The Kutztown Environmental Advisory Commission hosted a Community Cleanup Event along the Sacony Creek on Saturday, March 13.
Volunteers gathered trash along the western bank of the Sacony Creek between Main Street and Normal Avenue, filling 17 bags of trash and two 55-gallon drums of recyclables.
“The core reason for the cleanup is to collect garbage and litter from this stretch before it enters the Sacony Creek,” said Warren E. Shaub of the Kutztown EAC. “This simple act will prevent ecological damage to both ours and neighboring communities downstream. Having this event in early March allows the cleanup to occur before new growth sets in, making the task easier.”
A call for volunteers went out to the community.
“Initially Mayor Jim Schlegel, an enormous proponent of these activities, reached out to the local service clubs,” said Shaub.
The event was listed on social media, and a few flyers were placed at locations in Kutztown.
“There was a significant response to the announcement, and plans for the first cleanup event of the year were put in motion.”
This being his first event to organize, Shaub had no expectations concerning attendance especially considering the early start time on a rather cold Saturday morning.
“Arrive they did however, and it was no small satisfaction to see over two dozen volunteers arrive to the shopping center parking lot on Constitution Boulevard.”
A total of 27 volunteers of varying age and affiliations participated, including the Rotary and Optimist Clubs, Scouts, National Honor Society and local residents from the Borough of Kutztown and the surrounding region.
A little past 8 a.m., more than two dozen people walked south down Constitution to Normal Avenue and turned east to the bridge crossing the Sacony in front of the Kutztown Elementary School. From there the group turned north and followed the contours of the western bank of the creek picking up trash along the way.
“The creek curves west along the rear of several properties on Normal Avenue and flows toward and then along Constitution Boulevard. This is where the more difficult and hazardous part of the cleanup began as the volunteers moved along the edge of the road clearing as they went,” said Shaub. “The operation was efficient enough to be able to reclaim recyclable goods from the haul.”
By 9:15 a.m., the group had reached the bridge on Main Street crossing the Sacony.
“Due to the early hour, the decision was made to send the group up Main Street to the intersection of Whiteoak and then have them return to the shopping center parking lot via Sander Alley, collecting trash along the way,” he said.
Volunteers returned to the lot by 10 a.m. and the job was done.
“Seventeen bags of trash and two 55-gallon drums of recycled goods the fruit of their labor.”
Shaub feels that the cleanup went extremely well.
“Over the years, I have picked up a lot of trash, but organizing a community cleanup along a busy roadway is a completely different matter,” he said. “The rate at which the volunteers cleared the embankment kept me very busy in a supporting role. Loading bags of trash, emptying bins of recycling, and moving the truck that was being utilized as a blocker vehicle to help protect volunteers from oncoming traffic kept me on the move.”
“I knew a properly hosted event would allow volunteers to do the job they came for, make volunteering easy, and with the right group even enjoyable,” continued Shaub. “I think the most significant thing to me was the willingness of the public to participate. It was a great comfort to know that our local community values our environment enough to put their personal time and effort in.”
“Our Mayor Jim already knew this and the swift, overwhelming success of the cleanup was a direct result of his sourcing of help,” he added. “I want to personally thank all of the participants in the cleanup for being a part of the solution.”
"Cleanups like these are important for the environmental health of the Saucony Creek and the town in general. It also helps to keep Kutztown looking like a nice, clean place to visit and live," said Schlegel. "I was very impressed with the amount of volunteers who came out to give of their free time to help keep Kutztown looking good and helping with the environment."
Schlegel noted that there were representatives from service organizations, Scouts, the high school honor society and individual citizens who take pride in their town.
"I like when the folks of Kutztown come out to volunteer with community projects," said Schlegel. "It shows how the citizens really care about Kutztown. I hope they can all get together in the future to help keep Kutztown an agreeable and nice place to live."
The Kutztown EAC is planning another cleanup for April 17 with a continued focus on the Sacony Creek.