It's coming around again: the sixth annual Community Pride Week cleanup, sponsored primarily by the Mt. Adams Chamber of Commerce and coordinated by Teunis Wyers.
This event, which will be under way April 23-29 this year, has taken on a life of its own. Those actively working to make the event a success include the cities of both White Salmon and Bingen, the Northwest Service Academy, the Mt. Adams Rotary Club, and students from the White Salmon Valley School District, so it's truly a broad-based community event. Also contributing in a huge way is Allied Waste, operator of the regional landfill in Roosevelt. The company has agreed to donate several 48-ft. trash containers, and will allow the containers to be dumped at no charge in Roosevelt.
It's interesting to look back at the origins of the cleanup. Wyers is the one who came up with the general idea of a community cleaning. He said the idea came to him after seeing the mess left behind from the February 1996 flooding.
"In terms of the recent flood damage and the general decline of the appearance of the downtown areas of White Salmon and Bingen, I floated the idea with a few guys at Rotary and with the Chamber board," Wyers said in April 1996. "So we've been putting together a steering committee and would like to see it expanded to be a general infusion of community self-esteem."
Others helping bring the idea to life at the time included Charli Erickson, then-vice president of the Chamber of Commerce.
"Hopefully we'll make it an annual event," Erickson said then.
The late Jack Henningsen, then a member of the Bingen City Council, also was supportive in getting the cleanup program under way. His comments in 1996 were especially accurate: "Sometimes it takes one person with an idea, and it starts working progressively from there," Henningsen said. "Once it's established, it moves on its own momentum."
Henningsen called it precisely right: The event certainly has taken on a lot of momentum, to the point where now it is a focal point of springtime in the Bingen-White Salmon area.
And the annual event is noticeably cleaning the community. Exhibit A has to be the junk tires that the event has collected and disposed of over the years. Who will ever forget the first year of the cleanup, when approximately 7,000 used tires of all sizes -- 60 tons worth -- were deposited in the dump site in the parking lot of what is now Riverview Bank. It cost Klickitat County approximately $8,000 to clean up the mountain of tires, but nevertheless, the volume of tires being pulled out of yards and fields throughout the area served to highlight the success of the event.
With all the tires and trash getting hauled out over the past few years, Wyers noted that the cleanup dump sites have been getting a lot fewer tires each year, presumably because most of them have been disposed of already.
Elsewhere, the event has sparked a better awareness of ways to make the community more attractive. For example, picking up trash, planting flowers, painting buildings, all have accelerated in recent years, and the community is benefiting as a result.
In short, the creators and sponsors of this event deserve our continuing appreciation and support. Remember to do what you can this year to clean up your business or residence, and help keep our little slice of paradise looking sharp.