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End of an Era

The sky was clear, the wind calm, the sun shine bright. We hadn't a clue the Queen would die just hours later.

The morning was still along Tar Creek, it was ours alone. The beauty of the way the water lays in between the banks hides what lies within it that may lurk to harm those who enter.

We assessed the need for the work that would commence and the strategy to take it on. Today's team brought simple tools to nudge and jostle apart the child-made structures holding back, deterring the flow of Tar Creek's water. One area had been contained long enough it appeared to be black water and farther downstream the top of the trapped water had begun to scum over.

There is something beautiful about clean, clear running water and we were not seeing any of that. We cared for each other, and our safety as we gently cared to take the tangles of rocks apart, one at a time times four. We made easy progress as a team and there was suddenly a sound from the water. It began to gush through and passed us. This sound was what had been missing. There had been no sound of running water. It had been still, noise-less until that moment.

We worked on turning first one and then the other just a bit here, some that way turned back toward the banks. Keeping them close to the site they were plied from.

Watchful for life, hoping to see any, no frog or fish eggs. Until suddenly the adult turtle discovered us and quickly left, and nearby beneath a rock, a single small snake wiggled, not too unlike the centipedes which were seen.

We delighted in the vibrant colors of the wildflowers along the banks, the yellow, the purple, the red Cardinal flowers, the butterflies, the bees. The pure beauty of the white clustered bouquets, and then we walked through the yellows higher than my head with the sun amplifying their glow I simply got lost inside and had stayed captured for a while with them.

There is no reason to stop fighting for a Clean Tar Creek. This place is a treasure to behold. The length of her flowing through the neighborhoods, who wouldn't want a beautiful water running past your backyard? The open access areas attract us as children. In fact it was children who first took me to the area that brought these new generation of children to claim it these last two years. I have photos of then 8th graders who brought me to their playground and through the trails to these special places. In fact their photo and their inspiration greets me in my office every day. Their belief then, their realization harm laid there with them in their playground startled and gave them purpose to want to protect and inform the young ones.

Join in this effort to reclaim your creek, the community playground it should be again. Seek access to the people who have the power if driven to use it to more quickly fix this polluted treasure. Some of these in authority will be in the room for you, for your access to them during this year's Tar Creek Conference Oct. 12 and 13. Where? where else? At NEO which lies in sight of Tar Creek, and is most at risk during her flood stages.

It takes very little effort to move these agencies to action. Just a few words from your city attorney on a phone call actually brought the Department of Environmental Quality into town with their boots on to walk your Tar Creek to see the use by children. They came to access the need for an investigation of just how unsafe it is for children to be in. How safe is it? Could it be safe?

These answers had never been asked by governmental agencies. They thought the deeming it a "superfund" title would scare the "be-jeev-ies" out of you all and because of that they could take 40 plus years to even see if your kids or you as a child could be harmed by being IN it. DEQ finally created warning signage, the city posted it, the children pulled it down almost at once. Rather saying, "Oh my? NOT MY TAR CREEK!" And denied the notice and left parts of the sign that DEQ picked up this week as evidence that they had tried at last and that message hadn't worked at all.

We know it didn't work as we walked along passed the left behind socks and different types of underwear randomly found along the trails. The telling that some of those who gather might be older was the beer can, still unopened there at the BNSF bridge. Kids would never have left it unopened.

There is a lot we didn't know all these years. We didn't know the Queen' death would be how we remember our dam busting day.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

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