Valparaiso launches Adopt-A-Block cleanup program
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent October 1, 2012 2:52PM
Morgan Township high school junior Tayler Cerutti (left) holds the bag as Fatimia Espana (right) of Chesterton and Jessica Thornton drop trash the picked up on Monday at Tower Park in Valparaiso. The girls and other students at the Porter County Career and Technical center are taking part in a City of Valparaiso pilot program called Adopt-a-Block. | Andy Lavalley~Post-Tribune
For more on Adopt-a-Block, contact Christine Hisick at 462-1161, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated: November 3, 2012 6:14AM
VALPARAISO — More than 20 students from the Porter County Career and Technical Center descended on Tower Park and the surrounding area Monday for a bit of a spruce-up.
Shelby Sadler, 16, a junior at Valparaiso High School, stood on the playground and clutched a brown trash bag holding cigarette butts, plastic and other refuse she and her classmates picked up.
“It’s nice because we can help the environment and make it cleaner for the kids who are playing here,” she said.
The students helped kick off the city’s Adopt-a-Block project, which encourages residents, businesses, churches and organizations to adopt a portion of their neighborhood for the occasional cleanup.
Vicki Thrasher, the city’s building commissioner, heard about the program in other communities and thought it was something that could be adapted by Valparaiso.
“We’re hoping that it steadily grows,” she said.
Having neighbors include parks in their adoption plans helps the parks in two ways, said Dan McGuire, recreation superintendent for the Valparaiso Parks and Recreation Department. It keeps the parks looking nice, particularly in the winter when snow may keep staff from getting around, and saves the staff time.
Having the Career Center students pick up around Tower Park once a month, for example, will save the Parks Department a couple hundred dollars.
“Every little bit helps,” McGuire said.
Students from the career center are involved in the project’s pilot, and will come out once a month — regardless of weather — to pick up trash. Their area includes the school itself, at 1005 N. Franklin St., the park and the neighborhood around the park.
“It is a great opportunity for the kids to be a part of the community. This park is used a lot,” said Lorna Marcus, whose 22 health career students pitched in on Monday.
All of the classes at the Career Center have a community service project, said Jon Groth, the center’s director.
“The students like the park. We use the park, and the students can clean it up and get a little fresh air at the same time,” Groth said, adding students picked up trash at the park last month. “It’s real easy now, but in January and February, it might be a little different, but the kids don’t mind.”