Bed Bug Rumor Ruins Senior Cleanup Day
Saturday, April 7, 2012
GARY - An apparent false communication about bedbugs derailed
the Good Friday cleanup at a senior citizen high-rise Friday.
For the first time since 1993, State Rep. Vernon Smith and his
group of young African-American Achievers weren't able to donate
their time cleaning apartments for senior citizens at the Al Thomas
senior citizen high-rise, 100 W. 11th Ave.
Smith said Friday his group arrived at the senior center in the
morning and its office was closed. Smith said a security guard was
the lone person by the office and the guard told one of his board
members the building had bedbugs. The officer said his own home had
"We discussed it and decided we couldn't put the boys in harm's way
and take the stuff to their homes," said Smith.
A short time later after the crew had left, Smith received calls
from Gary Housing Authority interim director Nate Williams and
tenant council president Beverly Johnson saying the center did not
"There are no bedbugs in this building," Johnson said. There's
nothing going on here," she said.
Johnson said they had bedbugs in the past, but she said she led a
protest last year to get the building cleaned up.
"We are bug-free," she declared.
Smith said he had 20 tenants signed up for the free cleanups.
"It's too bad," Smith said. "I guess it was misinformation. But I
didn't want to take a chance."
Smith said he'll try to take the group back in May.