A community service project completed Saturday morning by members of the Jeffersonian Democratic Club, Summit Hill, has helped clean up debris from the cemetery complex in the eastern end of the community.
The cleanup program, which resulted in the accumulation of about 15 bags of garbage and numerous other discarded items, marked the second year in the row that club members have volunteered to aid their hometown.
"Anytime we can work together to improve the appearance of our community is time well spent," said Nathan Halenar, president of the organization. "The program serves as a good opportunity for others to become involved."
The club members targeted the cemetery area complex for its community service project because of the obvious reoccurrence of illegal dumping there. They cleaned up the East Ludlow Street extension, adjacent to the St. Michael Cemetery, removing numerous littered items as well as cutting branches, knocking down weeds and cutting some grass.
The second part of the work session included a second cleanup of the area at the end of East White Street. Last year, club members cleaned refuse from the same area.
"Unfortunately," said member Michael McCall, "It looks like it (the grounds) is worse than last year. The dumping is unbelievable. I can see grass trimmings and dirt, but people are just dumping anything up here. It's a disgrace."
"With the coming Memorial Day holiday, we wanted to ensure that as a club we did our part to make the area in which so many are buried both presentable and honorable to the memory of all who have gone before us, but most especially those who served in the armed forces in defense of our freedom," Halenar said.
His sister, Kristen, home from classes at Pennsylvania State University, participated and said, "I think it's always good to give back to my community, because I want our area to look clean and well maintained."
Bill O'Gurek Jr., chairman of the county Democrats and a borough councilman, pointed out, "At our April meeting, members decided they wanted to give back to the community, and so we decided to help spruce up the area around the cemeteries, where, sadly, people have chosen to make it a dumping ground."
"This was an opportunity for us to help the community," he said. "We are not just about asking the public for their help. We want to help others too. In this case, we were able to clean up the area where people go to visit the graves of their loved ones. Our hope is that by cleaning up this area, maybe in the future it will discourage someone from dumping trash or tires up here and we can keep the area looking respectable for those who come to visit the grave sites of their families and friends."
Joseph O'Gurek Jr., club treasurer, pointed out the obvious disregard for the area by illegal dumping. "We found tires, pallets, a bathtub and even a swimming pool liner. It is really sad that people would dump anything up here, let alone these types of things."
Councilman Mike Alabovitz, a member of the club, said he would get the assistance of borough workers to pick up the refuse and have it hauled away.
"It was worth the time and effort," club member Michael McCall said. "To see how that part of the cemetery was when we got there, and then how it looked when we left, it was a nice improvement. I hope people see what was done and will stop dumping there now."