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Volunteers combat blight in north Sacramento

Volunteers Chris Perry, left, Jermaine Wilson and Marque Willis join dozens of other volunteers, mostly from Calvary Christian Center, to pick up trash and debris from the streets in north Sacramento on Saturday, December 16, 2017.
Volunteers Chris Perry, left, Jermaine Wilson and Marque Willis join dozens of other volunteers, mostly from Calvary Christian Center, to pick up trash and debris from the streets in north Sacramento on Saturday, December 16, 2017. rbenton@sacbee.com

Riding through the North Sacramento neighborhood of Wills Acres in a silver truck, Michael Cook, Remarcable Hill and Mike Caldwell spot what they’ve been scanning the streets for: a pile of discarded items sitting on the side of the road.

Hill, the driver, pulls over and the men climb out of the car. Outfitted with thick gloves, glasses and beanies, the group loads the truck’s bed with the twin-size mattress, dirty plastic buckets, a broken television and a few pieces of wood on Eleanor Avenue near Johnston Park.

“I’m out here, serving the people,” Caldwell says over the morning’s strong winds.

The three men were joined Saturday by about 60 people at the T&Y Market on Norwood Avenue for this year’s Big Cleanup, a trash collecting effort in the city’s District 2 coordinated by the Calvary Christian Center’s Pastor Phillip Goudeaux and Councilman Allen Warren.

Groups of about three or four carried black trash bags as they walked neighboring streets, talking to residents and picking up trash along the way. A tractor armed with a claw loader waited nearby, dumping piles of collected trash, appliances and furniture into a garbage truck. Many of the volunteers, like Cook, Hill and Caldwell, were members of the Calvary Christian Center, a group of churches that originated in North Sacramento.

It’s the fifth year the councilman has helped host the event, which targets areas in the district where piles of trash and illegal dumping are common. The problem has persisted in parts of his district for years, he said.

The event will hopefully inspire others to join their cause, he said. It will also give volunteers a chance to meet locals and identify any additional needs they may have, including food or assistance with yard maintenance.

“You get the benefit of community pride,” Warren said. “We really want to have that in our community.”

In 2014, the city began rewarding people who submitted tips leading to citations against those responsible for illegal dumping. The program was spearheaded by Warren, whose district saw more than a quarter of the 130 illegal dumping cases handled by code enforcement from January to July of 2014.

The city urged residents who witnessed illegal dumping to call 311 and provide descriptions of the people involved, license plate numbers and any other identifying information. People can also report instances to the Sac311 mobile app or the online web page. Rewards range from $500 to $1,000 for the most serious cases.

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets

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