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Picking up... From left; High school seniors Riese Dignan and Blake Iverson, along with FFA adviser Mitchell Becker, pick up trash along U.S. Highway 52 during Clean Up Day in Kenmare May 14.
By Marvin Baker
Whether they did it to get out of school for an afternoon, earn a little cold cash or inject some goodwill into their community, students were out in force May 14 cleaning up Kenmare.
From Kindergarten all the way up through high school seniors, nearly 300 students in the Kenmare School District were dispatched and assigned to sectors around the city to beautify a mess that got its ugly start shortly after the first snowfall.
But it wasn’t just the students who got involved. Teachers and administrators, members of the community, city council members, city employees, business people, young mothers with toddlers in tow and husband and wife teams were working the community of 1,000 to make it sparkle.
“I thought it went well,” said Kenmare’s Economic Development Director Jennifer Nelson. “It makes the community look great, especially along the highway (U.S. 52).”
Nelson was in one of the vehicles that stopped at staging areas to collect the trash from individuals and take it to the city dump.
“There were lots of people picking up bags of trash,” Nelson said. “And when we got to areas where there weren’t any kids, it was picked up and put in existing dumpsters.”
Trash wasn’t the only thing the city agreed to take off people’s hands on May 14. Old couches, refrigerators and even old, worn out cars were listed in an April 30 full page Kenmare News ad as being accepted, no questions asked.
It’s hard to drop a car at the curb, but Nelson said if residents called ahead and made arrangements, larger, heavier items like white goods and furniture items were picked up by city employees.
For some it was a profitable afternoon, according to Nelson. Several kids found $1 bills, and a couple of $5 bills were found. But two kids discovered a $50 bill, a great incentive for a couple of hours of community service.
Nelson was pleasantly surprised to see how enthusiastic the students were to be cleaning up their community.
“Maybe it was getting out of school or maybe it was the thought of finding money,” Nelson said. “But it makes the community look great. And, it helps teach the kids – if you’re out there cleaning it up – to be less likely to toss it out there yourself.”
Nelson commended the kids on their effort and added, “keep up the good work.”
Kenmare School Superintendent Duane Mueller was leading by example, working the U.S. Highway 52 ditch with the high school seniors. Eighteen wheelers rolling through town often blew their air horns in support of the massive clean-up effort.
Mueller said technically, Clean Up Day is voluntary, but nearly every student enrolled in the school, 315, worked Kenmare on May 14. It included all 31 teachers in the school system, picking up the community and advising their classes as they went.
Mueller said Clean Up Day is one that students and teachers look forward to as it’s been a tradition in Kenmare for a number of years.
“When the date is set, we designate where the kids are going to go, and off we go,” Mueller said. “It’s a way to do something great for the community and to do something great for the school. I was with the seniors and I never heard a negative comment the entire afternoon.”
He called the students, “a great bunch of kids,” for having the motivation and the enthusiasm to beautify Kenmare.
He suggested that a unencumbered community is more important to the students than the work it takes to clean it up.
Mueller commended the students and teachers, as well as community members and business leaders for taking pride in their community, which may have been the biggest motivator of the day...