• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Volunteers pick up more than 400 pounds of trash in park, downtown Versailles

Saturday’s 7th annual Main Street Clean Sweep took place five months later than usual thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but volunteers still made an impact in Big Spring Park and downtown Versailles. The event was sponsored by Bluegrass Green Source and normally takes place on or around Earth Day (April 20). Saturday, volunteers met in the pavilion near the front of the park, where they were given trash bags, gloves and a t-shirt by Noel Osborn, an outreach specialist for the group who said she was impressed by the turnout. Some of them spent their two-hour shift in Big Spring Park, while others, like Jerry Glander and his young son, Ryker, walked up the hill to downtown Versailles. On North Main Street, Ryker said he’d found a battery, which he’d learned “will contaminate the soil and water” if not properly disposed of. Other volunteers included Versailles Councilmember Laura Dake and Woodford Magistrate William Downey (Dist. 5), both of whom have been active in a wide variety of Big Spring Park improvement efforts. On Earth Day 2019, Downey picked up about 280 cigarette butts in the park. Saturday, he said there didn’t seem to be nearly as many in the area and attributed at least some of that decline to cigarette receptacles for which a grant from Bluegrass Greensource helped pay. He said as a child, he spent plenty of time in the park in after-school programs, summer camps, and the long-since closed pool. Over the last few years, the park’s condition has improved, he said. “I think you can see (that) day by day, it gets a little cleaner and we’re seeing more people down here and … there’s been a lot of brush-clearing and things of that nature – just general clean-ups. And then things like this …” he said. Downey said he spent part of the morning picking up trash on Court Street and Rose Hill Avenue, where the 200-plus butts he picked up didn’t approach his 2019 haul. Woodford County High School seniors Anabel Nagle and Avery Schanbacher were among the 13 volunteers who picked up a total of more than 400 pounds of litter in and around the park. (At noon, the Versailles Public Works department picked up the bags of trash.) “I just feel like the community needs more people who care about keeping it clean. We have a cute town and I feel like it really has potential – it just needs a little help sometimes,” Anabel said, to which Avery agreed. Osborn said four other Central Kentucky communities were also engaged in Main Street Clean Sweeps that morning and that her occupation is more than a job – it is a passion. “I definitely wanted to do something career-wise that I got to wake up every day and feel like I was contributing to the world in a positive way and I care a lot about the environment …” she said. “Bluegrass Greensource focuses on environmental education, specifically, teaching people about the small changes they can make that have a big impact. So you don’t have to completely upend your life and go green to the max – just the little things. And part of that is, every now and then, coming outside and doing a litter cleanup. Just grabbing a bag and picking up trash in your little park, or downtown.” Downey agreed that little things add up. “Like in the mulch, it’s easy to overlook it, but it’s just little bits of scrap and cigarettes and everything that kind of builds up, and … until you walk around and look, it’s easy to walk past it and not notice it,” he said. “I think it was a success,” Downey said of Saturday morning’s event. “It highlighted the need to pick up for ourselves and keep our community clean.”

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