Tenth Annual Keep Mercer Clean campaign ends today


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Garbage and junk weighing more than a tank were collected this year in one of the most successful community cleanup campaigns Mercer County has ever seen.

Today is the final day of the 10th annual Love Where You Live — Keep Mercer Clean Clean campaign. This year's campaign started March 20 and concludes today.

The Mercer Community Commission will get an official debriefing about the campaign's conclusion when it meets on May 15, but it's been very successful, said Greg Puckett, executive director of Community Connections, Inc. Puckett is also a member of the commission.

Besides cleaning up trash, the campaign helped the public learn more about the importance of not littering or creating illegal trash dumps. Efforts such as the Trash 2 Treasure contest in which students used recycled materials to create artworks was a success, he said.

"We got a lot of information out to the schools and the community," Puckett said. "Every single thing we targeted this year was successful."

Groups of volunteers organized to clean up roadsides across the county. The Keep Mercer Clean campaign also offered free garage disposal at area schools. Large dumpsters were placed where the public could leave trash and junk such as accumulated solid waste, large appliances, air conditioners and other household items. There were also free days at the Mercer County Landfill when the public could dispose of mattresses and electronics.

The public also had opportunities to dispose of used tires free of charge. Tires are one of the most common items found dumped into area streams and over embankments at illegal trash dumps. There were two days when the county landfill accepted tires free of charge.

Puckett looked up the total amounts of trash and junk that were collected.

A total of 77.41 tons of debris were deposited in dumpsters stationed at Spanishburg School, Lashmeet/Matoaka School, Brushfork School, PikeView High School and Oakvale School, Puckett said.

For comparison, an M1 Abrams main battle tank weighs about 55 tons, according to the information at the First Division Museum in Illinois.

"At the dumpsters themselves, people in the community would always say thank you so much for doing this," Puckett said. "We had everything from household garbage and decking material. We had everything dropped off. Cat towers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners. You name it, we had it."

The community's response to having locations for dropping off garbage demonstrated how much the county needs them, he said. There are times when households don't have access to trash pickups or ways to get their debris to the county landfill.

"It was extraordinary to see people using these dumpsters. It solidifies that fact that we need remote locations for dropping off trash," Puckett said, adding that he planned to speak with the county's Solid Waste Authority to see what can be done.

Local community cleanup efforts collected 8,900 pounds of trash, Puckett said. The two days of free tire collections brought in 1,843 tires.

"It was great," he said about Keep Mercer Clean's results. "I'm very excited the way this year came out."

Partners in this year's Keep Mercer Clean campaign included the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and the following organizations: Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias; Mercer County Dilapidated Structures Program; Mercer County Economic Development Authority; Mercer County Emergency Management; Lusk Disposal; Mercer County Schools; Mercer County Day Report Center; Mercer County Circuit Court; Mercer County Commission; Mercer County Litter Control; Mercer County Recycling Program; Mercer County Solid Waste Authority; area municipalities; Fly By Nite; and the Mercer County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com