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Operation Pride and Groom put on hold

October 08, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Three weeks after initiating his Operation Pride and Groom, Hagerstown City Councilman J. Wallace McClure said Wednesday he will put the program to spruce up the city on hold until spring.

McClure said not enough volunteers were involved for the program to be successful.

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He will lead volunteers on this year's final cleanup effort on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The group will head south on South Potomac Street near the Washington County Free Library. Volunteers are to meet at 2 p.m. in the Mid-City parking lot off East Washington Street near North Locust Street.

In every war there are attacks that may or may not work, McClure said in a telephone interview.

In McClure's war to clean up Hagerstown, he has decided to "retreat and draw up a new battle plan," he said.

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Last Saturday only two people showed up to help McClure, his wife and his daughter pick up trash and pull weeds downtown, he said.

The city cannot be groomed by five people, McClure said.

The first-term council member said he hasn't given up.

After seeing his volunteer army dwindle from about 15 people to eight to five over the past three Saturdays, McClure said he is convinced that downtown will be cleaned only if people are paid to do the work or if juvenile offenders are ordered to do it for community service.

The city's code enforcement officials could pursue extreme cases, he said.

"I don't think that what we did was really a failure," he said.

McClure said the program raised awareness, and he has seen more people cleaning up the sidewalks in front of their property in recent weeks.

"I'm not ready to give up on the war," he said.

McClure said he was disappointed that only one resident from the core of downtown volunteered for the effort. Most of the people who showed up on the operation's first day, Sept. 19, were from out of town, he said.

McClure said he didn't want to take people away from their own yard work on Saturdays since many people don't have time to do it on week nights.

People also are becoming busier shopping for the holiday season.

Perhaps the cleanup effort could be limited to once or twice a year, with people encouraged to spend a full day cleaning up public rights-of-way throughout the city, McClure said.

Another possibility would be to have businesses or institutions adopt a block, and assume responsibility for cleaning it up every two weeks, he said.

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