Whether the subject is lake debris or people in attendance, the totals this year at the Harrison Township or St. Clair Shores Annual Nautical Coast Clean Ups were astounding.
The clean ups, held on two separate weekends, were amazingly different weather-wise. Harrison Township, for the first time in their five year history was blessed with “steady to torrential rain,” per Maureen Mullin, Site Captain of the Riviera Street location. Along with the continuous rain, the wind held steady almost all day above 15 mph and kept the volunteers moving to produce warmth.
At Waterfront Park, the kick off site for the Harrison Township Clean Up, the rain drenched everything and wind off the lake made things very chilly. Yet you never would have known that when Regan Steen and Eric Sogge of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets stepped up to salute the colors. Their crisp appearance and unified step made for a great start to an incredibly soggy day.
Supervisor Ken Verkest followed the Cadets and led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. From there, Marge Kohler of St. Hubert’s Catholic Church, said a Native Blessing for all involved.Short, touching and inciteful, as the wind and rain surrounded us, their words gave the group the energetic send off for the day’s activities.
In contrast, the weather in St. Clair Shores this past weekend was spectacularly beautiful, and brought in a record breaking crowd of volunteers. “It was unreal,” says Joe St. John, Past Chairman, now Member Emeritus, of the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee.
“A local Church group brought 125 volunteers with them and the good weather definitely helped, too. We had about 300 to 400 people in attendance,” St. John continued.
As the St. Clair Shores group is in it’s 16th year, the fledgling group in Harrison Township with about one quarter of the volunteers, just over 100, broke their record of debris collected in 2010. 2010 totals amounted to 16.25 tons of debris removed from Lake St. Clair with about 85 people.
This year, with the help of a few more volunteers, the Harrison Township total of debris collected from Lake St. Clair amounted to 22.10 tons. That’s 44,200 pounds! The Riviera group alone brought in 16.56 tons of debris with approximately 30 people.
“We have a system here on Riviera after five years. And with the help of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department, their Deputy and eight trustees, which was coordinated by Tom Cleaver of the We Are Here Foundation; along with our dedicated neighbors, Township employees, generous donators and facilitators, we are able to accomplish some extraordinary feats here on Riviera and across the Township,” reports Event Coordinator, Teri Landis.
The debris totals from St. Clair Shores have not been seen at this point. However, Joe St. John shares that, “We filled four dumpsters and used one Peterson loader, which has about a 30 yard truck attached, which we also filled.”
Ken Kmieske, Past Commodore of the Jefferson Yacht Club where the St. Clair Shores “Lake St. Clair Celebration” party is held, tells us, “It’s a great opportunity for kids to get involved and the turn out was tremendous. We had more students and adults than we ever have. It was almost overwhelming as we needed more than 500 hot dogs to feed everyone.”
Kmieske continued saying, “The whole event was just great and the JYC is willing to help all we can.”
And speaking of help, the We Are Here Foundation and Tom Cleaver are key components in these local clean ups. Cleaver has been working with St. Clair Shores for a longer time, yet when help was requested by the Harrison Township folks, he was right there. An amazingly talented organizer, Tom is definitely a person to have on your team in any clean up experience.
Barbara Bollin, Chairman of the Harrison Township Environmental Committee, is Site Captain for the Spillway/Tucker Park location. She feels she has “been especially fortunate” to have a team consisting of cadets from the Civil Air Patrol, along with their adult leaders, Mike Fultz and Jim Healy.
“On behalf of the Harrison Township Environmental Committee, I would like to thank the adult leaders and cadets who came out on an unbelievably rainy day to help our township with a waterways cleanup,” remarked Bollin. Their “group certainly exemplies the discipline and attention to other-than-self goals of the Civil Air Patrol,” she finished sincerely.
The goals of the Metro Beach Maintenance Department for the Harrison Township Clean Up day were the reinstallation of the “Slow – No Wake” signs and the removal of tree branches and debris around “Dog Island.”
The debris cleanup was accomplished, per Mark Lietaert, by a volunteer who showed up and “cleaned up the debris around Dog Island, then traveled down past the Maintenance garage, back through the swampy area and then up the river where the seawall ends, in a canoe. His efforts in two days brought in another truck full to add to the other two truck loads of branches and trees we removed.”
In addition, those “Slow – No Wake” signs, three of them, were mounted on 4 x 4’s and reinstalled in the approrpiate places. “The weather was a complete deluge,” Mark laughingly explains. “Yet we still have to get the job done.”
Getting the job done into this week has been accomplished in Harrison Township by the trustees of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department, with oversite by one of their deputies and Tom Bane of the Harrison Township Maintenance Department. Because of their help, the Harley Ensign Site, 16 Mile Road, North and South River Roads, and the exit and entrance ramps to I-94 have also been able to be cleaned up.
And, to sum up, rain or shine, the job got done with the help of many helping hands, both in Harrison Township and St. Clair Shores, with the goal being the clean up of one of our favorite recreation locations – and it’s surrounding areas – our very own Lake St. Clair – our “Acres of Diamonds.”
To further help the cause, cars and/or boats can be donated to the We Are Here Foundation. The cars and boats are taken in, cleaned up with possibly some refurbishing and then sold. The funds are placed in the Foundation, to be used for similiar worthy causes. If you can help with a donation, please call the We Are Here Foundation at (586) 778-4478.