For almost a decade now, Rae has been helping to plant flowers and care for the popular footpath that sits between her home and Denzil Stewart Nature Park in Logan.
Rae, who calls gardening a passion, used rocks and plants to help spruce up the trail and to keep erosion from happening. "I was going through a divorce. I had no money, but I had time and I filled that time and gave it to the city," said Cathy Rae.
In 2005, the city of River Heights rewarded Rae for her volunteer efforts by naming her the Outstanding Citizen of the Year, but the city isn't shouting her praises now. In October, Rae received a hand-delivered letter signed by River Heights Mayor Bill Baker. In the letter the Mayor states, "You must stop working on any and all River Heights city property."
Rae says she was devastated when she read the mandate. "For them to dismiss me, like I didn't exist, I just felt totally empty," said Rae.
Despite her attempts to personally contact Mayor Baker, Rae says she doesn't fully understand why the city would turn on her now. She does, however, suspect that one of her neighbors could be behind it all. In 2006 that neighbor had an attorney draft a letter to the city, complaining about Rae's efforts - claiming it was causing erosion near their property line. "That person wrote a two and a half page letter to the city, saying all these things I'd done, which I didn't do," said Rae.
If Rae continues to work on any city property, she could face arrest or possible vandalism charges. She says she's devastated she's no longer able to share her passion and spirit of volunteering with others. "They just don't like me," said Rae.
Both Mayor Baker and Councilwoman Dixie Wilson who oversees the Parks and Recreation Dept. in River Heights declined to comment on the letter they sent to Rae.
In the meantime, Rae says she's planning to move out of the city.