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Nome’s U-Call We-Haul Event Nearly Triples Trash Pickups

This year’s Spring Cleanup has been the most successful yet, according to Nome City Manager Glenn Steckman.

“There’s definitely more people visible you can see around town. And we’ve also had a higher number of people calling us to do the U-Call We-Haul, so it’s really been quite a success this year,” Steckman said.

U-Call We-Haul trash pickup requests nearly tripled from 2023, with sanitation employees still finishing pickups the Monday after the week-long event began due to the overwhelming response. In addition to the pickups for assorted trash and recycling, 37 vehicles were signed over to the City to be hauled away. 

In addition to the “picture perfect” weather for this year’s event, Steckman attributes this year’s success to the team at the Department of Public Works (DPW), improved outreach, and social media.

“I’m gonna give a lot of success to my executive office assistant, Angie Nguyen, and DPW. They’ve all gotten into the spirit. You can see we’re all running around in our green shirts, which is a new addition,” Steckman said. “We did a lot of Facebook and other social media and obviously the radio media has been a big help too.”

Saturday’s event at Old St. Joe’s hosted a steady flow of traffic throughout the event. Residents of all ages were free to stop by and take a break inside and pick up yellow bags for trash pickup around town. Free hot dogs and drinks were served by members of the Lions Club and Girl Scout Troop #534. 

Three dump truck stations in town received lots of traffic throughout the four hour event. For every bag of trash collected, event goers earned a raffle ticket. 12 tickets qualified for a chance at one of five kids bicycles. Families with their children and four legged friends could be spotted all over town holding yellow bags and picking up trash, bringing to life the event’s slogan, “A Clean Nome is a Clean Home”. 

Girl Scout Troop leader Sophia Pantelis supervised girls from Troop 534 at the Nome Recreation Center haul station. The young troopers were enthusiastic to help with the community service of Spring Cleanup, perhaps even more so to attend a bonfire planned for later in the afternoon.

Mary Reader can be spotted year round collecting trash. This did not stop her from participating in Saturday’s event as well to help her community. Sarah Swartz photo.

A mother of one of the Girl Scouts, Amy Payenna shared that events like the Spring Cleanup align with her family’s legacy of keeping Nome clean. 

“My son also loves to pick up trash. I’ve done this for several years. My grandma Caroline Reader was a big clean up person here in Nome, as well as my Aunt Mary. Everyone knows her and sees her picking up,” Payenna said.

Groups of friends on ATV’s with their children in tow took advantage of the nice weather while Credit Union 1 volunteers helped offload their trash at the recycling center haul station. A line of pickup trucks filled with garbage bags and waste were quickly emptied one by one as volunteers chipped in.

Cheryl Thompson, who formerly planned the Spring Cleanup, wasn’t off the hook this year. She volunteered her time to supervise students from Anvil City Science Academy that manned the dump truck at the Icy View Substation. Thompson shared how she was able to take advantage of Kawerak’s e-waste recycling program this year. 

“I was thrilled about the e-waste, for once I remembered and I brought almost a full truckload of e-waste today!” Thompson said.

What started as a simple spring cleaning initiative over a decade ago has grown into a community wide effort to keep Nome clean. Quality Auto accepted used car batteries and the Nome Lion’s Club prepared food provided by AC and Hanson’s.

Shortly after 4 p.m., families gathered back at Old St. Joes for the bike raffle. Five lucky kids were chosen and invited to take advantage of the remaining items on the “swag table”. City Manager Steckman thanked everyone for participating and doing their part in keeping Nome clean.

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