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West Medford hauls in piles of trash

Cleanup day's 'never been anything like this before,' one organizer says

They came by the scores Saturday to the Santo Community Center, dumping tons of everything from batteries and appliances to chicken wire and the remains of drug-house remodels.

Suffice it to say, West Medford Cleanup Day was a smashing success for both residents and organizers.

Westside residents came with little red wagons.

They pushed broken-down pick-ups down Columbus Avenue.

— They even carried refrigerators, rather than wait in line for an hour or more.

We've done this four or five times before, but it's never been anything like this before, said West Medford Community Coalition volunteer Matt Hart, 50, who has been involved with the organization for six years.

Typically, we've filled five or six bins. 11 o'clock, we had 10 filled.

Pickups and trailers stacked up in three directions on Jackson Street and Columbus Avenue with some spilling over onto McAndrews Road and Western Avenue.

This is too crazy, just too much stuff, Hart marveled as he chatted with drivers, who were determining whether to wait in line, walk stuff over to the collection site or wait for another day.

About 30 volunteers took part, directing traffic, inspecting loads and hauling off materials.

Household junk, some of it decades old, found its way into more than a dozen 30-cubic-yard trash bins hauled in by Rogue Disposal & Recycling.

2 p.m., volunteers were working on their 14th bin and appliances were cut off by American Appliance Recyclers ' although the company was taking the old washers, dryers and refrigerators directly at its White City plant.

Other companies donating services included Burn's Tire Recycling Inc., Schnitzer Steel, the Lions Center, Biomass One and Allied Battery. The event was sponsored in part by a &

36;1,500 neighborhood grant from the city of Medford.

The real bottleneck has been appliances, said organizer Kevin Treister, 53, of Ashland, who was perched atop several tons of debris.

CERVS (Community Emergency Resources and Vital Services) took refrigerators one year and it took about a year for them to get rid of all of them, Treister said. People abandon refrigerators all over the place. We talked to one mother that wouldn't let her children play in the alley behind her house because there were abandoned refrigerators back there.

Volunteer Riki Bedford, 40, organized similar efforts in the California community of Fulton in Sonoma County before moving to Medford last year.

I think a lot of the response is due to the community growing fed up with the stigma of a drug environment and safety issues, Bedford said.

You have people shaking their fingers and being quick to blame someone else. This is a way for people to do something for themselves. You supply a service and they will come.

Among those coming was Allen Jackson, 44, who carted three old car batteries in a red wagon across McAndrews Road to Allied Battery's truck.

The dump charges are way too much, that's why you see people hauling their garbage and a bunch of appliances into the mountains, he said.

To be sure, there's still room for improvement.

On Kenwood Avenue, just a block away from the cleanup site, appliances and rubbish similar to the items discarded remained around several homes.

It's not an infinite problem, Treister said. People are willing to wait three or four hours in line, because it's better than paying &

36;30 or &

36;40. It's a financial problem.

For Bedford's husband, Tom, 39, who was among those waiting in line, it was very much worth the time. He had the remains of a former drug house in his trailer.

It took several hours to load all this up, he said. This is definitely a good thing for the community. After a year or two more of this, I think things will thin out.

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From left, Aaran Linhart, Leo Vait, Barak Griffin and Chris Linhart haul a refrigerator across a field to the Santo Community Center in Medford Saturday. They had been waiting in line with a truckload of trash during the free West Medford Cleanup Day. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven