April 25, 2012 —
Long-time residents of the borough said they haven’t seen anything like it. The turn out at the first Honesdale Clean and Green event took the organizers totally by surprise.
The state-wide clean-up to celebrate Earth Day was called the Great American Clean-up in Pennsylvania.
“We were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people—little kids, parents, families, church groups, boy and girl scouts, and more,” said Jeff Hiller, owner of the Trackside Grill, who is a leading member of the Greater Honesdale Partnership (GHP).
“It was totally a community effort like nothing seen before,” said Gail Tucker, director of the GHP.
Early on Saturday morning, crowds of people jammed into the auditorium of Grace Episcopal Church at 9th and Church streets. Inside, the people lined up to get their street assignments from Hiller, who gave people maps of the streets they were assigned. Hiller had prepared maps of the streets so that no street would be missed and that there were no duplications.
“We have gloves, red protective vests and bags for everyone, given by PennDOT,” Hiller said.
People were instructed to leave full bags at curbside for pick up by the Honesdale Department of Public Works, who later in the day took them to the Waste Management center in Beach Lake where the fee was waived.
Bags placed on the state highways were picked up by PennDOT, Tucker said.
Prizes were donated by local businesses and other supportive groups. The grand prize was a $1,500 John Deere lawn tractor donated by Lackawanna Emergency Ambulance Corps through Lindsay Equipment. Other prizes were donated by Gravity Ice Cream, the Leeward Company, Agway and Apple Day Spa.
“I’m not from Honesdale and I’m amazed at the community spirit that is being displayed here,” said Gene Hopkins, music teacher at the Honesdale Middle School. “It’s important that students see this extraordinary effort put out by the residents of their community. It’ll impress them.”
Even though most people had completed their cleaning tasks early, most of them returned to the parish house for a free lunch provided by Bob Zabady, owner of Ellen Memorial Health Care Center.
“This show of community spirit is just simply amazing,” said borough councilor Michael Slish. “It’s great for the borough.”