Cleanup crews put a big dent in local litter

By William P. Thompson: William_Thompson@link.freedom.com

A wide array of trash and junk was picked up from alongside Portales streets and yards Saturday as city officials and the Roosevelt Chamber of Commerce held the city’s fourth annual Great American Cleanup. Amie Franz of the chamber said about 200 area residents helped out in the litter pickup.

“Everybody seemed really pumped up this morning,” Franz said. “People had been calling for weeks asking about it.”

Portales Girl Scout leader Leona Lopez walked with a group of Girl Scouts down South Chicago Avenue picking up trash Saturday morning. She said she was a little disgusted by all the trash found along the street rather than in trash cans or dumpsters where it should have been.

“It’s kind of sad that people litter this much,” Lopez said. “A lot of this is stuff that is just tossed (out of vehicle windows). Most of it is not biodegradable.”

Portales Junior High School student Rebecca Garza said she has become interested in the environment, so she was eager to hit the streets with an empty trash bag.

“People don’t care about the environment,” Garza said. “They just throw the trash out. People are lazy these days. If you see something lying in the middle of the road that doesn’t belong there you should pick it up and throw it in the trash.”

A contingent of Eastern New Mexico University football players fanned out through western Portales neighborhoods picking up trash. Team member Bobby Reed said the players just wanted to give back to the community that supports their team. An old tire discarded in an alley and a dead snake were a couple of items his group found during the cleanup.

“Some of the streets were cleaner than others,” he said.
Football player J.J. Ortiz’ group found a dead chicken.
“It seems that certain neighborhoods just don’t care (about debris along the streets),” he said.

Christie Carter participated in the cleanup with her fellow employees of Portales National Bank. Her group found cans, beer bottles, a wrench, a hubcap and shingles discarded along Kilgore Avenue.

“You notice more trash when you’re doing the cleanup,” Carter said. “Portales is still clean compared to other places in New Mexico I’ve been to.”

Wanda Walker and her great granddaughter Cambrea Cole, 6, picked up trash along the fence around Steiner Elementary. Cambrea said she was happy to pick up trash. Walker said she hoped Cambrea would start picking up trash more often around home now that she has become more environmentally aware.

A student group from ENMU, the “presidents and ambassadors,” won the scavenger hunt at the cleanup by finding at least one example each of 30 specific items including a CD, a baby bottle, bones and roadkill, a couch or chair, and various everyday items like soda cans, and old clothing items.

Eastern New Mexico Tae Kwon Do brought 23 participants to the cleanup. It was the cleanup’s largest group.