This cleanliness is next to godliness

By Steve Powell

Herald Writer

EVERETT — By day, it’s an area of mostly well-kept office buildings.

But by night, when workers aren’t around, it can get pretty seedy.

Neighbors, area businesses, a local church and a missionary group from Ohio hope a cleanup of overgrown vacant lots at 33rd and 34th streets and Colby Avenue will keep the area nice at night, too.

During the work this week, one neighbor walked by and gave the group $50, even though it wasn’t soliciting donations. Another said she has changed her mind now and won’t move after all.

Visiting Pastor Bob Cowman of Calvary Baptist Church of Norwalk, Ohio, said the group of about two dozen people found drug needles and evidence that two homeless people had been living among the out-of-control blackberry bushes and other vegetation.

Brian Deatherage, 16, of Everett said he and the rest of his family of five are helping out because they are tired of drug activity going on right across from their church, Calvary Baptist of Everett.

"Frankly, I’m tired of these things happening in the neighborhood," he said, adding that one neighbor has to call police a couple of times a week to try to keep drug dealers out of the area.

Pastor Jim Brown of Calvary Baptist said his office looks out on one of the lots.

"I see people going back and forth all the time," he said. "We see drug activity, and people hiding stolen goods in the bushes."

Ralph Seward, who is with the mission group from Ohio, said during the morning the group is running a vacation Bible school at Calvary to try to get kids to attend the church, which has mostly older members.

But in the afternoon, the Bible crew puts on work clothes, grabs shovels, pitchforks and chain saws, and gets down to work tidying up the two lots.

Seward has been inspired by the number of neighbors who have thanked them for their work.

"It makes everybody feel a little bit better about themselves," he said.

He also has other inspiration.

"With the Lord I serve, we all help one another," Seward said.

Deatherage said the group could use even more help.

"Neighbors walk by and say we’re doing a good job, but I wish they’d come in and help. Even with 22 people, it’s still a hard job."

Brown said he hopes more people will get involved in their neighborhoods.

"All it takes is leadership, manpower and a desire to see the community cleaned up," Brown said.

Lt. Greg Lineberry of the Everett Police Department said law enforcement appreciates this type of help from the community. By cutting the brush away, criminals no longer have a place to hide.

"Our best crime-fighting tool is an involved community," he said. "It helps us be more effective in keeping an eye on things.

"It helps to make the criminal as uncomfortable as possible."

You can call Herald Writer Steve Powell at 425-339-3427

or send e-mail to powell@heraldnet.com.

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