Extenuating circumstances contributed to a limited collection of trash this past weekend during Defiance Rotary’s regular cleanup of a cherished area of town — the confluence of the Maumee and Auglaize rivers.
Once the location of Fort Defiance and the witness to other historical significant events before and after, the confluence is one of Defiance’s most historic sites.
For the past three years Defiance Rotary — a local nonprofit organization that raises funds for charitable causes — has held the riverbank cleanup at the confluence.
This year it held the first of three cleanups on Saturday morning with additional efforts on the first Saturday morning of July and August. Interested persons are asked to meet at Pontiac Park at 8 a.m. on those days
Concerning the latest cleanup effort Saturday, not a lot of trash was collected, according to Defiance Rotary president Morris Murray. A group of volunteers from the Rotary and the local community picked up at least three bags of trash, a tire and some other large items, such as a bed frame, Murray indicated.
One reason for the lighter trash collection may have been the recent high waters of the Maumee and Auglaize rivers, which swept away some trash, Murray speculated.
The volunteers scoured riverbanks just east of Pontiac Park and to near the Clinton Street bridge along the Maumee, and to the Second Street bridge along the Auglaize River. They also walked a short length of East River Drive, to clean up litter there as well.
Volunteers did not have a boat on Saturday, although they’ve used one in the past and will have that option in the future, according to Murray.
He said the regular effort is an event the Rotary is happy to handle.
“It’s something that Rotary is happy to be involved in because of the beauty of our community,” he said. “Obviously, there are health and safety issues related to that stuff too. Rotary is proud to be part of the process to help with the cleanup effort and help beautify the community.
“We always are happy to have more volunteers,” he added. “If we had more volunteers we could probably expand the effort. It’s pretty much focused on the areas right around the confluence. We don’t have the equipment and manpower to clean up miles of river. We hope to see more volunteers in the future, and it’s something I think we’ll keep doing as long as trash is there.”
Past Rotary president and organization member Phil Constien said the first cleanup — in 2017 — was held only once. But it was expanded to three times last year and will be held three times this year.
“We (Rotary) had been discussing a service project in town we feel is an important part of the community,” explained Constien. “We do a lot of good things, but most of those are donations. We wanted to do more, and I feel that the rivers are a central part of the community and they tend to be taken for granted.
“.. As a community we could do a better job of embracing this beautiful resource we have,” continued Constien. “Part of that is taking responsibility for this, and that’s why the river cleanup would be something we could do not only as a service project, but to bring the community together to keep our confluence beautiful and trash-free, and lead the community in taking ownership of the rivers.”
Constien added that the “main goal” of the effort is “to encourage people not to wait for a cleanup day. When they see trash, just pick it up. We can set that example.”