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Residents, officials turn out for Waskom's citywide cleanup

By Robin Y. Richardson
March 19, 2017 at 4 a.m.

From left, Pct. 1 County Commissioner William Hatfield, Waskom Mayor Jesse Moore and Waskom Police Chief Westy Meisenheimer support the town's annual citywide cleanup Saturday.

WASKOM - Waskom, "the Gateway to Texas," designated Saturday to spruce up a little bit, just in time for spring.

"This is our first cleanup this year, citywide," said Waskom Mayor Jesse Moore. "We've been doing this for several years trying to get the town cleaned up a little bit, trying to get folks interested in keeping the town cleaned."

Through the cleanup day, residents are afforded the opportunity to bring in old appliances, toys, tires - "whatever you have" - to the dumpster to be disposed of for free. Moore said this year the city will have a total of three free cleanups, with the next one slated for May. It will be sponsored by BFI, the city's waste service.

"They are helping us out tremendously," said Moore.

"It's just trying to get everybody involved and get Waskom cleaned up," he said of the cleanups. "That's what we want to do."

All residents have to do is bring proof of residency such as a receipt or a water bill.

"It doesn't cost you a thing - nothing whatsoever," Moore said of taking advantage of the service.

Saturday was a team effort as residents and officials paved the streets, picking up trash.

"In fact, our city secretary, she's even out doing it," said Moore. "We all try to get involved that work down at the city, and show people that: 'Hey, we're trying to do this ourselves; we need your help.'"

"That's what we want to do is just get everybody involved, (and) make them proud of it," the mayor said.

As the "gateway to Texas," being the first city that welcomes travelers once they crossover from the Louisiana border, Moore wants to make sure Waskom makes a great impression.

"I would like for Waskom to be the cleanest little city in the state of Texas," he said. "That's what I would like to see."

"We've got a lot going on right now and most of it is focused in trying to get the city cleaned up and (making it) a pretty place for people to come and see," he said.

Pct. 1 County Commissioner William Hatfield, who represents the area, said he's always happy to take part in such a worthy cause.

"It's a lot of folks that are concerned citizens that want to utilize this as a free cleanup day," Hatfield said as trailer loads of everything from furniture to pianos and bicycles were brought in by residents.

""We always have a good turnout. It's a good way of cleaning up and getting people involved that love their community," he said. "People in Waskom are very proud of their community."

Hatfield thanked waste service, River City of Shreveport, La., for always providing the metal scrap dumpster free of charge.

"That's for metal, appliances, old lawn mowers - anything metal," said Hatfield. "We're trying to recycle some of this stuff. So, that's provided graciously by those folks."

He noted that the used tires were also going to be disposed of properly. Hatfield said he's just proud to represent the city, which is in Precinct 1 of the county.

"I'm proud to be able to take part in this," said Hatfield, thanking all for their involvement. "I try to be here every year. I'm just proud to serve the people of Precinct 1."

Waskom Police Chief Westy Meisenheimer said it's always a fun time.

"This is third year that we've done it here at this location and expanded it with scrap metal and tire," he said. "It's our spring cleaning when everybody pitches in.

"We make it a real community effort," he said, sharing how participants wear T-shirts, advertising "Waskom Annual Cleanup Day."

"For a lot of residents, it's not only cleaning up the town, (but) it is networking and people socializing with all of the neighbors," said Meisenheimer.

"It's kind of like a National Night Out, in a way," he said, sharing how they turn it into a cookout, grilling hot dogs and sausage. "It's our National Day Out. We're just cleaning up."

This year, a new banner directed all on where to come.

"We have generally around 200 (vehicles show up)," said Meisenheimer.

He said many show up bright and early, anxious to drop off their things.

"We've probably had 100 (vehicles) already," he said, observing the traffic around 10:30 a.m.

"They were here actually before we opened. They were lined up down the highway," said Meisenheimer."

He noted how thankful they are to the Harrison County Sheriff's Office's inmate work program, providing inmates to help residents and city officials unload the trailers full of old items and trash.

"We'll feed all these guys," he said. "They work like crazy getting this (done)."

Donna Hain, coordinator for the Harrison County Jail inmate worker program said they are pleased to provide assistance when needed.

"We always bring the workers down here," she said, noting she brought six members from the program to assist. "We just try to come here to try to help out."

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