HILLSDALE – When trash is dumped in unwelcome areas, people take notice.
The Mrs. Stock’s Park workers have been alarmed and dismayed a few different times this summer to find yard debris and other things in the St Joe River alongside the park.
Committee member Louise Worms said the yard debris has been collecting in a couple of spots and is getting tangled.
“If it continues to accumulate it will interrupt the river’s flow,” she said. “We have also seen a lumber piece similar to a pallet in the river a couple of times.”
In connection with this, a few months ago several Hillsdale County organizations and groups were contacted by the South Bend, Indiana PBS station WNIT to participate in efforts to raise awareness of the St. Joseph River. A documentary featuring the St. Joe River is called “Then, Now and Always” and premiers at the Jonesville District Library at 5 p.m. Aug. 30.
“Those who’ve been to our concerts this year have seen and heard how the Mrs. Stock’s Park Committee thought they could be involved,” Worms said, noting work is done there weekly on Thursday mornings.
Additionally, Hillsdale County Historical Society member JoAnne Miller has been working with WNIT to get Hillsdale County represented and involved. Miller collected the posters made by students in a Jonesville High School biology class and pictures of the Stock family, Stock mill and Stock park for display at the Tuesday concerts in the park.
She also made brief remarks at the concerts about how integral the river was to the mill both here and in Litchfield. The St. Joe River originates in Hillsdale and flows generally west, but also south into Elkhart and South Bend, Indiana before going to St. Joseph, and into Lake Michigan.
At the final concert of the season, Miller said the river powered Stock’s Mill and the park that Wilhelmina Stock created on the west side of the mill race was first called Willow Park after the 10 willows there. Stock opened the park to visitors and people then called the park Mrs. Stock’s Park. It has been the site of the Tuesday concerts in the park annually.
Miller and concert organizer Cory Champion have advised during these concerts of the earnest wish to keep the river clean for the fish and other wildlife who live in the St. Joe, as well as people who fish, canoe or kayak there for recreation. The river runs next to the park that has been described as a gem for the city of Hillsdale.
Worms said it’s important to remind people of the community of “the important natural resource we have right here and it’s health and safety is up to each one of us. Future concerts in the park won’t be much of an attraction if our river is junky, smelly and polluted.”