Say ‘goodbye, garbage’

Anna Anderson · Wednesday, April 30, 2014
The city of West Liberty is a cleaner place after a citywide cleanup on Saturday.

Early Saturday morning a group of about 40 residents gathered at Ron-de-Voo park to collect gloves and waste bags—and to fuel up on coffee and donuts—before spreading out and working their way back to the park, leaving clean streets in their wake.

The WL Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event, with individual teams sponsored by the local schools, West Liberty State Bank and the 176th Committee.

Dan Stevenson led a group of students down Miller Street, all wearing blue gloves and some carrying large brown paper waste bags. Stevenson, an eighth grade teacher and student council advisor, said the council sponsors a group of students every year, a tradition going back several years. The students volunteer.

“They get a treat, but no school credit,” he said.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Ryan Mercado said. “I’m a Boy Scout.” His friend Christian Dominguez said he was there because he had no other plans, but Daniel Miles, an elementary school student walking nearby, said he had a lot of things to do. His dad made him participate.

Brianna Villerreal and Abby Jacques, both middle school students, said the project helped the earth. Their classmate Kennedy McNaul brought that point close to home. “It’s nice that our community won’t have a lot of trash everywhere,” McNaul said.

By mid-morning the school group cleared the street of cigarette butts, a stash of beer cans, a gasoline tank cap, a Chuck E. Cheese’s toy, a Little Mermaid figurine and a Batman figurine, not to mention items recognizable only as “trash.” They even found the broken shell of a robin’s egg.

Five-and-a-half-year-old homeschool student Beckham Simon worked with the group walking along West Liberty Foods. He made a collection of turkey feathers. “It’s kind of like a science thing,” he said.

Pamela Romero said it was nice to get kids involved in the project. Romero and her daughter, Denisse, walking in the group sponsored by West Liberty State Bank, said they found it a good time to talk. “We’re just chatting here,” Romero said, as they worked their way down an alley near North Spencer Street.

Romero said they ran into a family who wanted to join the cleanup when they heard what was happening. She gave them an extra waste bag and they started off on their own.

The cleanup volunteers weren’t the only ones cleaning up on Saturday. Garage sale signs dotted street corners and bargain hunters were out in full force.

Isaac Harris and Elizabeth Colon were having a moving sale. Harris said he hadn’t known about the citywide cleanup beforehand. “This is the first project I’ve seen West Liberty do as a community,” he said.

West Liberty can feel isolated, he said, with little to do other than the races and the county fair. “This is definitely good for the community,” he said. “Anytime you can get people together it’s for the better.”

Outside the elementary school, Jose Sanchez waited with his family before leaving for a soccer game in Iowa City. “I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “It makes me proud being a part of this community.”
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