streambank Cleanup and Lakeshore Enhancement Program (SCALE), Ace Hardware, Buster Sanitation, County Market, Hembrough Tree and Lawn Care, Our Town Books, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Auxiliary, Ryan and Cassandra Turner, and the Morgan County Underwater Search and Rescue Dive Team. The City of Jacksonville Parks and Lakes Department, Jacksonville Police Department and Jacksonville Street Department will also provide assistance.

We would like at least 100 volunteers to participate in the cleanup and feel we are on track to meet that goal. Volunteers have already been organized from MacMurray College, Illinois College, Jacksonville Kiwanis Club, Faith Lutheran Church and the Citizens Town Brook Committee. We can never have too many volunteers for this type of project, so the public is encouraged to participate.

Everyone can do their part to help keep the Town Brook and our community clean by picking up litter. I would encourage everyone to make a conscience effort to collect litter on their next walk, a visit to a park, or a stroll around your neighborhood. I think you would be surprised at how much litter is on the ground when you start picking it up. Start a conversation with kids about the hazards of litter and the importance of keeping planet Earth clean. The more litter we pick up, the less litter blows into the Town Brook or find its way into our storm water drainage systems. Picking up trash is easy and every member of our community can participate. Organize a neighborhood litter cleanup, adopt a park for monthly cleanups, adopt a street and keep it clean.

We can do a small part in keeping our communities looking clean and green! What will you be doing to help planet Earth this week?

Potential bike path, old railroad land north of Town Brook in Jacksonville, Illinois.

Potential bike path, old railroad land north of Town Brook in Jacksonville, Illinois.

Town Brook cleanup fall 2012. Couch near Foreman Grovem confluence of the Town Brook and Mauvaisterre Creek.

Town Brook cleanup fall 2012. Couch near Foreman Grove confluence of the Town Brook and Mauvaisterre Creek.

Details have been announced on the spring cleanup of Town Brook April 20th, Earth Day 2013, Jacksonville Illinois 62650. Please register via our Facebook event page.

Volunteers will be coming together to help clean up the Town Brook. This project is designed as a shoreline clean-up. Litter and debris will be removed from the banks and in shallow water areas. Volunteers MUST be over the age of 18 and all volunteers must sign a waiver form before starting on the clean up project.

Volunteer are asked to:

  • bring work gloves
  • wear comfortable old clothes
  • wear long pants
  • wear sturdy shoes with hard soles
  • wear insect repellant
  • hand sanitizer
  • trash grabbers (if you have one)
  • Hip Wadders or rain boots (if you wish to get in the water)

Registration will begin at 8:00 AM. Opening Remarks at 8:15 AM. Cleanup begins at 8:30 AM. Start Finishing Up at head back to former Midlands Park Lot at 11:00 AM. Cleanup complete by noon.

If you are interested in helping with this project please join this event today or email (on Event page) or call Lori Oldenettel at 2013cleanup@townbrook.com or 217.370.4597. We would like to have a general idea of how many people are planning to attend so accommodations can be made with planning. We are targeting approximately 100-150 people to participate.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

  • Cassandra and Ryan Turner for use of the Diamond Plaza Parking Lot
  • Our Town Books for refreshments
  • City of Jacksonville – Parks Department & Street Department
  • Jacksonville Chamber of Commerece Auxillary – helping with registration
  • Town Brook Citizens Committee

Organized by Lori Large Oldenettel, Alderman Ward 2. Learn more at townbrook.com on Facebook.