Tulsa Volunteers Help Rebuild Downtown Weleetka

Saturday, June 13th 2009, 5:32 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

WELEETKA, OK -- About two dozen volunteers from a Tulsa company traveled to Weleetka to help revitalize the downtown that was damaged by fire.

Half of Weleetka's Main Street is a pile of rubble.

"These small communities have just a very hard time even surviving," said Sylvia Powell, a Tulsa volunteer.

The volunteer effort was about helping to rebuild the town devastated by loss.

Last summer, two young girls were gunned down during an afternoon stroll down a rural road.

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Then this spring, fire devastated a Weleetka landmark -- the Roundup Cafe.

The string of bad news sent shockwaves through the state.

A natural gas company in Tulsa, DCP Midstream, was looking for a community service project.

They wanted to beautify a town in much need of beauty.

"There are so many things that happen inside of Tulsa with people helping out, but it's these small towns that don't have those kinds of resources. So, it's nice that we can come and all band together to help," said Stacey Hensley, a Tulsa volunteer.

All of the bricks used to beautify downtown Weleetka come from the scene of the devastating downtown fire in March.

3/6/2009  Related Story: Fire Destroys Part Of Downtown Weleetka

"When you see people that come in and (volunteer), it's like drinking a glass of cold iced tea when you're thirsty on a hot day," said Gary Harrison, a Weleetka resident.

Gary Harrison is a Weleetka native helping with the restoration.

"Take a disaster, make a beautiful thing," said Harrison.

It's hot, sweaty work and it's about a lot more than planting a few trees.

"It means a lot to me and it will mean a lot when I come this way, to be able to look out and say, ‘hey, we helped out with this,'" said Powell.

After sprucing up Weleetka's Main Street, the Tulsa volunteers helped clean flowerbeds and helped fix turned over headstones at the local cemetery.

Volunteers also helped several elderly residents by clearing away tree limbs from recent storms.