GRAFTON—Taylor County is known for its beautiful scenic backdrops, quaint communities and residence who are always looking to make a difference for the better. However, litter always seems to be an issue along the area’s roadways, but thanks to All Aboard Grafton (AAG), that eyesore will soon be attacked.
A group of dedicated volunteers have been coming together for the past couple of years to combat the issue of litter in Taylor County, as part of West Virginia Make It Shine, a program dedicated to making WV the cleanest state in the nation.
“We have been holding these cleanups for the past couple of years and last year was our most successful year thus far,” revealed Breanna Collins, who is spearheading the Bring Back the Shine Community Cleanup 2020 initiative. “We try to hold them in April, because it falls between Arbor Day and Earth Day.”
According to Collins, AAG is utilizing a Make It Shine Grant that is offered through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to host the annual event.
“They offer us garbage bags and gloves to collect the trash and litter, as well as a dump trailer to put all of the trash in,” she said. “They also haul it all off and pay for the fees to do so.”
Through the collaboration, area groups, organizations and individuals, work to help “Bring Back the Shine” here in the county. The community wide cleanup inspires residents to take pride in their home.
This year’s Bring Back the Shine will be held on Saturday, April 4, from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., and Collins is encouraging groups and organizations to get involved in this special community service project.
“We try to make it as inclusive as possible, but we also know that no everyone is available on the day of the cleanup,” she said. “So, we extend the cleanup out to the two weeks prior to the event date.”
According to Collins, the courtesy is extended to try and entice more participation. Another way they incentivize the program, AAG offers prizes for the top three groups with the largest teams.
“Last year, we had over 10 organizations participate. We were able to award first-place $500, second-place $300 and third-place received $150,” she revealed.
Following the annual cleaning event, organizers host a picnic as a way to thank the participants. This year, partakers will gather at the Shrine Building, on Old Route 50, for the party.
“We just felt like there needed to be a little celebration for the community that participated, either that day or in the weeks leading up to the Bring Back the Shrine cleanup, after a hard day of work,” Collins said.
She disclosed that a great deal of garbage is collected from around the county, helping to improve the overall aesthetic appeal of the area.
“Last year, we were able to collect over 50 tires from the roadsides and even Tygart Lake,” she reported. “Although we do not know the exact weight of the garbage we picked up last year, we do know that we had to leave a contractor’s dump truck full of waste, because it would not fit in the dump trailer.”
Not only is the cleanup a community effort, AAG has teamed up with the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department to ensure that drug paraphernalia is properly disposed of.
“We are aware that drug paraphernalia waste has become a problem, so we have informed participants to not mess with it, and that they can drop a pin to the health department so that they can come collect it and make sure it is disposed of accordingly,” Collins noted.
AAG also corresponds their efforts to those of the Taylor County Community Corrections program to ensure all areas that need the most attention are tackled.
“We have also obtained maps from the Taylor County Assessor’s Office to help note those high impact areas,” she added.
Collins revealed that last year, they provided some smaller dumpsters for residents to utilize for the disposal of their trash. Because it was such a large undertaking, AAG decided for forego the rental of the vessels, however the Taylor County Commission volunteered to provide receptacles for this year’s project.
Taking part in the Bring Back the Shine cleanup is simple. Gather a group of friends and register your team by March 21, by emailing [email protected] or through the All Aboard Grafton Facebook page.
Groups will need to provide their team name, number of participants, the phone number and email address of a contact person for the group, the date of participation and if there is a desired cleanup location, that will need to be noted as well.
For those groups or individuals who are unable to participate on the day of the event, alternate pick-up dates will run from March 21-April 4 at 1:00 p.m. Those opting to take part before the big day will need to take a picture of their team and turn in a sign in sheet.
Individuals do not have to be a part of a group to participate in the cleanup. Those taking part may obtain bags and gloves at Espresso Yourself Coffee House.
Collins shared that this a great way to show pride in the community and help leave a lasting legacy, while helping to boost morale.
“We have such a beautiful county, and we want to make sure that it looks its best for any tourists coming through this summer,” expressed Collins. “Not only that, but it makes the people that live here feel better too. I think that everyone always feels a little better after a good spring cleaning!”