Last updated: August 27. 2013 11:53AM - 281 Views

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Almost a year to the day since its formation, the Citizens for a Clean Sedalia committee finally saw the fruits of its labor during its first neighborhood cleanup project.

Committee members, city staff and volunteers — including nearly 50 from Whiteman Air Force Base — spread out across the east side of town early Saturday morning to pick up trash and debris. The neighborhood cleanup project, months in the making, was first thought of last summer after the committee learned about a similar project in Independence.

“It’s something we, pretty much from the start, decided we needed to bring here,” said committee chair Mary Merritt. “The great thing about the neighborhood cleanup is that it’s not just one person or one person’s problems, the whole neighborhood is pitching in and taking pride in their block.”

Last week, the committee and city staff hung door hangers on the homes in the cleanup area, which seemed to help, said committee member LaVera Schmitt.

“I think it really just let them know, ‘Hey, if you have big items or trash, we’ll be here next week to take it away,’ ” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of couches and big bulk items out by curbs for the street crews to pick up.”

On East Fifth Street, Whiteman Air Force Base Senior Airman Veronica Gallegos, Airman First Class Stephan Johnson and Staff Sgt. Alberto Rivera, all with the 509th Security Forces, said they were surprised how quickly the trash bags were filling up.

“We’ve only done a quarter of a block, really only one house, and the bags are already full,” Johnson said. “Winter just ended, though. A lot of times you’ll see more trash piled up after snowstorms, and with the weather getting better I think people are starting to want to clean up more.”

The trio said they heard about the cleanup project on the base and immediately decided to volunteer.

“We see Mayor (Elaine) Horn out at base functions a lot, so this felt like a good way to give back to Sedalia,” Rivera said. “It’s just a few hours of our time, but obviously it can really make a difference.”

Merritt said she was thrilled with the volunteer turnout and said she hopes to see that many at the next neighborhood cleanup — currently slated for sometime this summer at a west-side location.

“This is our first one so there’s been a lot of learning that has gone on,” she said. “It’s exciting, though. We’ve been talking and planning for this cleanup for so long, it’s nice to see it’s finally here.”

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