6,000 free bags for Bethel Spring cleaning

by Angela Denning-Barnes on June 1, 2012

It equals nearly one free trash bag per Bethel resident and it’s part of an enhanced effort to pick up Spring trash this year. The City of Bethel has 6,000 free trash bags to hand out for Clean Up Green Up and eight other organizations have come together to get businesses and residents involved. They have offered to clean up certain areas of town, even allowing employees to use work hours to do so.

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For years, the city’s Parks and Recs department has handed out free trash bags and encouraged residents to clean up around town, offering small prizes for their efforts.

Janet Athanas, the Department’s long-time director said, “This year we had 30 cases, so that’s 6,000 bags for trash to be picked up in Bethel.”

Tiffany Zulkosky, with the USDA Rural Development helped spearhead getting the local agencies involved.

“We pulled together a big meeting of organizations that were interested in working on this effort together and heard what the city had going on tried to find ways that we could help partner with them to make this not only a city effort, but a city-wide effort,” Zulkosky said.

Several community organizations helped in the planning efforts including: The City of Bethel, the Lower Kuskokwim School District, Donlin Gold, Orusararmuit Native Council, USDA Rural Development, Calista, Bethel Communities Services Foundation, AVCP, and YKHC.

Athanas said, “It’s been fun to have people call in and tell us where they’re working, what they’re going to do.”

She says a group got together to clean up around the small boat harbor. AVCP employees had a Clean Up day on May 18 and the City of Bethel had a clean up day for it’s employees on May 25. ONC is doing it today. Airport staff has also done two clean up sessions.

To get residents more interested in Clean Up Green Up this year, organizations have donated prizes such as a free round trip flight on Grant, kid’s bicycle, and an I-pad shuffle and gift certificates.

Ronda Sargent works with Athanas at the Bethel Parks and Recs Department, “For the residents that want to be put in for the prizes, it is one ticket per bag of trash,” Sargent said. “So, it can be a yellow ALPAR bag full, it can be a home large garbage bag full.”

This year, instead of tickets going into a drawing, the person with the most tickets wins. In other words, the person who picks up the most trash wins the prize.

Free trash bags can be picked up at the Bethel youth center. For tickets, you can show your full bags of trash at any city office.

The program runs from June 1 through June 23. There will be a barbeque on June 30 where the prizes are handed out.

ALPAR supplies Bethel with free plastic bags for the cleanup every year.

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