A clean sweep

Crews of volunteers spent their Saturday cleaning up communities in light of Earth Day. About 30 volunteers donned fluorescent yellow “Main Street Warren” pinnies as they were strategically sent into downtown Warren to sweep sidewalks and pick up litter.

“The point of this is to make Main Street visible and to change the perception of downtown,” said George Piscsalko, president of Main Street Warren.

The organization focuses on revitalizing the commercial district of the city by using historical restoration techniques, according to secretary Tami Candella. She said this is the second year that they have cleaned up downtown specifically for Earth Day but that the group has been active since at least 2008. Earth Day officially is Monday.

Volunteers with a large map at the downtown pavilion directed others to one of several zones between the Hot Dog Shoppe and Chestnut Avenue and Porter and South streets.

“It’s great to see all these people out here,” Piscsalko said.

Many of the volunteers were first-timers, like Raquel Haymon, who helped to sweep up litter and pick up sticks around the court house with Matt Allen.

“Just doing some community service,” Allen said.

A short drive away at Mosquito Lake State Park, 14 or so volunteers were participating in the Great American Clean Up. Among them was Cortland Girl Scout Troop 80020. Troop leader Angelique McKowan said she hopes the group of second-graders learn not just to take care of the environment but the value of group effort in accomplishing tasks.

Chuck Hetrick and his granddaughter Zoey Hetrick, 14, were also searching the park grounds for litter.

“We camp here a lot, but it’s our first year out with time to volunteer,” Chuck Hetrick said.