On December 17, 2009, Eric Bonini, member of Leadership Greenville Class #36, emailed the Kudzu Coalition indicating that their class project was a "rather large clean-up of the Sterling neighborhood, near the Greenville City/County Line". Their end goal was a walking trail and Eric added that "a large part of the process involves removing (what we consider to be) a large quantity of kudzu". Eric asked "whether someone in your organization would be able to travel to Greenville, ideally in mid-January, to come teach us a crash-course in effective, permanent, pesticide-free kudzu removal?"
On December 22, Dr. Charles Covert, Paul Savko, and Newt Hardie met Eric and fellow Leadership Greenville team member, Rob Major, in Greenville. The group visited the site earmarked for revitalization and planned an attack on the kudzu as soon as possible.
January 28 was designated as KK (kudzu kickoff) day. A large group assembled at the kudzu site along Dunbar St. where it intersects with Minus St. in the Sterling Community and across the street from St. Francis Hospital. Paul Savko is shown leading the education phase for the group, which includes representatives from the City of Greenville, Greenville County, Greenville Recreation Department, Leadership Greenville, St. Francis Hospital, and the Sterling Community. January 2010.
Paul David Blakeley went to work immediately. He used his skid-steer loader named Kudzilla to roll back the kudzu (not shown here), push down the dead trees,
and carry them to the sidewalk. January 2010.
Meantime, Buddy Waters arrived with his trailer and tractor. January 2010.
Joey Marchbanks, operator of the green tractor in the first photograph below and employee of the Greenville County Recreation District, bush hogged after Kudzilla had cleared the way. Buddy followed closely behind on his orange tractor pulling his roto-tiller in background. Meanwhile, Kudzilla moved over to attack the kudzu on the trees at the creek as shown in the second picture. All three were at work at the same time. January 2010
As the area was cleared and as the pile of bio-mass grew, the three leaders for the Leadership Greenville Team 36 project felt good about the progress. Their expressions showed their feelings. Left to right are Rob Major, Estimator for Melloul-Blamey Construction Company, Helen Sanders, Project Manager, Hughes Development Corporation, and Eric Bonini, Lead Engineer for GE Energy, GTC - Compressor Airfoils. Helen is the Chair and Eric is the Vice-Chair of the overall project team. Rob is the leader of the Kudzu/Grading/Paving subgroup within the team. Note the large kudzu crown and root held by Eric. January 2010
St. Francis Hospital has provided funds for converting this eyesore into a walking trail. Maxim Williams, Director of Community Relationship Building and on the left, is happy with the first day's progress. Eric is in the middle and Paul Savko, member of the Kudzu Coalition is on the right. January 2010
Mr. Jerry Crockett, new resident in the Sterling Community volunteered to help. Our team doesn't have many "walk-ups" who happen to see us and pitch in. Mr. Crockett did - as the first picture shows. He was justly rewarded with one of the largest kudzu crowns of the day. He was a happy guy, and we all were delighted that he joined in the fight. The neighborhood has a jewel in Jerry Crockett. January 2010
Paul Savko experimented with a new, heavy duty string trimmer on wheels. This has promise for use around the edges of kudzu infestations. January 2010
As the sun dropped below the horizon, happy kudzu warriors looked back with pride onto the area worked, as shown in the first photograph. Dr. Charlie Covert, member of the Kudzu Coalition, stands tall before a taller mound of dead trees, privet, English ivy, kudzu, etc. January 2010