By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
It started as a response to a letter to the editor challenging Washingtonians to clean up their trash in the downtown. Now, 10 years later, organizers Craig Davis and Joe McConnell are still seeing the changes in the area from their yearly cleanups around the square.
The two area attorneys have both seen the overall look of the area, especially the alleys, change. McConnell said he recently did a walk-through of the downtown area and noted that there aren?t many bigger items in alleys. He said that there are many smaller pieces of trash,
?People aren?t stacking a lot of junk out in the alleys like they used to,? he said. ?I don?t see large items nearly as much. That is pleasing to see. I?ve been in other communities where the alleys are pretty trecherous. It?s nice to walk around and see that things have improved.?
Each year the push is to clean several problem areas of Washington, including around the square. Each year Washingtonians volunteer two hours of their time on a Saturday morning to give areas of Washington a good cleaning. On Saturday, April 28 from 8 to 10 a.m., the tradition continues.
For the last several years both Davis and McConnell have noticed the amount of trash being collected has declined and the alleys are better than they used to be. They credit the people who come out every year to help make Washington more presentable. Davis said volunteers will meet at the bandshell in Central Park and would split into groups that are assigned to a specific quadrant in the downtown area.
?Some people look forward to it,? Davis said. ?They see me on the street and ask when we are going to do that again.?
Anyone wishing to help can go to the bandshell in Central Park for refreshments before the event. McConnell stressed the cleanup is only two hours of a volunteer?s time and greatly helps the community.
The two are hoping for a good turnout, saying each year over 50 people volunteer to help with the cleanup, with about 100 people volunteering one year.
Volunteers are also encouraged to wear protective gear, such as gloves and eyewear. Volunteers should also bring tools such as shovels, brooms, and dustpans. Pickup trucks would also be greatly appreciated, because they can be filled and used to move debris and trash bags.
?We always hope for some new volunteers,? McConnell said. ?Hopefully some new people show up.?
Beginning in 2015, the waste collected was moved off the square and to the vacant lot next to the Lloyd, McConnell, Davis and Lujan building in the 200 block of West Washington Street. This is where the drop-off will be again this year. A dumpster will be supplied for trash that is picked up.
The idea for the cleanup was due to a letter to the editor from Susan See and printed in The Washington Evening Journal, in which she issued a challenge to Washingtonians to clean up trash.