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It's Spring Cleanup Time Again

Community event is 10 years old

When April wildflowers bloom, it's a sure sign that the annual Community Pride Cleanup Week campaign is about to happen once again.

This year, the event will kick off on April 25 and continue through May 1.

"It's a well-oiled machine now," said Debra Reed of the Mount Adams Chamber of Commerce, one of the sponsors of the event. "It's all volunteer, from all segments of the community."

The cleanup gets into high gear beginning Friday, April 29. On that day, from noon to 4 p.m., the collection site -- on Lakeview Road directly east of the water treatment plant in Bingen -- will be open to residents to begin dropping off material. On Saturday and Sunday (April 30-May 1), the collection site will be open 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

"The city of Bingen has really stepped up by allowing us to use that site. It really works nicely," said Teunis Wyers, founder of the event and its coordinator since its inception 10 years ago. "And Riley Bros. loaned us the concrete blocks for the retaining wall. There's been a lot of community effort."

A long list of items will be accepted once the collection site opens on April 29, including scrap metal, recyclables, old household appliance, brush and yard waste, and building materials. Tires will be accepted for a fee.

Hazardous materials such as paint, batteries, or automotive liquids cannot be accepted.

Wyers reflected on the fact that the Community Pride Week program has thrived for a full decade.

"It was the flood of 1996 that started all this," Wyers recalled. "We had an awful winter, and the town was full of brush and debris. I thought it would be a good idea to clean it all up. That it has continued for so long is a matter of personal pride and satisfaction to me."

Wyers added that he is concerned about the long-term impacts of the closing of the county's brush processing sites.

"We've decided we'll take what people bring, but it will be going to the landfill. We won't be able to process it into chips as we have in the past," Wyers explained. "That's an issue that really frustrates me."

One unusual offshoot of this year's cleanup campaign will be a project being coordinated by Dean July of the Northwest Service Academy. July will lead an effort to stencil storm drains around White Salmon with the message, "Dump No Waste -- Drains to Stream." The idea is to increase awareness that whatever people pour into storm drains ends up getting into our rivers and streams.

July pointed out that the stenciling was done five or six years ago, but the messages have worn off.

Boy Scouts from Pack 384 have volunteered to spearhead the painting project, and students from the high school are also likely to join in.

The painting is planned for Saturday, April 30.

"It's an opportunity to get the kids involved, and the city benefits from it as well," July explained. "The Boy Scouts are pretty enthused about it. They were looking for a public service project to do."

July explained that there are approximately 70 storm drains in the White Salmon area, and his teams will try to paint them all.

"How many we'll get done, I'm not sure. Weather permitting, we'll do as many as we can in that day," July said.

In addition to the Northwest Service Academy, the stenciling project is being sponsored by the Underwood Conservation District, the city of White Salmon, and Jewett Creek Streamkeepers.

July requested that motorists avoid parking near storm drains on April 30.

In addition, the city of White Salmon will be holding its surplus property sale to coincide with the cleanup events. During the week of April 25-29, residents can come to the White Salmon city shop, behind the fire station at 220 NE Tohomish, to view the surplus items. Included are a variety of items, from pickup trucks and a police car to weed-eaters, computer equipment, and bicycles.

Sealed bids for the surplus goods can be taken to the City Hall from May 2-6. The bids will be opened at 10 a.m. on May 9; the highest bidders will then be contacted.

White Salmon City Hall is also coordinating a cleanup brigade of freshmen students from Columbia High School. Approximately 120 kids, in six groups of 20 each, will fan out across the community from White Salmon to Bingen to the Port of Klickitat and the Heritage Center's Park & Ride facility. They will wash windows, pick up trash, and tackle raking and weeding projects in the parks.

"They will be bused to different areas, and we'll find things for them to do," said Margie Ziegler, deputy clerk at White Salmon City Hall. "They will be putting a spit shine on the whole place."

Ziegler added that the city staff hopes to be able to join in the cleanup campaign.

"We're going to ask if we can close the office one day, because we all want to be out there helping out," Ziegler said.

For its part, the Bingen Public Works Department will offer free curbside pickup for as many as five trash bags filled with yard debris.

"Residents have to bag it, then put it by the road and we'll pick it up," said Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel.

Wyers said he was confident the week's cleanup activities would run efficiently.

"I'm looking forward to another good event," Wyers said.

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