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September 25, 2017

7/20/2016 2:27:00 PM
Frank and Duke make park their special project
Frank Binder not only helps keep Washington park clean, he has taken the initiative on other beautification tasks, like pulling weeds and planting flowers. Duke was rescued after being abandoned in the woods, caught in an animal trap.(Sierra Henry photos)
Frank Binder not only helps keep Washington park clean, he has taken the initiative on other beautification tasks, like pulling weeds and planting flowers. Duke was rescued after being abandoned in the woods, caught in an animal trap.(Sierra Henry photos)

Three weeks after his dog and wife died, Frank Binder, 82, adopted Duke, a rescue dog that had been brought to the veterinarian's office after being found caught in an animal trap, trying to chew its own leg off.

Duke, after being found abandoned and alone in the woods, underwent surgery to amputate his front left leg, and was soon adopted by Binder.

Leery of his new owner, Duke spent his days hiding and slowly warming up to Binder. Binder said Duke seemed to be worried that he would be abandoned once again.

But shortly after Duke's initial arrival, he was thrown into action when Binder's self-cleaning oven began to smoke, setting off the fire alarm. Binder, who had turned off his hearing aid, was unable to hear the alarm and it was up to Duke to save the day.

"He jumped up on my bed and barked until I woke up. He saved my life," Binder said.

Today, Binder and Duke, with their crises past them, can be found spending their evenings walking around Washington Park, Robinson, collecting trash and other recyclables after what started out as taking the dog out for exercise.

"It's a city park and everybody should keep it clean," Binder said.

Since 2014, Binder and Duke have not been strangers to the park. In the beginning, Binder started by walking Duke around the park, letting the dog choose the pace and where or when they would sit down. However, as an old scoutmaster, Binder began to notice the large amounts of litter scattered around the park after flag football practices and tennis tournaments. At first, he requested the coaches to have parents and teammates to pick up their trash after games, tournaments and practices.

"Sometimes people just need a little reminded. That's all it takes," said Binder.

He noted the teams have been better about leaving the trash - Gatorade bottles, energy snack wrappers, etc. - but, he was still finding waste in other places around the park. As a away to combat the issue, Binder started collecting the various trash and recyclables.

Each month, Binder files one recycling trash container with the plastic bottles he finds, which is picked up by the city. Every so often, he will bring the aluminum cans he finds to the recycling center and donate the money to various charities.

Collecting waste is not the only project Binder has undertaken at Washington Park. During the summer of 2015, the bird feeder by the gazebo was vandalized and Binder took it upon himself to repair the feeder for free. He as also planted a rose bush in dedication to his wife by the gazebo and recently pulled the weeds around the Lacy Woolverton memorial.

After a snow storm, Binder can also be found using his snow blower, creating a walking path for the children sledding at the hill.

Most evenings, Binder and Duke will arrive at Washington Park and collect trash together from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Over the years, they have found many other items amongst the waste, such as golf clubs, a digital camera, fishing gear, glasses, tennis balls, a tennis racquet and even a red bouncy ball that had rolled into the area after a storm.

With some of the more expensive items he has found, Binder has requested the help of his grandson, Blake Binder, to locate their owners. However, some of the items do not have an owner, so he gives them away to those who might need it the most.

"I gave a red rubber ball to a little boy not too long ago and, the next time I saw his mother, she told me he plays with it every day," Binder said. "There are also two boys and a girl who play tennis here every night, but only had two racquets. I gave them the one I found in the trash so they could play together."





Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, July 25, 2016
Article comment by: Melody Ramsey

Its too bad there aren't more people in the world like him. Everybody is so worried about their own boring lives they can't think of anything or anybody but theirselves.
Thank you for being different.
To me you are a hero in yourself.




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