PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. – A community in Arkansas is coming together for a friend in need.
The longtime neighbor seen wheeling around on his bike, “Bicycle Ronnie”, has been out of town for months. His property was covered in trash and debris after squatters moved in when he left – but a group of neighbors are doing all they can to bring Ronnie back to a new home.
When neighbors first saw the property off E. Grinde Road three weeks ago, it was filled with broken-down cars, tires, and trash covering every surface. But after evicting the unwanted guests and getting to work, residents are hopeful Ronnie will be biking around his hometown again in no time.
Ronnie has been a familiar face in the Arch Street community for decades, biking around and helping others when he can. But community members haven’t seen him in months. The trailer he lived in was already in desperate need of repairs, so he went to stay with a caretaker out of town while the property was updated. But while he was away, his home was turned upside down by squatters who moved into the trailer and camped outside on the lot.
Alvie Taylor is one of those responsible for the cleanup. He describes the lot as a disaster. “What was left with us was this mess,” Taylor said. “Huge piles of debris and trash, the trailer had to be completely torn down.”
Now, community members are offering everything from their time to their money to help fix the place up so Ronnie can come back home. Lora Higgins is one such volunteer, who has known Ronnie for years. “I was like, ‘Oh this is not even real, it’s like a tornado came through here’,” she remembers when she first set eyes on the home. “He and I have got a bond that is like, I’ve never had with anybody.”
She and her family answered Taylor’s call to pitch in, a message that drew dozens to the destroyed lot. “I got on Facebook, reached out to the community,” he said, “and people are showing up.” Taylor continues to post videos and updates to his Facebook page on progress being made, with hundreds of neighbors checking in on the cleanup.
Local businesses have also pitched in, with some donating dumpsters, food for volunteers, and even their own construction equipment and vehicles to help get the job done. The next step after leveling the ground is to work on plumbing and electricity, then get a new home in the space for Ronnie to move into.
Taylor says the property is looking much better than it did a few weeks ago, but there’s still much to be done before Ronnie can move back in. Higgins says the community needs him home, and she says she knows he wants to come back. “He deserves to be back on his property and back in his community,” Higgins said.
While friends and neighbors wait for his return, the community that was built in his absence continues to work on the property, doing all they can as a team. “Ronnie’s been part of all of our lives, and now he’s bringing up back together,” Taylor said.
Those interested in learning more or helping out can contact Alvie Taylor at (214)-783-8758.