ELLSWORTH — While Saturday, April 23, was technically the day after Earth Day, residents and organizations captured the spirit of the day by cleaning up various parts of the city.
Several events were organized, starting at 8 am, which gave residents plenty of options to choose from if they were looking to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
The first event was a clean-up at the Woodlawn Museum, where volunteers and staff focused on clearing debris from the sides of the main roadway entrance as well as picking up any wayward trash that may have fallen out of visitors’ pockets over the winter.
This clean-up is an annual event first organized by the museum’s caretaker, Richard Tupper. Tupper spent his morning operating a large, truck-mounted debris loader donated by John Wood from Wood and Sons Lawn Care.
Tupper was assisted in this task by his daughter, Heather Tupper, who owns Legend Athletics, along with two members of the gym, Olivia Leighton and Jaylin Burpee.
“I’m really proud of the girls who came out today to help,” said Heather. “It’s important to give back to the community when you can.”
Woodlawn Executive Director Kathy Young saw the clean-up as an excellent chance to jumpstart the season.
“We have a lot of exciting stuff that’s going to start happening very soon,” Young said. “We start construction on the new barn beginning June 1, the croquet field will be opening June 1 as well, and the museum itself opens June 23, among other things. So, the board and I are really grateful for everyone who came out today to help.”
The annual Card Brook Clean-up organized by the city of Ellsworth in partnership with the University of Maine at Augusta Ellsworth Center and Green Ellsworth, kicked off at 9:30 am in the Hannaford parking lot. At least two dozen volunteers, including a large contingent from UMA, were lent reflective vests, gloves and trash-grabbers before heading out to beautify the brook.
“It’s a surprisingly beautiful stream that flows into the Union River and then out into the ocean,” explained City Planner Elena Piekut, who helped organize the volunteers along with Development Services Coordinator Kerri Taylor. “But it’s also an Urban Impaired Stream, which is a designation by the DEP that means it’s not meeting the water quality standards for that class of stream. And that’s one of the reasons that we have this clean-up every year, to draw attention to that issue.”
Piekut explained that because the stream converges in one of the more developed areas of the city, it accumulates a surprising amount of litter. Last year’s clean-up collected over 1,100 pounds of trash, according to Piekut, which is one of the reasons she said that the city was grateful for the work of the volunteers. “Many hands make light work!”
Saturday also was the kickoff of the fifth annual Roadside Clean-up, organized by the Ellsworth Green Action Team in conjunction with the city. This is a week-long event, so there is still time to head to City Hall, grab some yellow trash bags and sign up for a specific section of the road to clean. Once you’ve filled your bags, you can leave them by the side of the road and call Public Works to have them collected.
Chances are you’ll have trouble filling as many bags as Trenton resident Bob Peppler, who signed up to clean a mile and a half of Bayside Road from Trenton toward Ellsworth. Peppler, who got an early start on Saturday, filled 10 yellow bags before Green Action Team members had even set up their table at City Hall. Peppler said he did this last year as well and plans to do the Trenton side of the road when they hold their clean-up later this month.
“The little Fireball bottles are the most popular thing I’ve found,” Peppler explained. But he’s found everything from empty vape canisters to Red Bull cans to tins of chewing tobacco.
“Sometimes I’ll find a bottle that I’ll have to hold at arm’s length and just try not to think about what’s in it while I bag it,” he said.
Most, if not all, of the trash along the city’s roadsides comes from motorists who discard items out of their car windows as they drive along. Ed, a resident along Bayside Road who did not wish for his last name to be used in this article, says he comes out to clean his section of the Bayside Road almost every day. And he also cleans the woods behind his house where people go to dump larger things like construction debris.
“The problem is that people think if you don’t own something, you don’t have to protect it. You don’t have to be a part of it in any way,” Ed explained, discussing the city’s public roads. “But you do own it. We all own it. We have to get people thinking ecologically. We have to get them to understand that this is their world, too.”