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88 Counties: Ross County church helps beautify parks

Rev. Troy Gray brought members of his Zion Baptist Church in Chillicothe to pitch in and help clean up Hopewell Culture National Historical Park.

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Ross County citizens love their parks and are hoping international visitors will soon too.

The county is home to Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, and the mayor is currently applying to make it a UNESCO world heritage site.

"That world heritage designation is really going to put us on a worldwide map," Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney said.

But amid the pandemic, parts of parks across the rest of the city have fallen through the cracks as the maintenance staff only has about half the manpower of what they originally did.

To help, Rev. Troy Gray brought members of his Zion Baptist Church in Chillicothe to pitch in and clean up the park. Even as his congregants worked to help others, they too have suffered amid gathering limits to protect the elderly.

"I knew as soon as everybody started doing things, it was going to spike, and I didn't want to be a part of that spiking," Gray said.

Gray says his members have felt "pain and suffering" during the pandemic.

"When we look at all of the things that are happening in the world and the nation and our city, this is a time where a lot of people were experiencing anxiety," Gray said. "One of the things that the world needs now is hope."

"We just want to get through this and get back to business because frankly, things are really good here," Feeney said.