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For the 34th year in a row, volunteers will take to the streets, neighborhoods, wooded areas and public spaces in James City County on two upcoming Saturdays to clean up.
The James City Clean County Commission’s 2015 spring cleanup is set for 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 11 and 18, with commission members hoping to surpass last year’s total of 117 tons of garbage collected by volunteers throughout the county.
During those hours, volunteers can bring bagged garbage from cleanup sites to the Jolly Pond Convenience Center for free. Household garbage is not accepted as part of the cleanup.
The commission comprises eight citizen volunteers appointed by the board of supervisors. It manages the cleanup by assigning volunteer groups to areas throughout the county. Twenty groups signed up by the April 1 deadline, however smaller groups and individuals can still get involved and receive an assignment to one of several hotspots the commission has identified as places in need of garbage pickup.
Much of the garbage that accumulates around the county consists of bottles, wrappers and cigarettes, according to Commission member Kensett Teller.
“It’s usually people getting rid of the evidence when they go home,” she said.
But while food and cigarette waste make up the majority of what is found, there is plenty of other rubbish scattered throughout the county. Last year, volunteers found 1,268 tires during the cleanup. Four commercial-grade air conditioners were found in a ravine off Croaker Road. Furniture and toilets are also out there.
Commission Co-Chairman Will Holmes said residents might not know heavier waste such as appliances, scrap metal and lawn mowers can be disposed of for free year-round at the Jolly Pond Convenience Center, leading them to dispose of the unwanted waste in the woods or on a vacant lot. For a full breakdown of what is free to dump and what costs money, visit the county’s Solid Waste website.
The cleanup has been an annual event in James City County since 1979. Commission co-chairwoman Peg Boarman was involved in the first cleanup. She said volunteers left the garbage bags on the side of the road for them to be picked up by members of the Virginia National Guard.
Now the event has become one of the commission’s signature programs. The commission was honored earlier this year by outgoing James City County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Mary Jones (Berkeley) for its work to educate people about the need to keep the county clean.
Teller said the commission’s ultimate goal is litter prevention. To help achieve that goal, the board of supervisors has declared April as litter prevention month in James City County.
To participate in either of the upcoming Saturday cleanups, contact James City County Environmental Coordinator Dawn Oleksy by calling 259-5375 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Oleksy said she will assign volunteers to commission-identified litter hot spots such as the ponds behind the Warhill Sports Complex or Centerville Road near Forest Glen.
Anyone who participates in the cleanup is encouraged to wear gloves, long pants and bright clothing, especially if working near a road. Volunteers should use tick spray and bring water to drink during the cleanup.