By Kaylee Lindenmuth | email@example.com
CENTRALIA, Columbia County - For the sixth year, about a hundred volunteers gathered Saturday at the Centralia Municipal Building on Locust Avenue before spreading across the borough and Conyngham Township, cleaning up litter and other items dumped in the area in the past year.
"It's not nearly as much as it's been," said Bobby Hughes, executive director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, which hosts the clean-up, regarding the amount of trash found this year.
Hughes said he believed efforts to surveil problem spots are working.
"We're going to come after you," he said, regarding dumpers in such areas. "Somebody who dumped a couch at the end of East Railroad, I think I'm going to have who that is on my camera, and if I have their plate, we're going to prosecute."
"We have to be more vigilant now that everything's cleaned up," Hughes added.
U.S. Representative Dan Meuser, a Republican serving PA's 9th District, which includes Shenandoah and Centralia, was on hand for Saturday's clean-up.
"It's very positive, from an image standpoint," Meuser told the Sentinel of the impact of the clean-up. "When it looks cleaner, it looks that much more inviting and welcoming."
"Everybody's really done some good work here today," Meuser added.
Hughes said that, next year, the hope is that the volunteer work can shift towards beautification, rather than clean-up.
"I'm hoping for next year, we could come in and plant some apple trees, something nice," said Hughes. "To let something else grow here and do something more for beautification, other than constantly being at the clean-up side of it, and then we can get into a regular maintenance mode for next year."
Hughes said there were about 100 volunteers, ranging from as close as Centralia itself and as far as Canada. Some were from Wayne County, some from Mount Carmel, and others were from Ohio.
Hughes described the turnout as "tremendous." He added that the clean-up had the assistance of a trio of Jeep enthusiast groups as well.
Volunteers wore bright orange shirts designating themselves as volunteers -- and standing out among tourists along Graffiti Highway -- embarking on different problem areas. By noon, several bags had been filled with discarded spray paint cans and brought back to the municipal building. Hughes said those cans would be recycled, earning money to go towards EPCAMR's efforts.
Meuser commended the efforts of the volunteers in combating the dumpers.
"Unfortunately, there are too many people that feel Centralia is a dumping ground. It's not, and it's going to be enforced," said Meuser. "Rather than just sit and complain about it, today's a day to help clean-up."
"Doing this sends a lot of signals, about how important Columbia County is, how important Pennsylvania is, how important Centralia is," Meuser added.
Hughes said in a Facebook post after the event that over 300 tires, a dozen TVs, at least 50 bags of spray paint cans, and over 50 cubic yards of trash were collected.
NEWS FROM YOUR TOWN
-East Union Township
-North Union Township
-West Mahanoy Township
-Beyond Northern Schuylkill