Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Gladewater mayor helps maintain 34-year-old park

By Becky Bell
Nov. 14, 2017 at 12:24 a.m.

Gladewater Mayor Harold Wells spends his morning raking leaves at Everett Park on Thursday November 9, 2017. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

Harold Wells isn't the type of mayor who sits behind a desk and makes decisions.

In fact, he doesn't have an office at Gladewater City Hall. His passion for the city's Everett Park means he spends half of nearly every day at the park, which is about a mile and a half from his home.

Wells, who has served as Gladewater's mayor for five years, said cleaning up the park is something he wanted to do because it's his daily form of exercise and because Gladewater launched a campaign two years ago to get healthier and to clean up the city. Working at Everett Park, for him, does both.

Cleaning it up has also attracted more people to visit Everett Park at 887 N. Lee Drive.

"Since we've been cleaning up the park about 50 people walk each day, jog or ride bicycles," Wells said.

Wells and his wife, Linda, go to Everett Park daily (unless there's bad weather) to enjoy the nature and to exercise. While Wells' wife walks, he has his own routine. Wells has lost 38 pounds working at the park — cutting down tree limbs, sweeping up pine needles, raking leaves.

When Wells first started working on the park two years ago, there was an abundance of overgrown vegetation, he said. Steve Matlock, Gladewater's director of public works, said he began his job in April and it was apparent the park needed some serious attention. Since that time he sends two to four public works employees to tend to the park.

"It's all wooded; there is no grass but there is underbrush, so we send a backhoe in every two weeks and rake up all the pine needles," Matlock said.

The briars and thorns along the park also have to be cleared on a schedule.

"We try to get it from basically a jungle to some place nice. With this type of terrain it doesn't take long to be a jungle again," Matlock said.

Other than Wells, public works employees and the occasional volunteers, Everett Park has no one else to maintain it, and Wells said that is a shame because it is so beautiful.

"It has a running creek and frogs and squirrels," he said. "People can look at the native oaks, pine trees and magnolias."

Everett Park was founded in 1983. It is named after Carl Everett, who is remembered for being an Air Force pilot. The Everetts were an influential family in Gladewater and once had a bank, Wells said. A monument in front of the park lists others who have been integral to the project, including Jack Phillips, president of the park's foundation, and Julie Everett Watson and Samuel Everett, members of the foundation.



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