Golden Valley homes, yards and desert landscape are cleaner than they've been for years.
Volunteers on Saturday worked steadily from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the first community cleanup effort in several years, emptying trucks, trailers, cars and vans of accumulated trash, furniture, appliances and tires.
Chuck and Lupe Gibson of Golden Valley organized the cleanup.
"Chuck is on the board of the Kingman Clean City committee," Lupe said. "We live here in Golden Valley and we saw the need for something like that here. We couldn't be happier with the response."
Before the gates opened at 8 a.m. at the county road department yard on Chino Drive, a dozen trucks and trailers loaded with refuse were waiting. The line moved quickly, volunteers emptying the vehicles' contents into large dump trailers. A small tractor with a blade compacted the refuse, maximizing the room available. As the dump trailers filled, Westside Disposal took them away and replaced them with empty ones.
Despite the speed and efficiency of the cleanup crew, by 10 a.m. the line of trash-laden waiting private vehicles had grown and extended three blocks eastward on Chino, and the volunteers continued to work quickly and efficiently. Tires, refrigerators and freezers went to one side, where the tires awaited removal, and where a certified technician removed the Freon from the appliances.
Lupe said she and Chuck did some trash gathering of their own.
"Chuck took our trailer out into the washes and along some of the roads and we picked up washers, dyers, lots of tires, a hot water heater, all stuff that people had dumped out here," she said. "We're going to ask for vouchers so that we can get out there again and pick up more things to take to the dump when this is over."
Gary Sipple, head of the county's ERACE community and desert cleanup program, said Golden Valley residents obviously appreciated the chance to get rid of their collections of garbage and unwanted large items.
"This is a great turnout," he said. "Even County Supervisor Tom Sockwell and his wife are here to help. Tom has been going down the line of trucks out there along the street, talking to people and thanking them for coming out for this."
Sockwell and his wife, Sandy, were dressed for the occasion, wearing jeans, work boots and leather gloves.
Lupe said she planned to put them to work directing traffic.
"You're too important to take a chance of having something heavy fall on you," she said, laughing.
"We're not strangers to this kind of work," Sandy said. "We came ready to work."
Lupe said she hopes the county can find the money to allow the cleanups to continue on a regular basis.
Sockwell said he plans to approach the Board of Supervisors with a request to make it possible for twice-yearly community cleanup days in Golden Valley.
"This is great," he said. "It looks like it's a huge success. Other communities have cleanup days, but there hasn't been anything like that for the residents of Golden Valley. It's clear that this is needed and really appreciated, and I'll do what I can to get this done for you twice a year. This could be an effective deterrent to keep people from dumping junk and trash in the desert."
Residents who took advantage of the cleanup opportunity were equally pleased, many of standing outside their vehicles and talking to others as they waited their turn, others shouting greetings and waving from the windows as they drove inside the gate.
Some of the volunteers were community residents and business people, but most were the 20 adults and several juveniles on probation for various violations and assigned to serve community service hours.
"A lot of the adult probationers have full-time jobs, so they can only take care of the community service obligation on weekends," said Roger Stewart, Mohave County surveillance officer overseeing the probation volunteers' work. "There are 20 adults here under my supervision, and Jim Jacob has a group of juvenile probationers here, too."
Those who are jobless also help on weekday projects, including painting and erecting playground equipment at the schools in the county.
"We'll be installing playground equipment at EAGLE Academy later this month," Stewart said. "We also talk to people and businesses in the communities where we're working, asking them if they have work for our probationers who are out of jobs. We want them to be able to work and support their families, and they want that, too."
He said his department and the cleanup effort share an important goal: people helping people.
Stewart said he spends time every Wednesday talking to the probationers assigned to him.
"We try to get to know them as people, not just as offenders," he said. "We get to know their kids' names and how things are going at home. We care about them as people and we want to help them help themselves."