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Students fan out to clean up Kenmare

In less than two hours Wednesday afternoon, the entire student body at Kenmare Public School had scoured the entire community of 1,100, cleaning the ditches and boulevards of trash that was hidden under winter snow.

5/20/15 (Wed)

Scouring the streets... A group of seventh-graders, followed by their supervisors Jean Barnhart and Shalene Nygaard, head back toward Sixth Street after scouring one of the side streets in Kenmare for trash May 13. The seventh grade, along with the rest of the student body, was out in force picking up Kenmare during the annual city-wide clean up.

By Marvin Baker

In less than two hours Wednesday afternoon, the entire student body at Kenmare Public School had scoured the entire community of 1,100, cleaning the ditches and boulevards of trash that was hidden under winter snow.

It was a show of force not normally seen in a small community. More than 300 students were dismissed at 2 p.m., giving Kenmare Public Works a massive work force to clean up the community.

Children as young as kindergarten up through high school senior, picked up aluminum cans, general pieces of trash, motor oil containers, pieces of lumber, packaging materials, trash bags, gum wrappers, cigarette butts, pieces of metal pipe, glass and cardboard that had been left around town presumably since mid November when it started snowing.

Clean-Up Day is an effort every spring in Kenmare in which students are the power, but some parents and other adults volunteer to clean up trash while still others volunteer the use of their vehicles to haul trash to the city dump.

Jennifer Nelson, the city’s economic development director, along with school Superintendent Duane Mueller got the event set up.
Nelson was pleased with how things turned out and praised the students for their effort and their enthusiasm.

“They do a great job,” she said. “It’s amazing to get that much done in a couple of hours.”
Likewise with the adult volunteers. Nelson said there were more volunteers to clean up, more drivers and more employees cleaning up on behalf of their businesses.

Nelson said the city’s stake in the effort, that has been going on nine years, is to supply trash bags and transportation. 
After the event, city employees provide everyone a snack bag donated by Gartner’s Jack & Jill.

“We line up the volunteers and pick up bags and hand them more bags,” Nelson said. “The students go wherever it’s necessary.”
And it’s school officials who determine where everyone is needed most.

According to Mueller, clean-up day is a lot like a military operation. A map of the city is used to mark trouble spots, classes, along with their teachers and chaperones are designated, school is dismissed and the march is on.

“It’s really a good thing,” Mueller said. “It shows that the kids can pay back and it’s our way of getting the student body involved.”
Most of the students work the city, but some are bused to locations just outside of town and work their way back in, according to Mueller.

“We work together with the city,” Mueller said. “It’s quite an operation. The staff does a great job.”
Kenmare Public Works Director Mike Thompson was with one of the groups of students that started near the Niobe hill and worked their way back into Kenmare.

He said the clean-up effort consisted of basically the same type of items as found in previous years, but the amount of trash is significant.
He said there was approximately 5 cubic yards of trash collected and placed in a roll-off container at the city dump.

Thompson was following his group in a Payloader. He said they filled the bucket of his machine four times on their approximate mile trip back into town.

In addition, Dale Hanson, who works with Thompson, was driving a city pickup truck that was filled three times.
“The kids did a wonderful job and there was lots of it,” Thompson said of the trash. “They did an excellent job.”

Thompson noted that one student, Bradley Peterson, actually walked into some shallow water near Des Lacs Lake to retrieve some trash items that otherwise would have remained.

He also noticed that kindergarten children cut a path from the elementary school to downtown Kenmare, picking up gum wrappers and placing them in small bags that were convenient for the children to carry.

Thompson said it’s just a reminder of how enthusiastic the students were to help out and how important a clean community is to them.
“I’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” Thompson said. “It’s good to see the kids out there doing it. It’s enjoyable watching them. It’s a win win.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!