Fri, May 24

Commentary: It takes a Village to clean up after slobs

OK, we get it. Gary Chamberlain is vigilant, dedicated and committed to cleaning up trash in the Verde Valley.

Hat’s off to Mr. Chamberlain. His efforts are much appreciated and highly commended.

But here’s the rub: Gary, you’re not the only one who is involved in cleaning up trash in the Verde Valley. Further, just because some folks are choosing to pick up trash under a banner other than “Folksville USA” or “Operation Leapfrog” does not mean they are uncooperative or any less committed to the cause than you are.

Consider the following:

• June 23, the Oak Creek Watershed Council hosted a litter cleanup along three, one-mile sections of Oak Creek. It is one of several planned cleanups that are part of a one-year pilot program.

• Rain, sleet and hail did not stop community volunteers determined to help fellow residents during a big citywide cleanup in Cottonwood and Verde Village April 14. Pulling together volunteers from the faith community, nonprofit organizations, businesses and government, For Our City Cottonwood held a successful multidimensional community cleanup in spite of a cold and windy day. The City of Cottonwood participated by providing dumpsters and a collection site, staff members and two backhoe loaders. City Manager Doug Bartosh reported that 15 dumpsters were filled to the max. “Our tonnage was right at 36 tons,” Bartosh said. City employees led by Cottonwood Development Services General Manager Dan Lueder worked all day, with volunteers from the Cottonwood Chapter Five house helping at the collection site in the morning, and volunteers from Passion City Outreach with Bobby Lopez helping in the afternoon.

• In March of this year, Stewards of Public Lands and the Cottonwood Youth Advisory Commission joined forces to clean up the shooting range in the Prescott National Forest west of Cottonwood. The Stewards and commissioners gathered up two trailer loads of trash and bullet shells from the shooting area. Dave and Judy Miller of Cornville provided the trailer. Jim Sweitzer of Camp Verde and Stewards co-chairs Jess Tyler and Diane Joens of Cottonwood also assisted. The Stewards of Public Lands have been doing such cleanups since 2004 and have cleaned more than 400 tons of trash out of the forest and off State Trust Lands. In 2011 alone, during 19 different cleanups in the Verde Valley and Cherry areas, Stewards hauled in 10.41 tons of illegally dumped trash to the Cottonwood and Camp Verde transfer stations, and to Grey Wolf Landfill.

• The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office routinely “employs” inmates housed at the Camp Verde Detention Center for duties in and outside the Detention Center. In February, a crew of inmates was assigned to litter and trash pick-up along a one-mile stretch of SR 260 in Camp Verde. This section of highway has been adopted by the Sheriff’s Office as part of ADOT’s “Adopt a Highway” program, picking up 26 bags of litter from both sides of the highway.

• Volunteers from the Verde Village Property Owners Association clean trash from the AZ 260 roadside once every three months, filling 25-30 trash bags on each outing.

• Also in February, a crew of some 10 Cottonwood city employees including members of Public Works, Parks Maintenance, Water and Wastewater departments helped clean up Oak Wash and Rio Mesa Wash from the Eastern City limits to the western city limits. Approximately 26 cubic yards of trash was cleared from the washes.

• Finally, over the long haul, there is probably no one in the Verde Valley who has been so quietly and consistently committed to roadside trash clean-up in the Verde Valley than Cottonwood’s Roy Buck. For decades, “Old Roy” would have a new stretch of highway cleaned each day before most people got out of bed.

Clearly, there is no shortage of people in the Verde Valley who roll up there sleeves and donate their time and energy to making our community a cleaner and better place to live.

The job is getting done without the need for a coordinated and integrated effort led by a “Point Man.” Further, it’s a job that will always need multiple groups and multiple volunteers because try as we might, we never will cure some people of being inconsiderate slobs.

There is no need to politicize, polarize or criticize the efforts of everyone in the Verde Valley who work so diligently to clean up after others just because they’re not part of the “Folksville” effort.