You can tell a lot about a community by its trash. In this case, that's a good thing, as the annual Community Pride Cleanup Week once again helped spruce up the area.
Over the weekend, about 125 volunteers unloaded approximately 1,000 vehicle loads of trash and recyclable items at the collection site in Bingen. Area residents brought discarded tires, old computers, yard debris, scrap metal, used clothing, and many other items, which were then routed to the appropriate station for disposal.
Four large containers -- the huge industrial ones like you see passing by on freight trains -- were filled up and hauled to the landfill in Roosevelt. But that was just the trash.
The real action was with the recycling efforts. Metal was recycled. Small engines were collected so they could be refurbished and employed again on lawnmowers or put to other uses. Hood River High School took in about 30 old bicycles so they could revamp them and give them away to youngsters who don't have a bike.
In a new and innovative recycling effort this year, Bingen-based Insitu organized an effort that ended up bringing dozens of old computers and monitors out of closets and basements and to the collection site for recycling.
"This is the first time Insitu has been directly involved," said Lillian Mongeau, who organizes Insitu's "Green Program." "We had close to 15 employees volunteer their time in two-hour shifts to make the event go smoothly."
Mongeau said Insitu collected nine truckloads of mixed electronic goods over the weekend, including computers, phones, answering machines, TVs, monitors, keyboards, etc. A Vancouver recycling company picked up most of the items on Monday.
"We are donating the CPUs to STRUT -- Students Recycling Used Technology -- in The Dalles," Mongeau added.
Marsha Holliston, manager of the Mount Adams Chamber of Commerce, one of the cleanup event's sponsors, said the organizers have refined the process over the previous 11 years since the community cleanup campaign kicked off.
"This was the most efficient event we've ever had," Holliston said. "We changed the traffic patterns and where the stations were located, and it really worked well."
Volunteers drove around the community and picked up about 20 loads of material from elderly residents or those without trucks to haul trash or yard debris for themselves.
Even the weather contributed to the success of the cause, as it was not excessively windy or hot this year.
"Saturday was a little rainy, but that meant SDS didn't have to go through with their water truck as much to keep the dust down," Holliston said. "They had to spray just one time on Sunday, and it worked out great."
Only about 100 tires were brought in this year. Holliston said that figure was down slightly from last year's total.
"Definitely fewer tires than last year. We've got most of the fields cleaned out," Holliston joked.
Holliston pointed out that there were many contributors to the program. Food, water, ice, pop, gasoline, and other items were among the services provided to help the endeavor. Businesses helping out included Solstice Cafe, Mcdonald's Beneventi's, Los Reyes, Subway (Hood River), Thriftway, SDS Lumber Co., Hunsaker Oil, Wilcox & Flegel, Heidi's, Hi-School Pharmacy, Mountain Fresh H20, and the Wine Merchants.
"And a big thanks to Rotary and all the volunteers. It was just perfect this year," Holliston said.
Organizers are already planning to make things even better in 2009.
"We want to have a chipper next year," Holliston explained. "We're desperately looking for one so less debris will be going to the landfill."
The primary sponsors of the annual cleanup event are Bingen-White Salmon Rotary, the Mount Adams Chamber of Commerce, Klickitat County Solid Waste Department, and Allied Waste in Roosevelt.