Hendry to kick off cleanup events in Pioneer

Hendry County officials have scheduled several community cleanup events to take place throughout the county in the coming months, and they are set to kick off this Saturday, July 14, in the Pioneer and Ladeca areas near Clewiston.

Activities this weekend will revolve around the central gathering place of Pioneer Community Center, which is located at 910 Panama Ave.

Several disposal bins will be brought to the site by the county’s vendor, Waste Connections, and the Hendry County Solid Waste Department. Free drop-off and disposal of unwanted items will be available beginning at 9 a.m. Things that residents want to get rid of may be brought to the bins and will be accepted until the bins are full, including household hazardous-waste materials, old tires, yard debris, castoff TVs, electronic equipment and more. All those participating in the communitywide cleanup will be entered to win a gift card. “We’re going to have six events over the next two and a half months,” Hendry County Administrator Charles Chapman explained, “and they’re going to be located in the various unincorporated areas. We do one every year, and primarily they’re in the summer, in preparation for the hottest part of hurricane season for us — that late August through October time frame that normally plagues the state of Florida and, in particular, our area.” The county has been publicizing the “amnesty day”-type cleanups on its Facebook page. One person questioned in a comment last week: “Any reason why you would choose the hottest month to do this? It’s almost impossible to find volunteers.”

But according to Mr. Chapman, these are direct citizen-involvement events. Volunteers per se are not being sought, except that homeowners are encouraged to voluntarily clean up whatever eyesores might be on their own properties. This, he explained, spares county code enforcement officers from having to cite owners of land where there may be code violations.

Mr. Chapman confirmed that these cleanups are intended to provide a needed service and are part of Hendry County’s overall code enforcement effort, which the county commissioners have been pushing.

“We have two philosophies at play with this,” he said. “One is to basically provide a free amnesty-day service for communities to basically clean up on their own, without having to go to the transfer station, without having to haul it very far, just to have an event right close by that they can attend to fairly quickly.

“And the second piece is, we’ll have other county departments available to distribute information at the event about the other services that we provide. So for instance, Emergency Management (personnel) will be out and about to help people, assist them with registering for the special-needs shelter, or give them information about what needs to be in their hurricane survival kit, or any number of other different items that may be emergency- or hurricane preparedness-related.”

Information also will be provided about the Code Enforcement Department’s efforts. They will distribute fliers in both English and Spanish, Mr. Chapman said, that will inform them “what is acceptable in communities, what does it mean to be code-compliant, what are some examples?”

“It’s a dual purpose, in that we can get better prepared for hurricane season,” he said, “(and) so that people can leave, not only having a free service to get rid of some of the debris in their yard, or some white goods, or trash from their properties, but also to leave with some information about county services and how to be better prepared and what does it mean to have pride in their communities.”

Any questions may be directed to the Hendry County administrator’s office by calling 863-675-5220.

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