• 79°

PA trash-off teaches community pride

Nobody got wet working Saturday while picking up trash in the city of Port Arthur. The rain waited until the about 130 people participating in the city-wide cleanup finished, got under the downtown pavilion and started eating a picnic meal.

“We picked up trash and the Lord cleansed it,” Ellis W. Allen, president-elect of the Port Arthur Beautification Commission, said.

Saturday’s cleanup was part of the Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-Off annual event.

Allen said he was pleased with the turn-out.

“We had a multi-cultural event today with about 85 to 90 young people involved and teams from local businesses, industry and civic and community groups,” he said.

The cleanup targeted the city’s downtown area along Procter Street, the seawall and Houston Avenue, Allen said.

Along the seawall, the Communities in Schools group was represented by school personnel and students from Port Arthur schools.

“We do this every year,” Greg Hill, representative from Stephen F. Austin School, said.

Hill said it was important for children to learn to give back to their community.

Kayla Washington, 10, a student at Sam Houston Elementary picked up trash along the seawall with the Communities in Schools group for the third consecutive year. She was joined by her two brothers, 9-year-old Jacob and 13-year-old Jeremiah.

“We want to make the community a better place,” Kayla said. “There is trash all over, and people should not do it, especially with the trash cans all around.”

The children’s mother, Sharon Hill, 45, said picking up trash in the city not only improved the looks for the enjoyment of residents, but aided in economic development.

“When we are trying to bring more business to the downtown, we don’t want the people to say it is a trashy city,” Hill said.

In 2009, more than 25,200 bags of trash were collected statewide, totaling more than 158 tons of waste.

The Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-Off is part of the partnership between Keep Texas Beautiful and the Texas Department of Transportation. 

skoonce@panews.com