Nomeites clean up the town
Nome looks a little better now after the annual spring cleanup. Young people pitched in with city and civic organizations to rid the town of the trash and detritus, which has accumulated over the winter. The familiar yellow trash bags swelled with the windblown bits and pieces of modern life, rounded up and captured by hundreds of hands.
“It really cleans up Nome and makes everything look so much nicer, beautiful and gorgeous,” said Reese Bahnke when asked why he volunteered. “You enjoy the view more when you don’t see trash in the willows and plastic bags everywhere. Getting lots of plastic bags.”
“This is our 21st annual spring cleanup,” said Cheryl Thompson, who coordinated the cleanup for the city. “A lot of it is because of all our snow in the winter. The bags get torn open, it gets blown around and covered by snow and nobody sees it until the snow melts.”
The day after Memorial Day is the start of the cleanup because by then the snow has melted and Nomeites have had a chance to make a few runs to the dump to get rid of the larger, bulkier trash items. So cleaning up is on people’s minds.
The main cleanup event was held on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. “If a kid picks up 12 bags of trash and delivers them to a dump truck they get a blue ticket for each bag,” said Thompson. “At the Lions Club bus, parked at Old St. Joe’s they trade the blue tickets for a red ticket. That goes into a raffle to win one of five bicycles. That’s a pretty popular incentive, to win a bicycle. We have all sorts of other great prizes like sunglasses and berry buckets.” The city also is giving away reusable fabric grocery bags. “It’s to help people to remember to bring their recyclable bag to the grocery store,” Thompson said.
Reese Bahnke and Hayden Leeper were finding a lot of plastic bags along Nome-Teller Highway and in the field near AC.
“I don’t think they should be banned but you should definitely use your own bag to reduce waste,” said Leeper. Farther up toward Icy View his mom Lisa was supervising a group of youngsters also picking up along the highway. “We are making progress and we’re having fun,” she said. “It’s sunny and everyone is in good spirits. Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves and they have a good attitude. So it’s fun. I don’t want to pick up in the rain so we’re happy with the sunshine.”
The dump trucks around town gradually filled with the yellow bags and other odd refuse, such as shredded blue tarps. Nome Public Works and the DOT provided the dump trucks.
At the parking lot across from the Kawerak building on Seppala Drive, the Native corporation’s annual E-waste collection drive was underway.
“This is when the people of Nome can drop off their used electronics whether they’re dead or outdated,” said Vanessa Tahbone, who was supervising. “Say, they got a new TV and they don’t need their old TV. We palletize them into seven and a half foot pallets so they fit into an eight-foot Conex. We can fit eight pallets into one Conex. We ship them out at the end of the season.” The amount of high tech trash was impressive, with some of it looking almost new. When technology changes fast, a big heavy thing can become obsolete in a hurry.
Next to the softball fields at the Nome-Teller Highway, workers from Arctic Gold were removing some giant tires from a warehouse. The plan was to use them to build a berm near the airport while tidying up the World War II era storage facility. While not part of the city’s effort it was in the spirit of the day.
At Old St. Joe’s the eighth grade class from the Anvil City Science Academy served hot dogs. When it was time for the raffle the crowd moved inside. In addition to five donated bikes the young workers could win hoodies, sunglasses, and other useful items for their civic-minded volunteering. The five bike winners were Riley Iya, Thaniel Booshu, Danelle Bachelder, Charlise Seppilu and NACTEC.