Cleanup is loving the lake
By PEGGY BULLARD/ Community Columnist
The lake cleanup was different this year without Alabama Power’s participation.
Due to pandemic regulations still in place for the company, they could not come and bring their barges to head up the cleanup on May 1. Home Owners Boat Owners association took to the task and cleanup was a success thanks to the many dedicated lake people who showed up. They came with their work clothes on and ready for a few hours of hard work even though they were not promised a hotdog lunch as in the past. Even HOBO was observing social distancing by not gathering for lunch. People came in just long enough to register and grab pickup sticks and gloves. This goes to validate that it really is not about the food but about keeping their mission statement which is to preserve, protect and improve Lake Mitchell.
There had been so much damage from the Hurricane Zeta back in October 2020 and the latest tornados that there was a large number of trashed items in the lake. There were partial roofs from boathouses and lots of boards with nails brought in not to mention chairs, trash cans, old tires, tables, storage chest and even a pressure washer minus the cord and motor.
Betty Newman Janney and her family began coming to Lake Mitchell in early 1960. She said her parents were friends with J. C. Stapleton of Stapleton Realty, and they would stay in their little cabin, just south of Walnut Creek, for a week in the summer. She says they made many wonderful memories there, from learning to “fiddle” worms to fish with.
In 1966, some new lots were opened up for lease by Alabama Power on the Coosa side of the lake across from Cargile Creek. Her parents were fortunate enough to get one of the lots in Finger Slough. At that time, you had two years from the time you leased a lot until you start building or you had to release your lot. Lots leased, at that time, for $75 per year. Betty said their quaint little cabin was mostly built by the hands of her parents and other family members. It was built as a place for her daddy to be able to get away from work and the many calls for work that he would get if they stayed at home in Bluff Park. Now, we strive to have phones to keep in touch!
Betty said they had always tried to be good stewards of the lake. They kept a 5 gallon bucket and a net to pick up trash that they would see as they would be out boating. They watched for when Harbor Freight would put their extended “picker poles” on sale because they are so handy to grab trash at a distance that you might not otherwise be able to remove. She says they all enjoy participating in the lake cleanups but wish they were not necessary. They love the gifts of gratitude like the T-shirts and hats given by Alabama Power. Betty’s family refer to them as their lake wardrobe.
Betty said her mother had her 95th birthday on Christmas Eve 2020, so she does not get around quite as well now but still jumps at every opportunity to go to the lake. She helps however she can on the cleanup days. Betty, her husband, their two children and all five of their grandchildren love the lake and every opportunity they have they are here. She says it is a place of beauty that God gifted us and we will work hard towards keeping it up.
On any given cleanup day there are way too many Skoal containers, empty cans and plastic bottles. She said their daughter-in-law started getting concerned about what was next as they found a sleeping bag, a cooler and a life jacket in one area. She said one year they towed a metal barrel across the lake and damaged the boat motor and that haul hit their pocketbook heavily. All in the name of keeping Lake Mitchell clean.
Betty and Trip Janney, their daughter and her mother, Martha Newman, all live in Thorsby. They still come to the lake and show their love and dedication through four generations. A love of God, the appreciation of the beauty He gave them through Lake Mitchell and a desire to be good stewards is a great legacy passed down by the Martha Newman family.