OAKFIELD – In spite of more than a year of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Village of Oakfield is blooming, in more ways than one.
In the spring newsletter, Oakfield Mayor Dave Boyle stated, “Social and economic renewal seem to be on the horizon.”
This week, village’s Clerk Treasurer Kim Staniszewski, Bill Barber from Oakfield/Alabama Lions Club, Oakfield Historical Society President Laurie Nanni, owner of The Goose, Sue Zeliff and mayor Boyle’s wife Judy shared news of many upcoming programs.
A big new project designed to brighten the town’s Main Street is the placement last week of colorful pots of flowers. Judy Boyle said she has often driven through the neighboring villages of Medina and Albion and seen their flowering pots and wondered why Oakfield couldn’t do the same.
Staniszewski agreed to organize efforts to raise money for pots and flowers, and after a plea for donations, the Department of Public Works, volunteers and students from Oakfield/Alabama Central School Future Farners of America chapter met to fill 37 pots with dirt and flowers. The DPW will maintain them throughout the summer.
Staniszewski said they were shocked how many people and churches contributed to the flower project.
The village also sponsored a coloring contest on Earth Day in April, and winners were posted in the village office windows.
Another project being undertaken by the village is acquiring a bike rack. The village is seeking someone to build decorative ones with the village logo on them. They are pursuing the necessary funding and hope to see the racks materialize in the near future.
“Our village is so walkable, and the sidewalks are so wide,” Judy Boyle said. “Everything is just coming alive.”
Boyle also noted the village’s Memorial Park on Main Street, behind Warner’s Flowers. Residents can buy bricks to memorialize friends and loved ones.
The park also boasts a sensory path. During the coronavirus pandemic, the village was approached by special needs staff at Oakfield/Alabama School, where they have a sensory path painted in the school. Individuals don’t touch anything as they walk along, but rather imitate the motions depicted by the paintings. The special needs department came and painted the sensory path in the park.
The Memorial Park is about an acre in size and is a nice, quiet little park, Boyle said.
The next big event is the Oakfield Community-Wide Garage Sale, sponsored by Oakfield/Alabama Lions Club. Lions Member Bill Barber is organizing the sale scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 12. It will encompass homes on streets within the village, as well as Roberts Road, Lewiston Road, Lockport Road and Albion Road.
As part of the day, the Oakfield Community Bible Church will have water available and will sponsor a bottle and can drive. The Oakfield Methodist Church will have a pie sale. In Triangle Park, the Lions will have a tent selling sausage, hot dogs and beverages; Pack 19 Cub Scouts will have a birdhouse sale; and the Oakfield Betterment Committee will sell tickets for their Labor Day raffle.
They are planning to have Labor Daze back this year. The Betterment Committee is also undertaking a tree-planting renewal project, under leadership of Jamie Lindsley.
Big things are happening at the Oakfield Historical Society. Because it was closed for a year during the pandemic, volunteers have been working on projects in the museum. Nanni said they are expanding the War Room, focusing on Italian immigrants, and catching up on reorganizing their files.
Because families were shut in during the pandemic, many took advantage of the time to research their ancestors. As a result, the Historical Society has received numerous calls asking for information on ancestors.
On May 22, the Historical Society will work with the town to clean up in Cary Cemetery. They alternate years between Cary and Reed cemeteries.
The Historical Society has paid for 15 Home Town Banners to honor the town’s deceased veterans. They printed brochures, which were distributed to the village office, Historical Society, Haxton Memorial Library and the town building on Drake Street, asking residents for names of veterans.
The Historical Society decided to pay for the banners because they had money, which was previously raised, but couldn’t be used for the intended projects because of COVID-19. They also said they realized many of these veterans no longer had family in the area to pay for a banner.
In July or August, the Historical Society will sponsor a walking tour on “Main Street Ablaze.” The tour, based on the Historical Society’s book, tells of the six times Main Street in Oakfield has burned in past centuries.
Sept. 3 will be a cemetery tour titled “History Comes Alive,” sponsored by the Historical Society.
Other books by the Historical Society are in the works. Nenni is planning one titled “More Mayhem,” a sequel to “Murder, Mysteries and Mayhem.” Several volunteers are working on a book about Oakfield’s cemeteries, and Bill Chase, who wrote “The Bone Fort,” is expanding his book on the Indian Woods, titled “Digging Deeper.”
Exciting news in the village is the repurposing of the former Yellow Goose market on Main Street. The building, which has been purchased by Peter Jr. and Sue Zeliff, has been turned into a community center.
A food pantry has been operating out of there, but on a limited basis during the pandemic. It has also become a community clothing center and Sue said they hope to have a Farmer’s Market there with a coop. Several local groups have been holding their meetings in the building.
“There are a lot of bakers in Oakfield and we’d love to see them sell their treats at a Farmer’s Market,” she said.
Sue also added the building needs a new roof and bathrooms, something they hope to accomplish soon.
During the Community Yard Sale, a local resident who started a stamping group will sell their greeting cards at The Goose. Crafters meet there.
The Lions Club managed to sponsor many of their projects during the pandemic. They packed and delivered dinners to shut-ins once a week during the winter. In November, they packed and delivered nearly 100 sunshine baskets to the elderly and those living alone.
In December, their Christmas in the Park and Breakfast with Santa were scaled down and featured a drive-by Santa visit and Santa talking and giving candy to about 75 kids.
The Lions were able to give out 95 chocolate rabbits in April at the Oakfield Town Park, during an Easter egg hunt.
In addition to the Community Garage Sale in June, the Lions will help the town with cemetery cleanup and sponsor a fishing contest in DeWitt Recreation Area in the City of Batavia. They are also planning to have a barbecued rib dinner in the Town Park in August.
Other regular projects throughout the year include vision screening, maintaining a medical loan closet, collection of eye glasses and hearing aids (they’ve collected more than 100 pair of glasses this year), and their plastic recycling challenge has resulted in enough plastic to receive four benches.
Finally, Haxton Memorial Library will restart its Monday morning story time at 10:30 a.m., according to library manager Kim Gibson. They have also added an afternoon story time at 2 p.m. on Thursdays. Preregistration is required for both. Monday’s story time will continue to be live on Facebook.
The library’s six-week Summer Reading Program will kick off on June 28. Children from Pre-K to sixth grade can participate in the program by checking out books and keeping track of their reading minutes. Prizes and incentives will be given out throughout the six-week program. Children can also participate in the weekly Thursday night Craft Time sessions. Preregistration is also required for this activity. For adults and teens, check-out tickets are being offered to enter them in a basket raffle.
The Haxton Book Club meets every six weeks on a Wednesday afternoon at the library. Anyone interested in joining or wishing more information can call the library.
“This all is a great representation of our community and our businesses,” Staniszewski said.
Top photo: Several active citizens from the Village of Oakfield are involved in a variety of events and projects to promote interest and encourage people to get out and show their support. Discussing their projects are, from left, Bill Barber, organizer of the Oakfield/Alabama Lions Community Yard Sale; Sue Zeliff, who with her husband, Peter Jr., have purchased the former Yellow Goose on Main Street and turned it into a community center; Kim Staniszewski, village clerk/treasurer; Judy Boyle, wife of Mayor Dave Boyle; and Laurie Nanni, president of the Oakfield Historical Society (with her 3-year-old granddaughter, Emma). Photo by Virginia Kropf.
Below: Sue Zeliff stands in front of “The Goose." Photo by Virginia Kropf.
Bottom two photos: Students from Oakfield/Alabama Central School FFA chapter who recently helped fill 37 pots with dirt and flowers for display on Main Street in Downtown Oakfield, which the DPW will maintain this summer. Photos courtesy of Judy Boyle.