The sky was blue, the air was crisp and the sun was shining gloriously on our first community clean-up event. A dozen volunteers gathered at the Welcome to Rocky Ford Visitor Center near 2nd Street & Elm Avenue to kick-off The Small Town Project's inaugural event and clean up in preparation of the upcoming 142nd Annual Arkansas Valley Fair.
The event was planned and organized by our organization and promoted on local online platforms such as Facebook, Nextdoor and Instagram. Following a discussion with the Rocky Ford City Manager, Shannon Wallace, and Public Works Manager, Rick Long the City of Rocky Ford donated heavy-duty trash bags and committed to sending out city trucks to pick up full trash bags. Over the two-weeks prior to the event many interested community members shared our posts on social media and showed interest in the event.
On the day of the event volunteers met under a warm Arkansas Valley sun. In attendance were Beth Williams, Steven Carlile, Dustin Bryan, Morgan Bryan, Jordyn Bryan, Bethany Hawley, Jennifer, Duane Gurule, Elaine Gurule and Daylene Gurule. We checked in volunteers, assigned duties and split into several teams. With a primary goal of cleaning up trash and debris along Rocky Ford's Elm Avenue which runs eastbound through town following the U.S. Highway 50 route toward La Junta, Colorado volunteers commenced eastbound on a trash scavenger hunt.
During the trek eastward siblings Margarito and Maria Garcia joined the volunteers with landscaping equipment and volunteered to clean up weeds surrounding a vacant home on the corner of 8th Street & Elm Avenue. Clearing overgrown weeds along these major arteries is a future goal of The Small Town Project so this came as a great start to what we can do as a community.
Volunteer offered a great suggestion the clean-up plans and decided to modify the route to turn at Main Street and continue over to Swink Avenue where we eventually headed back west toward our starting point. Along the way several interesting items were found such as nuts, bolts, and hubcaps. Some other typical items were found such as plastic bottles, broken glass bottles, and cigarette butts. Of the items collected of the most frequently found were plastic drinking straws of every color. We were intrigued to realize that plastic straws were really such a big contributor to the litter problem and found a first-hand understanding of the recent legislation to ban plastic straws in cities like Seattle, New York, and San Francisco.
Overall volunteers filled five large 39-gallon trash bags with an estimated weight of 100-pounds. Thanks to the support of the City of Rocky Ford this trash will soon find its home at the Otero County Landfill.
The Small Town Project will be following this clean-up project on Sunday, August 11th at 2:00 pm to continue clean-up along Elm Avenue and Swink Avenue on Rocky Ford's east end. Thank you to all our volunteers and we look forward to a future of great community involved events like this one.