TERRE HAUTE —
About 100 volunteers spiffed up the city Saturday morning during the 10th annual Cleanup Terre Haute event.
With the weather cooperating to bring sunny skies to the efforts, volunteers pulled on gloves and grabbed plastic bags to sort the garbage and recyclables as they moved through the alleys and streets.
“I’ve got lots of plastic and aluminum trash, and milk jugs,” said volunteer Cathy Pilant as she opened her recycling bag.
“This is the cleanest area we’ve ever found,” Carol Waltersdorf added as the group finished its assigned cleanup area around 10th Street and Grand Avenue. “I’ve done some cleanups where it took a couple hours.”
Saturday’s organized effort by Keep Terre Haute Beautiful, a subgroup of Trees Inc., covered an area bounded by Eighth Street on the west, Collett Avenue and North Avenue on the north, 16th Street on the east and Ash Avenue on the south.
Organizer Armeen Williams, director of Keep Terre Haute Beautiful, explained that a litter index survey of the city was conducted to determine what areas of the city had the highest litter index. Then with the assistance of Republic Services for trash removal, as well as the City of Terre Haute, the KTHB group rounded up donations of snacks and bottled water, as well as bags for the collected refuse.
Longtime volunteer Mary Harris said she has been participating in the cleanup day since it began 10 years ago and has learned that all neighborhoods have their litter problems.
“I’m a member of Trees Inc., and I believe in keeping Terre Haute clean,” Harris said. “It amazes me that we go around and clean up an area, and it’s not bad when we leave. But then I go back home, where I think I live in a nice area, and I can find just as much trash in my own neighborhood.”
She said she can understand the frustration that some people must have in getting rid of unwanted items. She said she once found a couch that was propped up against a telephone pole. It was a wet rainy day, and getting that couch moved out of the alley took a lot of effort.
John Woelfle grew up in the Twelve Points area, where the group organized Saturday in the parking lot of the former Merchants Bank.
As a member of Trees Inc. since it organized 21 years ago, Woelfle said it’s important to keep the city’s environment in good shape.
“A clean city helps with economic development, and I think that’s the bottom line,” he said. “And it’s a quality-of-life issue.”
Several of Saturday’s volunteers were in the school-age demographic. A science class from Otter Creek Middle School sent 14 students to participate. Their time counted toward a required 12 hours of community service.
Football coach Chris Barrett from Terre Haute North Vigo High School brought five team members to the cleanup. They had finished their second round of trash-picking by 9:23 a.m.
Other cleanup crews included 4-H members, Girl Scouts and some family groups sharing together time.
Williams said she was pleased with the turnout and the enthusiasm of the volunteers. Cleanups are conducted twice a year.
Even Mayor Duke Bennett wore a florescent green T-shirt as part of a clean city crew.
“If we keep the trash picked up, people won’t add to it,” he said. “If we don’t keep the city clean, people won’t care, either.”
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.