Tuesday May 14, 2013

ROCKINGHAM -- Town officials are having a difficult time believing all the debris gathered on Green Up Day was truly found by volunteers on highways, fields and waterways.

Highway Supervisor Mike Hindes said 200 tires and four 6-wheeler trucks of trash were collected Saturday, May 4, as part of the statewide movement to spread the concept of environmentalism and cleanliness.

Green Up Day, a tradition that was started by former Vermont Gov. Deane C. Davis in 1970, has since expanded into a volunteer-based movement. Volunteers clean up their communities and place debris into Green Up Day bags that are placed on the roadsides and other locations, where they are collected to be properly disposed of.

Hindes said most of the trash collected was consistent with what would typically be found by Green Up Day volunteers but a lot of it was not in the special bags. He finds it hard to believe all that debris was found scattered throughout the area and said this problem has arisen in the past few years. Hindes said the amount of Green Up Day bags could have fit in a single one-ton dumptruck. He said the Claremont, N.H., incinerator that used to accept the debris stopped taking it last year.

Interim Municipal Manager Chip Stearns said Rockingham will have to absorb the cost of getting rid of all the trash. At Tuesday's Rockingham Selectboard meeting, he said everything from bicycles to furniture to dining room sets were dumped into the designated Green Up Day vehicles. Stearns also said it is difficult to imagine all that stuff was legitimately found by volunteers.

Hindes said it cost the town hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to dispose of all the trash collected. He said the work occupied four or five members of his crew for an entire day and the rest of his workers for a half-day. The town is working on devising ways to cut down the excess debris and make sure people follow the rules.

Peter Gaskill, the general manager of Triple T Trucking, the company responsible for collecting Green Up bags in Brattleboro, said most people do the right thing and use the bags to dispose of debris. He said one thing that sticks out in his mind is a wet and heavy futon mattress collected this year.

He said his workers are instructed to notify him if any large, suspicious items of debris are found -- which he said has never been much of a problem.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.