As rain trickles into the Ohio River, James Whitehead approaches Burlington Commons Park in Burlington, Ohio, with a pressure washer in hand.

At 8 a.m., it's overcast, and the temperature teeters around 64 degrees - but that won't stop him. He steps under the awning of the picnic shelter and sets up his equipment. Soon, water flows onto the shelter's floor, where layers of dirt and grime recede with each tilt of the pressurized stream.

Whitehead, a native of Burlington, says the community is "a nice place" to live.

Tamara Jones, president of the Concerned Citizens of the Burlington Area, agrees.

Burlington, the first and former county seat of Lawrence County, is the kind of community where neighbors become family, she said. And Jones, who has lived in Burlington her entire life and now teaches at Burlington Elementary School, can't imagine living anywhere else.

"Everyone watches out for one another," she said. "My neighbors know when I'm out of town, and we pick up the phones and call one another in the winter to say, 'I'm going out if you need anything.' We have that kind of community."

As head of the Concerned Citizens of the Burlington Area, Jones said it's her organization's responsibility to assist members of the community with any concerns they may have. From acting as community liaisons to general upkeep of the park, the group aims to make the community one worth investing in.

Burlington Commons Park, she added, is one of the community's biggest attractions. At this time, the organization is working toward getting more signage for its riverfront park.

"A lot of families enjoy the area at Burlington Commons," Jones said. "It's an amazing thing to sit back and watch people with their children come and eat lunch and play and enjoy."

The park is also home to the annual Burlington Family Reunion, which occurs at the end of July. Relatives who have relocated from Burlington get a chance to reminisce with former classmates and loved ones.

Jones said she believes her upbringing planted the seed for her passion in community outreach. Four of her five siblings still reside in Lawrence County.

"Both of my parents and grandparents were from here, as well as my husband's family," Jones said. "We're grounded and rooted here. As a young person, I had opportunities to move away, but I chose to stay. I chose to stay and raise a family here."

And for that, she is grateful.

"I love it here," Jones said. "I love my community. I love everything about it."


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