The face of spring has changed dramatically this year as the fight against COVID-19 continues. Students are at home instead of in classrooms. Store employees and their customers are wearing face masks. Spring sports and other gatherings have been canceled.

But we are glad to see that the city of Laramie is carrying on with the annual Community Clean Up albeit with some wise changes and adaptations. Brian Forster, the city’s code enforcement officer deserves a lot of credit for pushing forward despite the many challenges.

In recent years Forster has been the chief organizer of this annual effort to rid Laramie of the accumulated trash, litter and rubble that piles up during the winter. The wind is one culprit, but others include motorists who fling trash from their vehicles, businesses that don’t control trash and homeowners who don’t pick up around their property.

It would have been easy for Forster and other city leaders to have just skipped the clean up this year considering all the challenges. Instead they are moving forward to make Laramie more attractive for all of us.

We appreciate their efforts and also those of the hundreds of volunteers who turn out every year to tackle the accumulated mess. Over the winter snow often hides the unsightly trash, but when that snow melts the debris all around town becomes painfully obvious.

One of the adaptations made due to the pandemic and in an attempt to maintain adequate distance between volunteers is to spread the clean up over 15 days (May 2 to May 16) instead of making it a one day affair. That’s a good idea because it allows volunteers to work a given area without being in close proximity to others. Since families often work together, this will also allow family groups with children to volunteer without incurring risk. Community members are needed even more this year, because so many UW students who would normally participate are no longer in Laramie.

Because the work is spread time wise, there is no central location to distribute empty bags or work assignments. Those needing bags, wanting to sign up or needing to have full bags picked up and hauled to the landfill should call 721-5285. It is important that groups and individuals sign up by calling for a particular area so priority areas are covered and groups don’t overlap.

Traditionally larger groups such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church organizations, service clubs and others have tackled some of the priority areas such as East Grand, Curtis Street and any of the I-80 exits into Laramie. We anticipate that they will adapt to the current realities and spread their workforce out over the available time to keep them safe.

Forster anticipates that many volunteers may truck full bags out to the landfill. He reminds residents of Laramie and Albany County that vouchers are available through the city’s web site (www.cityoflaramie.org/973/Landfill-Vouchers) in order for that disposal to be free.

We urge any resident to share in this important effort. Naturally, we want them to keep safe while doing so by wearing face masks if in proximity to others, wearing work gloves and substantial shoes as well as assuring that younger volunteers are not working in proximity to traffic. Individuals needing masks can contact Downtown Clinic at laramiedtc@gmail.com or 307-745-8445. The suggested donation is $5 for a reusable cloth mask or $10 to buy one and donate another.

In wandering some of Laramie’s neighborhoods, it is striking how many more people are walking for exercise and just to get some fresh air. It would certainly help if we made a habit of taking a trash bag along on those strolls and picked up our own neighborhoods along the way.

Every drink cup, plastic bag, food wrapper or chunk of cardboard that we pick up is one that we and our neighbors won’t have to look at again.

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