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ROCK FALLS – A Rock Falls resident thinks people should take time out of their busy days to take a relaxing walk around the neighborhood, and he's done his part to encourage them.
Dennis Fulrath, a Sauk Valley Community College trustee, recently reached out to Sauk Valley Media for help in spreading his message.
Fulrath built a bench that sits at the corner of his property in the 1200 block of Seventh Avenue to serve as a rest area for walkers. Not just any old bench, either – it's a memorial to his parents. A nameplate says: "Memory and appreciation beloved parents, grandparents, community members Paul & Lois Fulrath."
The bench was built with dogs in mind. There is a small waste can on either side, one containing bags and ties for picking up doggy do-do, and the other for disposal purposes.
The memorial bench has become a popular neighborhood resting area, Fulrath says. Several men have stopped by his house to get pointers on making a similar bench after their wives put the job on their honey-do list.
He wants to see the benches spring up in yards throughout the Sauk Valley.
"It is my hope that many other residents will place a bench along the walkway of their properties to encourage walking and provide plenty of places for them to rest and chit-chat."
He is happy to see the cities of Rock Falls, Sterling and Dixon and institutions like Sauk Valley Community College investing in more benches, Fulrath said.
While he wants people to get more exercise, the bench campaign sends another strong message.
After reading Fulrath's plea, I was reminded of the well-known Robert Frost poem, "Mending Wall." Two neighbors in a rural area get together to talk about the need to repair the wall that separates their properties. The discussion takes a turn when one man questions the need for the wall. His contention is that boundaries alienate people, while the only answer the other man can repeatedly come up with is "good fences make good neighbors".
When I was a child, we ran around the neighborhood like all of it was ours. Most of the adults wanted it that way and the ones our parents knew well often asked us in for snacks. It's a different world today and adults must be much more cautious about where the kids are going.
Many areas, however, might have stopped feeling like neighborhoods largely because more busy adults adhere to the "good fences make good neighbors" philosophy.
Like Robert Frost, Dennis Fulrath questions the need for fences and his actions go so far as to make neighbors, strangers and their pets feel at home on his property. What a nice tribute to his parents.