Councilman's army to launch war on litter

September 16, 1998

McClure: Operation Pride and GroomBy JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Hagerstown City Councilman J. Wallace McClure on Saturday will kick off Operation Pride and Groom, through which an army of volunteers will clean up public property.

The program is expected to have an immediate impact in some areas, McClure said. In the long run, it could help attract new businesses to a spiffier Hagerstown.

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McClure for years has swept the sidewalk in front of his business, and now he hopes to convince more people to do the same in front of their homes and businesses.


The cleanup operation must be ongoing to succeed, although it probably will slack off during the winter months, McClure said.

As he leads his army through the city pulling up weeds and picking up trash, McClure said he will talk to residents, encouraging them to keep the newly cleaned area looking nice.

McClure also hopes to receive calls from constituents who want the volunteers to work in their neighborhoods.

Pastor Michael Jones, of the West End, said he thinks the program is a great idea, but doesn't want it to focus just on downtown.

Jones said he cannot participate directly in the cleanup because he's disabled, but said he could store shovels and rakes at his house for volunteers.

McClure's new operation has had some critics.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said he will join the volunteers Saturday, but thinks the city should address trash and weed problems through code enforcement.

"We should force property owners to keep their properties clean and not clean it for them," Bruchey said.

On the other hand, Bruchey said, the operation could get people involved in their communities.

Councilman Alfred W. Boyer said that if someone drops trash in the gutter one day and the volunteers pick it up, it could condition people to litter.

"If we go around picking up after people, are we teaching them the right thing? Hopefully we are," Boyer said.

Boyer said he plans to attend Saturday's cleanup and thinks it's a good idea to try to get people to take pride in the place they live.

McClure said he wants the volunteers to clean up before major events, such as the Mummers' Parade.

It is his intent to have the parade route from Bester Elementary School to Oak Hill Avenue cleaned the day before and the day of the parade.

Even if there is low turnout for the first Operation Pride and Groom on Saturday, McClure said he will be work harder to encourage the city's high school students to get involved and earn credit toward their student service requirement.

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