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Release Date: 07/27/2002
Contact Information: Wesley Lambert, Office of Public Affairs, (404)562-8316
The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Harold Mitchell of Spartanburg, SC is the recipient of the National Citizen's Excellence in Community Service Award. The award, presented to Mr. Mitchell at EPA's National Community Involvement Conference in Portland, Oregon, is in recognition of his work in establishing a successful public/private partnership to identify, assess, cleanup and revitalize contaminated sites in the Arkwright/Forest Park area of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Mr. Mitchell has acquired a noteworthy reputation for being a leader and risk taker in identifying the needs and concerns of this community and taking collective actions to address their concerns which included environmental degradation, blight, health and safety and drug activity. His involvement in environmental matters began in 1994 when he became interested in an abandoned fertilizer facility and its potential impacts on his community. His initial interests and investigation eventually led to the formation of ReGenesis, a local group focused on environmental injustice.

Re-Genesis, with more than 1400 members under Mr. Mitchell's leadership, has taken a primary role in establishing partnerships to address local environmental and health issues as well as revitalization. The group conducts numerous community meetings, forums and has been successful in attracting financial assistance. Revitalization efforts include housing, public safety, transportation, job-training and a health clinic for the Arkwright/Forest Park Area.

The target area (Arkwright/Forest Park) is on the south side of the city and has a 96 percent African-American population. The target community is within a one-quarter-mile radius of two Superfund sites. Other local areas of concern include an abandoned textile mill, an operating chemical plant, two dumps and several suspected illegal disposal areas. The area has not enjoyed any substantial commercial development for years.

The Citizen's Excellence in Community Involvement Award is in its 3rd year as an awards program. The award is given by the Environmental Protection Agency to recognize an individual or community group working with a Superfund team for outstanding achievements in the field of environmental protection.