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Home  |  News  |  SHERIFF’S AWARD

Friday, September 28, 2012

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC - Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts presented the Sheriff’s Award, which is the highest honor that the sheriff can bestow, to Tom Harmalik, Thomas Kleckley, Mary Skenes, William “Bodie” Yarborough and Home Depot during a recognition dinner that was conducted on Thursday, September 27 at Zion Lutheran Church, 226 Corley Mill Road, Lexington.

The recognition dinner was conducted in order to thank all the persons who helped build the Drafts-Skenes Community Garden and Park on Meetze Road near Lexington, Metts said. The community garden and park were built on property that formerly housed an abandoned residence that was used as a location for selling crack cocaine.

During the recognition dinner, Metts also presented the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department Distinguished Community Service Award to Bouknight Pump Service, The New Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church and Zion Lutheran Church in recognition of their work in building the community garden and park. In addition, Metts presented the Sheriff’s Department Community Service Award to 37 persons and businesses that contributed time, money and labor in building the garden and park.

The Sheriff’s Department in partnership with Home Depot, local churches, civic groups, businesses and residents conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 15 for the Drafts-Skenes Community Garden and Park, Metts said. The community garden and park were built on a one-acre property on Meetze Road.

The property owner agreed to allow the abandoned home on Meetze Road to be demolished and agreed to allow volunteers to build the community garden and park on the one-acre property, Metts said.

The construction of the community garden and park is part of a community restoration effort that the Sheriff’s Department, local churches, civic groups and businesses initiated in 2009 on Meetze Road and English Drive, which previously had been hot spots for drug dealing and other criminal activity, Metts said.

“We culminated many years of hard work and collaboration to take this community away from the drug dealers,” Metts said. “All kinds of criminal activity plagued this community not too many years ago, but the good, law-abiding people in this community joined law enforcement and others to clean this community up. It truly has been a transformation.”

Tim Bupp, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, said the construction of the community garden and park marks the beginning of what will be a long-term effort to enhance the quality of life for residents in the Meetze Road and English Drive community.

“This is a testimony to God’s righteousness. We need to tear down barriers and build relationships,” Bupp said. “This is how change really happens. We need to bring God’s element here to this community.”

East Lexington Resident Deputy David Nieves coordinated the participation of the Sheriff’s Department in the community restoration project, Metts said. About 110 volunteers built the community garden and park.

The Sheriff’s Department and Zion Lutheran Church helped local residents create a non-profit organization, which applied for financial aid from Home Depot, Metts said. The non-profit organization received a $5,500 grant from Home Depot, enabling local residents and volunteers from the Sheriff’s Department, Home Depot store in Lexington, local churches and civic groups to build a children’s playground, community garden, picnic tables and privacy fence.

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