“Overwhelming!” City Building Inspector Lanny Holland said Monday when asked about the turnout during Saturday’s Beeville Citywide Spring Clean.
“I didn’t expect that kind of response,” he said.
Overwhelming was what City Street Superintendent Albert Bridge had wanted and it was exactly what he got. He and a band of city employees were receiving pickups and trailers at the gate of the city yard at 200 S. Jackson St. even before the 8 a.m. starting time. At ten minutes until 5 p.m., Joe Soliz and Ernest Valencia, the two men who worked directed traffic through the gate, let the last truck into the yard.
“We’re pleased with the initiative people took to bring things in,” City Manager Ford Patton said. “People waited in line, they were patient and cooperative. The people Albert had at the city yard did an excellent job and kept the vehicles moving.”
Kathleen Echevarria, the city’s litter abatement officer, said that even Mayor Kenneth Chesshir showed up to help at noon and to pass out awards and gifts to volunteers.
“We’re gonna fine tune it and it’ll get better every time,” Ms. Echevarria said. One of the miracles of the day was the fact that with all those vehicles in the city yard and all the front end loaders, there was not a single accident.
Fortunately Soliz and Valencia were in place long before 8 a.m. because they already had pickups with trailers lined up and waiting. The vehicles were loaded down with old washers and dryers, crumbling sofas, old desks and tables, discarded lawn mowers, roofing materials, fencing materials, old lumber, water heaters, rotting carpet and more.
At the Police Training Center at 708 W. Milam St. dozens of volunteers were gathering, donning lime green T-shirts and taking leather work gloves provided by the city in preparation for at least a half day of work.
“I was in a state of shock when I saw all the people who came out,” Ms. Echevarria said of the volunteers and of the number of people who lined up to wait their turn to empty pickups and trailers. She said she handed out about 80 T-shirts but there are many more of them left in boxes for the volunteers when the city holds its next clean-up event.
“Yessir,” said Bridge, “It was a success.” He said city workers filled, packed down and filled again 11 large refuse containers that had been provided by Allied Waste, the city’s solid waste disposal contractor. Then the people at the city yard started creating what one bystander later dubbed “Mount Basura.”
The pile continued to grow until Bridge estimated that it would take another 10 containers to dispose of the mountain of trash.
“It shows a great need for the community,” Holland said. He said that as vehicles began to line up along South Jackson Street in lines going both north and south, he counted as many as 20-25 trucks in each line. And another 30-35 trucks waited in line inside the city yard compound. By then the average wait time for someone from the time he joined the line until he was able to leave the city yard was one hour.
Ms. Echevarria said 348 vehicles came through the gate at the city yard and she guessed that the crew there collected at least 450 cubic yards of trash. She said Bridge estimated the take at being closer to 600 cubic yards.
Among the items collected were 57 mattresses, 41 sofas, ten water heaters, 10 refrigerators, seven kitchen ranges, 16 washing machines and 233 tires. Although the city had discouraged people from bringing tires to the yard, they ended up taking up to four tires per household.
The volunteers returned to the training center at noon and found that Municipal Court Clerk Zenaida Silva and her husband, Amado, had made lots of hot-dogs for the group.
“And those hot-dogs were good,” Ms. Echevarria said.
After lunch, some of the volunteers were ready to go back on the street and finish the job. “There are still about 20 places where elderly and disabled people live where they need help in cleaning up their property,” Ms. Echevarria said.
“It made me realize that people really want to clean,” she said.
“Everybody was exhausted at the end of the day,” Holland said, “But excited about how much was there.”
To celebrate a successful battle against trash in Beeville, the city’s crew scaled Mount Basura at the end of the day and like a squad of victorious Marines, hoisted Old Glory at the summit for all to see.