Trash taken away by teens

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

The teenage boy picked up the trash he found and just laughed. The metal was once part of an exhaust system, but now it was without a vehicle and rusted. While it wasn’t heavy, the metal piece’s size was beyond the capabilities of his small black trash bag.

“Won’t fit,” he said with a laugh as he waited for a supervisor’s advice.

While some students were spending spring breaks as a vacation from work and school, the youth of Teambuilders were doing their part to make Tucumcari a little more pleasant visually.

TeamBuilders is a children’s community mental health center whose mission is to provide an array of innovative, responsive, and client-centered services designed to empower children, families and community. 

Teambuilders has offices serving Curry, De Baca, Guadalupe, Harding, Quay, Roosevelt and neighboring counties in New Mexico.

Jimmy Garcia, a crisis prevention and intervention officer with Teambuilders, said each day during the spring break he and about half a dozen children with the center spent the morning picking up trash in an area that needed it.

Thursday found the group in a barren area between the Alco discount store and a residential block. Garcia said there was no particular pattern in picking locations.

“You just have to drive around town,” Garcia said. “If we see trash, we make it a pickup point and we get it cleaned up.”

The groups worked on a volunteer basis, but did receive some thanks from businesses that provided them with drinks during their work or lunch after the cleaning was completed.

Kathy Estrada of the Tucumcari Police Department works with code enforcement. Usually, when she gets a report of an unsightly area, she checks out the area and gives the property owner a 10-day period to clean it up. If it’s not cleaned up within 10-14 days, Estrada said, a criminal complaint is filed and court fees may result.

When people take the initiative to clean up areas, Estrada said, it helps beautify the city and eliminates the need for lengthy legal processes.

“They just picked an area that needed to be cleaned up and I appreciate it very much,” Estrada said.

In the case of the area behind Alco, Estrada said the business is pretty good about keeping the property clean but that most of the trash ends up in the area because of wind or littering.

“It’s not saying that a particular business (isn’t maintaining its area),” Estrada said. “It’s just saying that there is trash in town, and these people have made an effort to pick it up.”

Estrada said there will be a Clean America event in the city on the morning of April 29. Anybody interested in participating can visit the Chamber of Commerce or talk to Yvette Fazekas at the city’s Planning and Development department (461-2143).