FULTON COUNTY - Volunteers spent a pretty day Saturday cleaning up an ugly problem in Fulton County.
Friends Dustin Derocker, 12, of Gloversville, and Randy Jennings, 13, of Oppenheim, were out for a walk in Drecker's neighborhood when they saw members of the Fulton County Boys and Girls Club wearing orange vests that said "Take Pride in Fulton County" on them.
The Boys and Girls Club was one of more than 30 organizations and an estimated 2,000 volunteers participating in the Fifth Annual Spring Cleanup Saturday, an event organized by the Fulton County Board of Realtors and the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Alexis Swatt, left, and Alex Hollister pick up litter Saturday on Enterprise Road in Johnstown as part of the countywide spring cleanup event. In the background are Morgan Colasanti, left, and Chantal
Intonte. (The Leader-Herald/Jason Subik)
When Derocker and Jennings saw the effort to clean, they decided to end their lazy Saturday and help out.
"It's disrespectful to the community, the way people throw trash on the ground," Derocker said, leaning down to pick up a piece of plastic.
Jennings, who used to live in Gloversville before moving to Oppenheim, said helping to clean up his former city made him feel good.
"It's Gloversville, the place needs a lot of help," he said.
Joyce Royal, chairwoman of the Fulton County Board of Realtors Communications Committee, said during the winter time Fulton County looks pristine, usually covered in a white blanket of snow, a blanket that obscures the problem she knows will resurface when the snow melts.
"The main reason I got involved in this was listening to people say that the thing they see when they drive into Fulton County is that everything is covered in litter, so litter is my pet peeve. When you bring people into town who want to buy houses, you need to make a great first impression or they aren't going to come back," she said.
Royal said some organizations concentrated on specific areas; for example, 50 volunteers from the Euphrates cheese company cleaned up the Johnstown Industrial Park.
Other groups took charge of cleaning different sectors of Fulton County, including the two cities, Route 30, and the towns of Caroga and Broadalbin. This year, groups were outfitted with "Grip 'n Grab" reaching tools to help pick up some of the more disgusting garbage. And there was plenty of it.
"On Main Street [in Gloversville], I saw lots of fast food wrappers and containers and cans and bottles. I know what everyone is drinking now," Royal said.
Drecker and Jennings reported seeing lots of trash, including fast food wrappings, discarded clothing and even fully soiled baby diapers.
Cathy Johnson, a real estate agent and Gloversville resident, said she enjoyed participating in the cleaning effort because it gave her a chance to help her own neighborhood near West Eighth Avenue.
She said she hates the way the litter looks where she lives and relished the chance to change it, if only for a short time.
"It's wonderful; it all looks clean right now," she said. "You feel very bewildered looking at all the litter. I just can't understand it. We'll clean this up and it'll go right back in a few weeks."
Chamber of Commerce President Mark Kilmer said the 2013 Spring Cleanup event did not include Montgomery County because the event is mostly organized by the Fulton County Board of Realtors.
Montgomery County does not have its own Realtors association, as its Realtors are members of the Capital Region Realtors Association. He said he eventually would like to see the cleanup include both counties.
"We're going to try to establish some link with Montgomery County so we can have a regional cleanup day," he said. "The mission of the chamber is to market the county, and to market the county, you've got to have a clean county."