It's April again, and that means the annual Community Pride Week steering committee is going into high gear as it plans the area's sixth annual anti-trash blitz.
The steering committee planning the event has been meeting regularly at the Columbia River Bank, and this year's event -- scheduled for the week of April 23-29 -- is going in some unusual directions.
One interesting development is that the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association has agreed to take up to 3,000 used tires, at no cost to the cleanup committee, for use in a beach improvement project the windsurfing group is planning in Mosier.
The tires will be used to build a retaining wall.
"We'll save money in not having to pay someone else to take them off our hands," said Erin Anderson, president of the Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce, which helps to sponsor the annual cleanup. "That has been one of our largest expenses, disposal of those tires."
"Removing tires has been our biggest obstacle, and this would allow us to remove the tires with minimal expense," agreed Teunis Wyers, chair of the steering committee.
The trash dump site -- which will be at the same site as last year, on Port of Klickitat property across from the Bingen wastewater treatment plant -- will accept only passenger tires and light truck tires, and all tires must be off their rims. A small handling fee will be collected for each tire dropped off.
However, John Longfellow expressed some skepticism about the proposal.
"My experience is, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually ends up costing a lot," he explained.
Another unique aspect of this year's event is a proposal from Brad Roberts to build art out of some of the abandoned trash. The result is being billed as a "Trash Art" contest, open to everyone. A space adjacent to the dump site will be set aside for contestants to create their "art."
A jury will award cash prizes for the best sculpture created during the week, with $100 prizes for the best individual and team entries.
Wyers said he wants to thank the community in advance for its support over the six years the Community Pride Week cleanup has been ongoing.
"We'd like to let the community know how much effort goes into this," Wyers added. "And how much we appreciate the community's support."
Before the event kicks off, students from Columbia High School will distribute more than 1,000 flyers that describe and promote the community's cleanup week. The flyers will be posted in businesses and stores around the community in an effort to reach throughout the community to make the process as effective as possible.
In addition, letters will be sent to specific businesses and individuals where cleanup is seen as necessary. The cleanup committee plans to offer volunteers to help clean those sites.
"The letter encourages cleanup by offering to help specific places where problems might have been noticed. We may offer to send volunteer crews to help at those places," said Tim Middaugh, one of the steering committee members.
Again this year, the Trout Lake-based Northwest Service Academy will play a major role in this year's project. NWSA members will assist at the main trash drop site, pulling aside items that can be recycled to avoid unnecessary volume at the landfill.
"This crew will see that recyclables get into the recycling stream. That is a huge help," Wyers explained. "What they do with this event is awesome."
Another NWSA team wants to help clean critical areas of the watershed, and Wyers suggested they tackle removing a tire pile along Spring Creek.
Also, Carl McNew of Windermere-Glenn Taylor Realtors, with assistance from his office staff, plans to paint another house during the week. Last year, they painted a house on W. Jewett in White Salmon, and this year plan to paint a house in Bingen.
Wyers and Goodfellow pointed out that Allied Waste, operator of the regional landfill site in Roosevelt, and partner RDC Trucking were making a huge contribution to the success of the cleanup event.
"Allied is allowing us to fill four big containers free, as well as several containers for recyclables," Wyers noted. "They are providing thousands of dollars worth of containers and hauling, plus free disposal. There is no way we could do this without their support. What they do with this event is awesome."
"Their contribution goes way above and beyond the contractual requirements," added Goodfellow.
Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel said he expected the city of Bingen to be involved again this year.
"Typically, we send the city crew out to pick up yard debris left along the road. I assume we'll do the same thing this year," Prigel said. "I believe that helps many people who otherwise have trouble removing debris."
Margie Ziegler, who represents the city of White Salmon, said the planning process is going smoothly.
"We encourage everyone to do something to help make White Salmon and Bingen the cleanest it can be," Ziegler said. "Help each other, even if all you do is get a bag and walk around the block and pick up trash. It would be awesome if everyone did something."
Ziegler added that the city will pick up extra bags of yard debris -- but no household garbage -- at no extra charge during scheduled garbage runs during the week of the trash cleanup.
Ziegler wanted to remind residents that businesses and individuals can call the Chamber of Commerce to schedule a pickup crew to move appliances or anything they can't move themselves.
Anderson, who said he has observed the improvements in the look of the community since Community Pride Week first got started in 1995, praised Wyers for the work he has done over the years.
"He's doing a really terrific job," said Anderson.
The next meeting of the cleanup committee is scheduled for Wednesday, April 4, at noon in the bank's upstairs meeting room.
For more information, or to arrange for trash pickups, call the Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce at 493-3630.