ASHLAND Volunteers gathered at the Ashland Riverfront Saturday morning for the yearly Build Ashland Community clean-up project.

Though they were delayed slightly by the morning rain, more than 10 volunteers — all men and women from Ashland — got together with work gloves, weedeaters, chainsaws and trimmers to perform some much-needed maintenance around the statues and walking trails of the Riverfront.

Build Ashland is a volunteer organization started in 2013 and dedicated to encouraging the citizens of Ashland to organize, clean and improve the community through different projects.

Steve Cole, a part-time volunteer with Build Ashland and the city engineer, said, “I think they’re a wonderful organization. The diversity of the people is tremendous. Everyone is working cooperatively to help make Ashland a better place to live, and I think they’ve been successful in helping establish a great foundation for Ashland to continue to build on.”

As the rain subsided, volunteers quickly got to work pulling up weeds around the statues, cutting tall grass and briars along the walking trails and trimming the trees to make the Riverfront Park a safe place for recreation.

Mike Graese, Ashland’s City Manager, was among the volunteers and talked about how Build Ashland has helped the city.

“It’s just a really big volunteer organization that looks for opportunities in the city that other private or public organizations can’t tackle. If you go down to the end of Riverfront Park, a couple years ago it was nothing but weeds and a field,” Graese said. “They had a vision to make a walking path down there so for the first couple volunteer events that came up they did some weed whacking and limbed up the bushes so people would feel safe when walking. The commission then committed a couple thousand dollars to put asphalt in. What you see out there now is the vision of Build Ashland. It’s been really nice.”

Graese also talked about how important the work Build Ashland is doing during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With COVID going on we’ve had a lot of personnel reductions, we’re workers down in the Parks Department and three workers down in our City Streets Department so this has had a big impact on us,” Graese said. “Groups like Build Ashland that can come out and volunteer to lend a helping hand is super helpful for us and greatly appreciated by the city and our citizens. This park has become so much more popular since COVID started, people come down here at lunch and any time on the weekends, and it’s just filled with people who appreciate this.”

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