Police Explorers Help Beautify
Memorial Community Garden
Hazelwood Police Explorers Post #9217 has formed a partnership with Community Action Agency of St. Louis County (CAASTLC), to help maintain the upkeep of a Memorial Community Garden for The Backstoppers at Battery Park.
Members of this Explorers Post will be assisting CAASTLC with efforts to beautify this community garden on a regular basis.
Hazelwood Police Explorers recently gathered at Battery Park to help CAASTLC's community garden coordinator Randy Tempel plant some boxwood shrubs, flowers and other plants around the statues of a police officer and firefighter that sit on either side of a flag pole surrounded by ornate benches. They also met with Tempel to discuss other beautification projects they will be doing this summer.
"Battery Park is a unique community garden in that its purpose is to create a place of solitude where people can go to pay tribute and remember police officers, firefighters and paramedics who lost their lives in the line of duty. It requires more landscaping compared to the other 11 community gardens we maintain in St. Louis County that grow fruits and vegetables using individual plots," said Randy Tempel, CAASTLC community garden coordinator.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on October 29, 2010, to dedicate this Memorial Community Garden at Battery Park, located at 6041 North Lindbergh Boulevard behind Complete Auto Body. Hazelwood and St. Louis County officials, including St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley, were there to join CAASTLC staff members for this special occasion.
The owner of Complete Auto Body, Bob Barks, is the one who came up with the idea to create a memorial honoring fallen first-responders and donated the land behind his business. According to Banks, "In early 2007, I suffered a near-fatal heart attack. It occurred while my wife was driving our car. Luckily there was a police officer in front us. And, a paramedic was behind us. They all helped get me to the hospital in time to save my life."
After this incident, Barks asked himself what he could do to help The Backstoppers organization. Since a police officer and paramedic saved his life, he wanted to do something to show his gratitude. "I decided to create a memorial park behind my business. My future plans include installing a 4'x8' granite wall that lists all the names of our fallen heroes in the St. Louis area," Barks added.
It was Hazelwood Police Chief Carl Wolf who helped broker a partnership between Bob Barks and the CAASTLC to establish a community garden. At the time, CAASTLC had just launched a new community garden program with funding provided by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and given through the St. Louis County government. This non-profit organization set aside nine lots throughout St. Louis County, including the three-quarter acre piece of land used for Battery Park.
"We believe this landscaping project is a great way of connecting these youth and their young minds to the idea of giving something back to their community and adding to the beauty of their neighborhood," said Chief Carl Wolf. "It also gives them an opportunity to reflect on the dedication it takes to choose law enforcement as a career and to honor fellow police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve and protect their community."
Members of Police Explorers Post #9217 are currently going through some intensive training in preparation for the 2012 National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference, scheduled for July 16-21. The event will be held at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.
Thousands of young people, ages 14 to 21, from across the nation, including Puerto Rico and Canada, attend this event which is conducted every two years. They come together for a week of team and individual competitions, seminars, demonstrations, exhibits, recreation and fun.
At the last event in 2010, Hazelwood's Police Explorers competed against 284 other Posts, involving 2,800 participants, and brought home the First-Place Trophy for the "Traffic Stop" team competition. They are going back this year to win more competitions and bring home more trophies.