Mayor Steve Butcher and student volunteers from the Full Armor of God Baptist Church in Reynoldsburg recently completed five weeks of work on the bridge connecting Pataskala Ridge to Mill Street.

Mayor Steve Butcher and student volunteers from the Full Armor of God Baptist Church in Reynoldsburg recently completed five weeks of work on the bridge connecting Pataskala Ridge to Mill Street.

The work included some incidental sidewalk work at the farmers market and several sessions of bridge painting to remove accumulated graffiti on the walkway.

Pataskala Ridge residents Shawn and Tasha O'Neill said they use the bridge almost every day with their daughter, Riley, and son, Drew.

"We probably use it once or twice a day in the summer, spring and fall," Tasha O'Neill said. "We use it to access the school playground. We walk to McDonald's sometimes for a treat."

Shawn O'Neill said the bridge was convenient to access the annual street fair.

Butcher said the walkway is used by many residents.

"This trail is used a lot," Butcher said. "I've been surprised how many people have been on the trail while we are doing this."

The work has made a difference, Tasha O'Neill said.

"Our first impression was, wow, someone's painting, it looks so nice," she said. "It makes it look clean and fresh and cared for."

Volunteers from the church completed the work as part of an ongoing volunteer effort organized by the city.

"Some of the kids are so young I thought it would create some issues," Butcher said. "But the truth is, even if they go home a mess, it doesn't make a difference whether you are 6 or 60 doing this. They only work an hour at a time, and we've had probably 16 at a time for five weeks. All the cost to the city is just the stain."

Some graffiti was bad enough that a few adult volunteers went in first to remove the worst of it.

"They were all covered in graffiti, with foul words and dirty drawings," Butcher said. "The wood on the bridge was the same. Some of the adults came down and painted out some of the things so the kids would not be exposed to it."

Butcher said fighting graffiti is a constant battle.

"The only way you can combat it is as soon as it happens you have to get in there and clean it up," Butcher said.

In past years, volunteer groups have painted city fire hydrants and performed other maintenance projects. Volunteers also maintain streams.

"We use clubs like the Rotary to clean up logjams," Butcher said. "We had two major logjams that required heavy bulldozers to clear them up. Now, as soon as we get a jam starting, we come in and clean it out."