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Dump day a success despite bad weather

B.H. Bose

Despite some dumping by Mother Nature in the form of snow, South Lake Tahoe residents showed up in droves to dump their trash during the Clean Tahoe Program’s annual dump day Saturday at South Tahoe Refuse.

“I think the turnout is excellent,” Mauro Capone said, as he looked down Ruth street at the line of trucks waiting to dump their loads. “There are more people today then there has been in the past on sunny days.”

The Clean Tahoe Program, a nonprofit organization with the goal of cleaning the Tahoe area from Tahoma to Stateline to the bottom of Luther Pass, evolved from one annual dump day to a year-long project, City Council member Margo Osti said.

“It really began as a free community dump day, but then the community said we wanted more than one day, so the Clean Tahoe Program developed into a part-time summer program,” said Osti, who is vice president of the program’s board of directors. “Even that wasn’t enough, so we got a grant written, got a truck and soon became year-round.”

Currently, the program operates with three full-time members who pick up litter all year. While it receives a portion of residential fees and county parcel fees for funding, grants from the state have really helped the program get up and running.

“We have been able to get outside contracts and have been very fortunate with the state of California, which has given us hundreds to thousands in funds,” Osti said, referring to grant funding from the California Department of Conservation – Division of Recycling. “We have been able to off-set our costs through their grants.”

With the funding, the program has been able to purchase benches made of recycled plastic for bus stops, trucks and trash cans. A fourth truck is needed, added Osti, and the state has invited those at Clean Tahoe to write another grant request.

As for the annual dump day that took place Saturday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., residents were able to dump everything and anything, except refrigerators, they could fit in one normal-sized truck for just $5. Others, helping clean up their neighbors yards or community lots, were able to dump for free.

“We have been doing this annual dump day for a long time,” said Sandy Belstler, program assistant. “We get people who come back every half-hour. Sometimes we get people coming in here in huge, U-Haul vans.”

Those who did dump a load in a truck considered to be more than three-quarters of a ton, were charged more than $5. However, most people were simply taking advantage of the low fees to get rid of some of their “junk,” and used average-sized trucks.

“I am getting rid of some trash,” said David Johns, who was waiting in line to dump his second load. “I am cleaning up the city, but more importantly my own yard.”

South Lake Tahoe resident Ed Neely concurred. “I am dumping mostly pine needles and cleaning my yard so my neighbor doesn’t complain,” he said jokingly.

While the exact numbers are still being tabulated, all those helping with the annual dump day were very pleased with the turnout – especially considering the weather.

“We are having a really good day. Just think all of this is out of people’s yards,” said Belstler, as she looked at the trucks waiting.

“It is going great,” added Osti. “We are really excited. We had a blizzard this morning and still had a line going around the block.”

Capone, who came up from Placerville just to volunteer, was just making sure those who decided to spend their Saturday cleaning and dumping were having the most fun possible.

“I think the turnout is excellent. It is nothing like the days when it was free, we had lines around the block and up to Highway 50,” he said, trying to fight off a bitter, snowy breeze. “Still, it is really good. I always feel that everyone should have a good time, because nobody wants to spend the day dumping trash. And boy, we are having fun.”

For more information regarding the Clean Tahoe Program, call 544-4210.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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