BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Once again they descended on the streets of Fort Madison with big white and orange bags, in groups as small as one and as many as 10, to give a few hours to spruce up their community.
More than 80 people met at Central Park Saturday morning as part of the Fort Madison Chamber of Commerce’s annual City-wide Clean Up. Groups took maps and dispersed across the city to take on city blocks, parks, creeks, and ditches to pick up what others thought was OK to leave for others.
Fort Madison Chamber Coordinator Savanna Colllier was all smiles at the number of people who showed up to volunteer three hours for the city.
“I think we had about 85 people and our largest groups were from Holy Trinity, Fort Madison High School, and Hy-Vee, which is really cool,” she said. “This has been going on for many years, but the weather is great. I was so worried about that.”
The day was organized by the Fort Madison Chamber, but several local companies stepped up to provide supplies and resources for the event including Scotts Miracle Gro, Mid American Energy, and Thomas Klann State Farm Insurance. Hy-Vee donated a hot-dog lunch for all the participants at Central Park when the clean up ended at noon.
Collier said the annual event continues to be a source of pride for the community.
“Everyone kept saying the turnout was better than the past and the weather is almost perfect,” Collier said. “Even if we just had 10 people we’d be happy, but close to 90.. I’m very pleased. Just picking up our community gives us that sense of pride, that we’re doing something good. It’s unfortunate that it’s only one day.”
She said the event is a success every year and is done in conjunction with national Earth Day, but she said if she could improve on the project it would be to add a day.
“I think this has been going very well, but I’d like to see us do two a year – one in the spring and one in the fall just to keep the momentum going. It doesn’t take a whole lot to get organized,” she said.
A group of about 12 Hy-Vee employees and their families crawled around Dry Creek pulling all kinds of trash from the creek sides and bed. One girl in the group happily reported she had found a shoe. The bags filled up so quickly at that site, one member went over to the Hy-Vee store to get a roll of trash bags to continue the cleaning.
Mayor Brad Randolph pulled solo duty working 20th Street along Business 61. HTC Principal Michael Sheerin led a group of about 10 HTC students and parents at the intersection of 48th Street and Avenue O.
Collier said she divided the city into sections with maps from previous years and sent groups to different areas keeping younger students in the parks and and away from highways. She said she also took some time driving around the community to find trouble spots.
The thing that impressed her the most about this year’s, was a couple people not associated with any group who came in to help.
“We had a couple people just come out and help set and register. They said they saw it in the paper and wanted to come out and help. They said, ‘we’re just citizens and wanted to help’…and that’s just fantastic when we see that kind of thing.”