April full of events to clean up area

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

For the next several weeks, groups and the individuals from all across the area will be forming determined posses to hunt down what has increasingly become public enemy No. 1 across Southeast Missouri:

Litter.

April is the month that many people perform the rite of spring cleaning in their homes, and now attention is being turned to the world outside -- from streets and alleys to parks and back yards.

And there are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved, whether it's Jackson's Spring Cleanup or Park Day to Cape Girardeau's Friends of the Park Day or this year's new Wednesday Special Pickup Day.

On Saturday, for example, groups across Scott City will gather at Burger King at 9 a.m. to join with the Kiwanis Club, which does a cleanup once a month.

"It's something no one really wants to take credit for. It's just a greater awareness in the community," said Kiwanis president Paul Schock. "And it's making a difference."

Schock said various groups and civic clubs will clean up the Interstate 55 entrance and exit ramps that make their way into town. They'll also go around the old train caboose looking for trash.

"It's a great effort," Schock said. "We just want to make our community a cleaner, better place."

Schock said the public is invited to show up and help out.

Scott City also had its citywide cleanup last week. Public works director Jack Rasnic said that city residents were allowed to bring trash all last week to the public works shop. He had four Dumpsters set up, but residents ended up filling 12 Dumpsters with trash, compost, appliances and other unwanted junk.

"It's a big improvement," he said. "It cleans up the town a lot."

Large items in Jackson

This week in Jackson is the Spring Cleanup, where Jackson residents can put large items on the curb on the same day their regular trash is picked up, said public works director Rodney Bollinger. It will go until Friday.

Bollinger said he even put out an old water softener he no longer uses.

"It's unlimited, the amount of trash people can put out," he said, adding that it's for residents only, not businesses. "They put anything and everything out at the curbside."

Leisa Floyd, customer service representative for Jackson public works, said they will pick up anything but tires. The city will also pick up one appliance for free. Anything more than that will cost $10 apiece for pickup.

Last year, Jackson picked up 55 loads, equaling 292 tons. Crews picked up 209 appliances, including washing machines, stoves, microwaves, air conditioners and refrigerators.

Jackson's Park Day is set for April 30. Parks director Shane Anderson said people wanting to help can show up at Jackson City Park's shelter No. 1 on Parkview Street by the two tennis courts. He said typically about 200 people show up to help. They'll also get lunch and a free T-shirt.

Those who help -- Anderson said they get helpers from ages 6 to 96 -- will be picking up trash and limbs as well as planting flowers and trees or painting park benches.

"It's a joint celebration for Arbor Day for us as well," he said.

If individuals can't make it that day, they can form their own projects. To find out what needs done and to register, Anderson said to call his office at 204-8848.

Anderson said people who help leave feeling tired -- but knowing they made a difference.

"It's a chance to come out and have a hands-on effect for the park," he said. "It's a chance for people who use the park throughout the year to say, 'Hey, I want to do something to help this park.'"

Two people, 15 minutes

Similar projects are going on in Cape Girardeau.

For the first time in years, Cape Girardeau will not have a citywide spring cleanup where everyone can set their larger items at the curb. That was cut for financial reasons, said public works director Tim Gramling.

But a new cost-effective program has taken its place, he said. It's called Wednesday's Special Pickup, he said. The free program allows people to put out their items once a year. People can set out any items as long two people can pick the items up and load them onto trucks in 15 minutes.

Regular trash can be put in boxes and bags, just like always, but grass and leaves must now be put into compost bags, Gramling said. Limbs also must now be bundled and the city will pick up to 10 bundles of limbs at no charge.

Solid waste superintendent Mike Tripp stressed that waste needs to be separated. "Before, we got into such big problems with people just throwing stuff into the curb."

The city is already booked through May 11. To make an appointment for your residence, call 334-9151. People in Cape Girardeau can schedule appointments once a year.

Friends of the Park Day is also coming up in Cape Girardeau. Dan Muser, parks and recreation director, encourages people to show up at Capaha Park on April 23 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at shelter No. 1.

Normally, about 350 people show up to clean up trash, plant flowers, mulch and do some minor painting, along with other work, he said. The area around the swimming pool needs cleaned up also.

Other groups have already registered to do work at other parks, such as Dennis Scivally Park, May Green Garden and Kiwanis Park. Some people also do work at Arena Park, he said.

Last year, rain kept attendance down to about 150 people. One year, there were 600 helpers.

"It always depends on the weather," Muser said.

Lunch will also be provided for volunteers, he said.

No MOre Trash

The effort to rid trash is more than a regional effort. The Missouri Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the state's conservation department, oversee No MOre Trash, a Missouri anti-litter program. Ginny Wallace, co-coordinator of the program, said April features what they call No MOre Trash Bash.

The state is encouraging groups to form to pick up trash in their communities. She said they will be sending No MOre Trash Bash label pins to every group that participates, whether it's cleaning up a neighborhood, a park or any other area that has a lot of litter.

To report such activity, she said their Web site -- www.nomoretrash.org -- should have a reporting form next week. The program will also provide No MOre Trash heavy-duty yellow trash bags. E-mail Wallace at ginny.wallace@mdc.mo.gov. Tell her how many bags you need and she'll send them in the mail. She needs a mailing address, not a post office box.

Groups have until May 15 to report their activities.

Last year, 500 groups made up of 5,000 people participated in the No MOre Trash Bash, when it was just a week long.

"This year it's a whole month," Wallace said. "I ordered 10,000 pins this year, and I hope I run out and have to reorder."

There also has been more interest in the state's Adopt-A-Highway program, according to Mark Aufdenberg, the program coordinator for Southeast Missouri. Aufdenberg, who is with the Missouri Department of Transportation, said they've only had a couple more adoptions, but the department is getting several phone inquiries, which he hopes will lead to more adoptions.

Currently, there are 44 highways adopted in Cape Girardeau County, he said.

April is also the month groups that have adopted highways are encouraged to pick up their areas. He said fliers were mailed out to those groups at the end of March encouraging them to clean up their highways.

Those who want to adopt a highway can call (888) ASK MODOT. The department sends out an agreement form to be filled out and sent back. Those groups are then provided with trash bags and vests, and can then clean their adopted highway as often as they like. The department will pick up the bags that can be left on the side of the road, Aufdenberg said.

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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