Year in Review: Eastern Regional High School mourns the loss of its ‘super fan,’ Bruce Jackson

Another big story this year was the EPA establishing a timeline for the cleanup of Sherwin-Williams/Hilliard’s Creek superfund site.

Eastern Regional High School’s ‘super fan,’ Bruce Jackson, passes away

The Eastern Regional High School community is still reeling from the loss of its ‘super fan,’ Bruce Jackson, after he passed away from kidney failure earlier this month. He was 52.

Even though Jackson wasn’t a student, he was a familiar face at Eastern almost every day for 17 years. He roamed the hallways like he was going to class, rode around the school to stop at any after school activity he could find, and rode around the athletic field making stops at every practice and game.

His uplifting personality was one of a kind and his infectious smile could be seen miles away. A bad day instantly turned into a better day to whoever came in contact with him.

“He just had a special gift that God gave him to motivate people to get them to smile,” said former student Sean McAleer, a 2005 graduate and close friend of Jackson.

Jackson was born with cerebral palsy and lived at The Voorhees Rehabilitation & Care Center across the street from the high school. Once he made his way to Eastern’s campus, he never left their side, attending every kind of practice and game — football, field hockey, soccer and marching band to name a few. Rain or sleet never kept him away from going to games and sometimes he would be the only person in attendance. He inspired thousands of lives throughout his time at Eastern and formed lasting relationships with students, former students and faculty members.

“He was a part of us; we started calling him Coach Bruce,” Gary Worthington, health and physical education teacher and close friend of Jackson said after shortly his death. “Everybody loved him. The kids adored him.”

“I think he was an inspiration to everybody and everybody loved him,” said Jamie McGroarty, health and physical education teacher. “I think he got out a lot from us, but we also got a lot from him. He loves all the sports, all the kids, all the activities. You ask anyone who went through here, they knew Bruce.”

EPA continues with established timeline for cleanup of Sherwin-Williams/Hilliard’s Creek superfund site

Residents who are waiting for the EPA to begin remediation work for the bulk of Kirkwood Lake are going to have to keep waiting.

This year officials with the EPA said the agency would continue with previously announced targets for deciding remediation plans for the Sherwin-Williams related superfund sites in Voorhees and Gibbsboro, meaning a plan won’t be in place for Kirkwood Lake until at least 2019.

Kirkwood Lake, as with other pieces of the Sherwin-Williams superfund site, remains contaminated with lead and arsenic due to years of waste and byproduct disposal from a paint manufacturing plant operated from the mid-1800s through 1977 upstream in Gibbsboro by John Lucas & Company and later Sherwin-Williams

Most recently in 2016 the EPA decided on soil remediation actions Route 561 Dump Site in Gibbsboro.

Most recent estimates from the EPA a burn site in Gibbsboro as the next area to have a plan finalized in 2017, with 2018 set for former manufacturing plant and then 2019 for the Hilliard’s Creek and Kirkwood Lake waterways.

However, as EPA officials have noted in the past, once a remediation plan has been decided, actually remediation can still be years after that point due to the time needed for design work.

That timeline also puts the EPA at opposition of Camden County, which owns Kirkwood Lake and earlier this year released a report that called for a complete dredging of the lake as soon as possible else the lake could potentially die.

The Camden County report showed the lake measuring progressively shallower throughout the last century, with the lake’s original depth reported near nine-and-a-half feet, then four-and-a-half feet by 1979 and then two to two-and-a-half feet in recent years.

Camden County officials fear the lake’s diminished carrying capacity could lead to lead and arsenic sediments being downstream to the Cooper River should a significant rainstorm occur.