George Hancock

Wednesday morning presented a new calendar page. 

May 1 was day 121 in year 2019. We note the year’s remaining days numbered 244. 

Outside, the landscape is greening nicely. April’s calmer weather created a vast green sea. Our nearby ridges are sporting early green foliage. 

It’s a beautiful scene on my daily run.

The increased daylight and warmer temps are welcomed. 

The winter season as I age seems to lengthen. Although the deep snows are missing, those icy cold temperatures linger, creating issues for motorists and runners. Thank goodness for our high-tech clothing and running shoes. 

This new running gear makes winter running more tolerable. Yet, running on a sunny, warm morning is always preferred.

May is an interesting time for road runners. May finds many communities engaged in roadside cleanup projects. 

The winter shale and debris are removed from many roads. Tree debris is removed for safer road passages. Many potholes are filled. And, of course, the highway repair and construction season is in full mode. Once again, orange cones are everywhere.

Another common roadside sight is numerous material piles waiting for pickup. 

Many communities sponsor spring trash-collection days. The rules and regulations vary by community. Yet, those mounds of roadside items attract myriad treasure seekers.

I regularly run through several communities hosting these spring cleanup events. 

The treasure seekers start early. It seems that every imaginable vehicle is used in this collection process. Pickup trucks, trucks with wagons and carts, flatbed trucks, lawn tractors, even fancy automobiles, are spotted near these treasure piles.

The cable television show “American Pickers” surely influenced this roadside behavior. You never know what collectible treasure rests in these piles unless you personally check.

Many folks specialize in select materials. The vehicles creeping by me have the same items. The caravans are long and slow moving. Caution is advised when driving or even running through the spring cleanup communities.

Another fabulous roadside sight is the miles of trash bags along our roads following a highway cleanup project. 

Many groups gather around Earth Day and collectively pick up the accumulated roadside trash. These projects generally continue into early May. Numerous groups are associated with these roadway cleanup projects. Thank you!

Several groups annually clean highways I routinely run along. The Paint Creek Regional Watershed Association teams with the Mountain Laurel Chapter of Trout Unlimited to clean the roads and hillsides near the Little Paint Creek, state Route 160 and Berwick Road. These volunteers have toiled here for 10 years resulting in a cleaner environment.

These volunteer cleanup days, coupled with increased traffic flow, reduced the roadside trash along my running routes. The increased traffic flow is due to several new housing sites. Many motorists use Berwick Road as a shortcut to Scalp Avenue or state Route 160. Decades ago, very few vehicles passed me during my morning run. Today, people drive past frequently. The end result is reduced dumped trash.

However, a recent front page Tribune-Democrat article could color that scenario. 

Ron Fisher’s excellent April 22 article “Recycling taking a hit” fully explains the current situation.

Fisher’s article details how China is reducing recyclable materials purchase for numerous reasons. The end result is many U.S. recycling communities face higher operating costs due to poor customer demand. China’s action created a recyclable material glut.

But, one company is weathering this recyclable storm well. Waste Management public affairs coordinator Erika Deyarmin-Young stated, “We have been able to identify markets for the materials we collect. In 2018, Waste Management identified domestic markets for 68 percent of the recyclables we collect, and all of our plastics No. 1 and No. 2 went to domestic markets.”

Well done, Waste Management. Clearly, Cambria County recycling officials should consult Waste Management for recycling tips. The more we know, the cleaner our Cambria County communities remain.

Running or driving along trash-free roads is a pleasant experience. Spring’s vibrant colors are soothing. A clean natural community is a refuge from our world’s hurried pace. 

Nature allows us to recharge for that next turbulent round.

George A. Hancock of Scalp Level Borough is an occasional contributor to the editorial page.

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