St. Johns Clean Community Event Draws 500

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By: Jordan Mueller

The annual Clinton County Clean Community event drew 500 residents to the free event on Saturday, helping them to rid themselves of household wastes.

Marilyn Vitek is a registered nurse who has volunteered at the event for the past three years. Vitek said she works at the medication station each year, where it is required that each volunteer have a medical background.

“Last year we filled two 55-gallon drums with controlled meds,” said Vitek. “We line the drums with protective materials and keep them in a controlled area, before they are incinerated.”

The event, put on by the Waste Management Department, is held each spring in St. Johns to jumpstart the community’s spring cleaning process. Residents from all over Clinton County drop off any recyclables and dispose of any waste materials that may have accumulated during the winter months.

Kate Neese is the Waste Management Department Coordinator for Clinton County and has been running the Clean Community events for over ten years.

“All of our residents must call and set up an appointment,” said Neese. “That way we know how many cars to expect and they are briefed ahead of time.”

Residents arrive to the event at their scheduled time and drive from station to station, disposing the proper waste there. In all, there are around nine stations that collect materials including used tires, magazines and books, used oil and antifreeze, and hazardous waste.

Clean Community volunteer, Mike Trebesh coordinates the traffic of the event, ensuring that there are no traffic jams.
“I direct each car to its station, like hazardous or electronic,” said Trebesh. “It depends on what they brought, but I have to keep the cars moving smoothly and efficiently.”

Trebesh said he will continue to volunteer each year the event continues because of the positive effect it has on the community.
“We try to clean everybody’s garage rather than have them dump it on the side of the road,” said Trebesh. “People still do that with sofas and other materials, so this gives them the opportunity to clean out the garage, clean out the barn, everything.”

Clinton County uses 75-100 volunteers to put on this event. Neese said a wide range of residents volunteer each year, including college professors, nurses, pharmacists, and many high school students who need volunteer hours.

“We take everything,” said Vitek, “Over the counter, prescriptions, controlled substances, you name it.”

Vitek said that when the residents of Clinton County begin their spring cleaning, they often find stacks of medicine that they want to get rid of.

Clinton County Resident Beverly Leonard said she believes this event makes the community look better.

“I feel better about getting the things away from my home like junk and trash and oil,” said Leonard.

Leonard said the organization of the event is what draws her in.

“Everything is so laid out and so neat, they make it easy,” said Leonard. “I hope they never quit this event. I hope they continue it.”

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