— Scores of yellow safety vests and the sound of chainsaws marked the work of Mormon Helping Hands in Susquehanna County this past Saturday.
Well over 200 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints carried out multiple service projects in Lanesboro and Oakland involving brush clearing, weeding, bulb planting, mulching and painting.
Several members of the Honesdale congregation worked with their brothers and sisters to accomplish the work. Lanesboro Mayor Chris Maby said that before Saturday he didn't know what to expect, but was "remarkably overwhelmed" by the results.
He said that even while the work was happening he received calls from pleased borough residents. Kenneth Cooper, a regional church leader for Northeast Pennsylvania, said the reason for the projects is that "a new church building is being built, and the community has been welcoming and open. The least we can do is give back to the community. The bottom line is that we are just trying to follow Jesus Christ and serve others."
One of the church's major historical sites is located in the area, and a meeting house and visitor's center will be built there.
In Community Park behind the Community Center in Lanesboro the landscape beds were weeded, bulbs planted and mulch spread in Rigo Court, and heavy brush was cleared from the slope above the park. Historical photos in the Community Center were removed from frames for digitizing.
Beneath Starrucca Viaduct heavy brush was cleared along the south bank of the creek and in a glen across South Main Street.
Picnic tables and bathrooms were painted in Luciana Park. Mayor Maby related that one of the borough council members wished he had a camera with him when he saw an 8- or 10-year-old boy on his back painting the underside of a picnic table.
A new sign for the viaduct was hand lettered and painted by Robert Woolley of Stroudsburg.
And in Oakland brush was cleared from old home sites on a hillside along Highway 171 just east of the Exchange Street bridge.
Page 2 of 2 - Families and individual Latter-day Saints came to work from congregations all over Northeast Pennsylvania – Honesdale, Susquehanna, Montrose, Nazareth, Stroudsburg, Wilkes-Barre, Tunkhannock, Scranton and Easton.
"These are great projects that the community provided us, ones that young and old can do," said Timothy Oustrich, also a regional church leader.
"From the Borough Council, it's beyond words," said Mayor Maby, referring to the amount of work accomplished, and he noted that "the size of the town about doubled."