Volunteers are needed this Friday to help clean the streets of Three Rivers in preparation for the estimated 10-15,000 visitors anticipated for the centennial festivities and Randy Rogers Band concert on July 6.
“I want (it clean) from sea to shining sea. I would like to talk the garden club into doing a prize for most changed,” Three Rivers Garden Club member Rose Burch said. “We will have people coming from a lot of places. This way it will leave a better impression on our city.”
Burch said a cleanup day was held a few years ago with the garden club and students in the National Honors Society. Mike Pierson, a volunteer with the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce, said if this year’s cleanup goes well there might be more in the future if volunteers are interested.
“There isn’t the perception in our culture of anything wrong with throwing trash from the car or house,” Pierson said. “And the other is a need to enforce current laws that you have but don’t have enough to enforce it, and the courts have to support you in the enforcement; so it’s kind of a threefold problem.”
Volunteers will meet at Three Rivers City Hall at about 8 a.m. Friday and are advised to bring gloves and poking sticks to gather trash. Bags and reflective vests will be provided.
The group’s focus will be along the highways and main streets of Three Rivers, but residents across the town are encouraged to clean up their properties as well.
Trash isn’t just grocery bags and pizza boxes, but excess sand and dust on the roads and cigarette butts. Burch said there were 10 cigarette butts outside of the Picket Fence gift shop on Wednesday morning.
“I see it every day. I just want a clean city,” Burch said. “People are careless about opening vehicles and tossing stuff on the ground.”
Pierson said the wind and increase in traffic with fracking sand combine quickly and make keeping the town clean difficult. He said he collects a wheelbarrow full of sand each week when cleaning from the Gurwitz Center to Finders Keepers in town on Highway 281.
“It’s not as bad as it was, but it’s everywhere,” Burch said. “The people who care do pick it up in their neighborhoods.”
According to the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign, an estimated 1.1 billion pieces of trash are tossed along more than 80,000 miles of state-maintained roadways.
“Litter control should be a daily thing,” Burch said. “I just care and want our city to look its best; I’m proud of our city.”
TxDOT estimates cleanup programs such as Friday’s and others across the state such as Don’t Mess With Texas save TxDOT and taxpayers about $4.7 million annually.
In the days prior to the concert, there will be a team of volunteer inmates from the prison in Three Rivers cleaning up the park and old school road, according to Pierson. He said they’re hoping for six to 12 inmates and that the garden club will provide meals for them.
“The inmates that volunteer are appreciative. They get a meal they wouldn’t have with homemade desserts; for them that’s the compensation,” Pierson said.