Traffic passes Emery Thibodeau as he picks up trash alongside Kalifornsky Beach Road last week. Melting snow is exposing a season's worth of trash along the peninsula's roads.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
From picking up a gum wrapper in your front lawn, a cigarette butt in front of the grocery store or an empty bottle alongside the road, everyone is being asked to do their part to make the Kenai Peninsula a cleaner place to live and visit.
“There’s a lot of trash left from winter that is starting to show up as the snow thaws,” said Terry Linebarger, cleanup coordinator for the 2007 Kenai Peninsula Cleanup event scheduled for May 7-12. The event is sponsored by ConocoPhillips and organized by Kenai Peninsula Lions Clubs and the Kenai, Soldotna, Ninilchik, Homer and Seward chambers of commerce.
“Bags can be picked up anytime. ConocoPhillips already delivered about 1,000 to each chamber, and people are already coming in for them,” Linebarger said.
In Nikiski, bags can be picked up at the post office.
Once they have bags people spread through the communities to clean up trash and roadside debris. Filled trash bags are left along the road to be collected by Alaska Waste Management.
While the spring cleanup is volunteer driven, there’s never a shortage of people interested in performing the civic duty, Linebarger said.
“The trash always gets cleaned up. There’s a lot of people that take pride in the community,” he said.
Emery Thibodeau of Kenai is one of those people.
“My wife, son, brother and I all do it every year, but we do it sporadically,” he said.
Thibodeau said he and his family typically clean along Kalifornsky Beach Road from Bridge Access Road toward Kasilof to Ketch Street.
“It’s about a two-mile stretch if you count both sides of the road,” he said.
This area may be not be vast, but its importance to the Thibodeau family runs as deep as the waters of Cook Inlet.
“Basically we do it in memory of my daughter, Maria Lee Thibodeau. She was killed in a car accident six years ago, when she was 22,” he said.
Thibodeau said their is an “Adopt a Highway” sign dedicated to his daughter on the side of Kalifornksy Beach Road that they clean around, but they also all do it because they said the event seemed like something she would have liked to participate in.
“She liked doing stuff like this, so we continue on. It’s a good reason,” he said.
For those who decide to participate in the cleanup event, Linebarger said there will be volunteer appreciation barbecues from noon to 3 p.m. May 12. In Kenai it will be held at the chamber of commerce, while in Soldotna the barbecue will take place at Farnsworth Park on Birch Street. In Nikiski there will be a pizza party at the Jason Peterson Memorial Ice Rink.
There also will be cash and prize giveaways for youth groups that participate.
Tickets will be given out the morning of the 12th, then stubs will be turned in later in the day for the drawing. For more information, contact Linebarger at 283-2880.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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