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Families have a squeaky clean good times at JMHA Community Days in Steubenville

A BUBBLY PERSONALITY — Isabell McElwaney, 6, enjoys splashing in sudsy pools of water Friday before she found out the suds were meant to help her slide on the plastic sheeting stretched across a field in Steubenville’s North End, a last-minute attraction at the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Community Days party. (Photo by Linda Harris)

STEUBENVILLE — Ka’niyah West couldn’t hide how much fun she was having Friday at Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Community Days celebration for the North End.

Just two days earlier she’d been at the South End festivities. Yes, she admitted with a pleased grin, she’d double-dipped.

“It’s better today,” she said, beaming. “We’ve got a slip’n slide.”

Not an official slip’n slide: This one was a DIY hack … four plastic baby pools filled with water, some plastic sheeting, dish detergent and a hose to keep it all wet for some slippery kickball action.

“I saw it on Pinterest,” said Apollonia Agresta, a student at the University of Southern Mississippi. She said she’d heard about the party JMHA had in the south end, “so I asked if I could volunteer for this one.”

“I want to start getting involved more,” the Steubenville resident said. “I like being involved, I like the kids. I like seeing everybody happy and smiling.”

John Levy, the city patrolman and JMHA security officer who organized the Community Days celebrations, said Agresta managed to put the attraction together with minimal expense.

“She got all of it donated,” he said. “She heard about Community Days and wanted to get involved. She’s been out here with me since this morning, trying to make this memorable for the kids.”

Levy said people “were just walking up asking to help.” City firefighters were on hand with free gifts and information, the Jefferson County Bookmobile passed out free books. There were even volunteers willing to flip burgers and hot dogs on the grill.

“I love how it turned out,” he added. “Adults in the community are actually looking out for other people’s kids. That’s the way it used to be. We’ve got to get back to that. We’ve got to start taking care of each other.”

Levy said Wednesday’s picnic in the south end had been a lot of fun and well attended, “but I’ve got a feeling this one is going to be bigger.”

“But that’s what we want,” he said. “We want to get them out so they can enjoy a nice day and have some fun.”

Police Capt. Joe Buckmelter, JMHA’s security chief, said they’re hoping to make Community Days an annual attraction.

“Honestly, John (Levy) and Melody (McClurg, JMHA’s executive director) came up with the idea and in a very short period of time put it together,” he said. “To my knowledge, it’s the first time this has been done.”

And after several murders, a string of drug busts and public housing evictions, Buckmelter said it’s a welcome distraction for everybody.

“People see us professionally as cops,” he said. “They may see us having to evict someone or following up on an incident. This is a different kind of interaction. Hopefully, it will bring everybody a little closer.”

Steubenville resident Brooks Hurt helped entertain kids with his quarterbacking skills. He was also the one who showed the kids how to use the makeshift slip’n slide.

Hurt said it was about “just being a productive citizen.”

“I know a lot of these kids from the community,” he said. “I just wanted to show my respect. This is something good for them to do.”

Community sponsors included the Apollo Pro Cleaning & Restoration; Carriage Inn; Choice Vending Supply;

Coleman Professional Services; Domino’s Pizza; DJ Feaster; Fraternal Order of Police; General Rental; Gombar Residential & Commercial Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration; Henry Fleming; JC Pest Control; JMHA; Kroger; Lowe’s; Maryland Market; McDonald’s;

Panhandle Cleaning & Restoration; Pizzoferrato Properties; Randalson & Son Heating & Cooling; Riesbeck’s, Rutt’s Cross Creek; Roto-Rooter; Rural King; Steubenville City Schools; Steubenville Plate & Glass; Target Sports Shop; The Pest Detective; TS Electric; Urban Mission; and Walmart.

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