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Commonwealth Cleanup Week starts this weekend

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By Calen McKinney

Those wanting to pitch in and "spring clean" their community have several chances to do just that.

This weekend marks the beginning of the 16th annual Commonwealth Cleanup Week, and Taylor Countians will once again participate.

Debra McNear, the county's solid waste coordinator, says the weeklong event is designed to allow residents to join with civic, religious and other nonprofit groups to clean up their communities. Those who participate will be entered to win one of several $100 cash drawings.

Those who want to participate in the Commonwealth Cleanup should call McNear at (270) 465-7729 or visit her office at the Taylor County Courthouse. Some paperwork is required.

During last year's cleanup week, more than 24,000 Kentucky residents participated and picked up 46,930 bags of trash and 3,657 tires along 1,816 miles of roadway.

Cleanup week is sponsored by the Kentucky Division of Waste Management and also kicks off the Great American Cleanup, which is March 1 through May 31.

This week is also Adopt-a-Highway Spring Clean Week, sponsored each year by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and next month is PRIDE Month.

McNear said any group in the community is welcome to adopt a highway to clean or participate in the Commonwealth Cleanup event. She said, the county receives some money to pay school and church groups to clean up roadways. That funding is always limited to how many groups volunteer, she said, and how much the state awards each county.

McNear said there aren't as many illegal dumps today as there were several years ago, and officials want to make sure it stays that way. Pitching in during cleanup week is one way to do that, she said.

The last large illegal dump was found about six years ago.

"There's still probably some that we're missing," she said.

Participating in cleanup week, McNear said, shows that residents are concerned about how their community looks. And that can have many benefits, she said.

"It shows businesses, 'Hey, they take pride,'" she said.

Cleanliness of a community, McNear said, is a large factor when a new business is considering a community in which to locate.

She said the Taylor County community has participated in cleanup week for more than 10 years, and she hopes that continues.

"[The goal] is to support your own community, but also the state," she said.

Participation in cleanup week varies, McNear said, from 15 to 20 groups each year. Weather can impact participation, but recent storms have created extra debris that needs cleaning.

Several people have already called about participating in this year's cleanup, McNear said. Church and school groups and those looking for community service opportunities typically make up the lineup of those pitching in, and several participate each year, she said.

Those volunteering to help will be assigned a county road to clean. That's because Taylor County Detention Center inmates clean roads maintained by Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials on an almost daily basis.

"Certainly state roads get bombarded all the time," McNear said. "You could clean it today and tomorrow ... "

McNear said she believes it's important that residents pitch in to make their community a cleaner place to live.

Participating in the cleanup is also a way to make sure your community puts its best foot forward for visitors - who might someday decide to become Taylor County residents.

County government will sponsor its annual cleanup event at the former Fruit of the Loom site in coming weeks, McNear said. Final details haven't been set.

McNear said that cleanup is very popular with residents who want to get rid of some of their unwanted items. Magistrates discussed the cleanup last week and agreed to host it, though the county likely won't receive any funding help from PRIDE as it typically does. The cleanup costs about $20,000, when considering the cost of salaries and disposal costs.

Hazardous materials won't be accepted, nor will stone, brick or household garbage.

For those who don't want to wait until that cleanup, vouchers to take a load of items to the Waste Connections site are available any time at McNear’s office. They cost $15 each.