The streets of Paonia will look a little nicer this summer, thanks to the efforts of a small group of volunteers. On May 19, members of the Knights of Columbus from Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Paonia and St. Margaret Mary Church in Hotchkiss spent the evening hours clearing debris from the curbs of several of the town's streets.
It's been a while since town street crews regularly cleaned debris from curbs, said Paonia town trustee David Bradford, who recruited the volunteers. It doesn't look good, he said. "Walking in town I get so angry." Bradford, the board representative on the town's public works committee, commented that in places the curbs are completely covered in composted materials, and cleaning it out is very labor-intensive.
When the town began planning for the annual spring cleanup week, held May 16-20, Bradford pitched the idea of cleaning curbs to the town. Not only does cleaning the curbs improve the look of the streets, said Bradford, but it also reduces the amount water that flows into streets and settles into intersections during heavy rains, and reduces the amount of sediment that runs into the town's storm water drainage system and into the North Fork River.
But the street department was also dealing with the annual cleanup and numerous other projects. So he pitched the idea to the Knights of Columbus. Father Nicodemus Arasa, David Herr, Chuck Fasse, Ray Waske, Trey Waske, Randy Derryberry, Mike Heck and Tim Lopez brought buckets and shovels and before nightfall had cleaned sections of Third Street, Poplar, North Fork, Orchard and Pan American Avenues. The group focused on curbs at homes where elderly and disabled church members live, because it's difficult for them to perform difficult physical work.
The hundreds of pounds of material pulled from curbs were trucked to the former Paonia wastewater plant, where it will be composted. "We certainly don't want to have to pay to take it to the landfill," said Bradford.
Town manager Jane Berry praised the efforts of the volunteers. Crews have been out with the street sweeper and Bobcat, working to clean the streets in between all of their other duties, but the machine that can clean out the curbs is permanently out of service. Until a new sweeper/vacuum can be purchased, the job has to be done by hand.
Bradford spent the day working solo before the other volunteers showed up after work. "It's surprising how many people stopped and talked to me," said Bradford. He would like to organize a town-wide cleanup and would like to see people clear out their own curbs until the town can get the proper equipment. "I think it's a way for citizens to pitch in and make a difference," he said.
Berry said that effort by citizens to clean curbs and sidewalks around their property "helps tremendously."
For now, the town is actively seeking a good commercial-grade street cleaner, said Berry, which could happen as early as this year.