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Cleaning up Ceres has great benefits
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I recently observed a man and woman on a walk near Smyrna Park. The man had a plastic bucket and a device for picking up trash. His bucket was nearly full of rubbish he had collected as a result of people who had littered or failed to clean up after picnicking. I was pleasantly surprised to see a resident cleaning up the park in the spirit of community pride. Another Ceres couple met with me recently with the hope of starting a community-based initiative to clean Ceres up, using volunteers and public education.

Studies has shown a relationship between neighborhood blight and crime. Where there is litter, tagging and other forms of blight, criminals are sure to be present because they can operate in a vacuum where no one seems to care and are unlikely to call the police.

We cannot use the excuse of being poor in this county to justify a lack of concern for how our neighborhoods look. It is all about awareness and attitude. I have been to small communities in Mexico where the streets are made of dirt, there is no running water, the homes have no windows and the level of poverty is breath-taking. Yet, these small communities are spotless, litter free and the residents show pride.

In Ceres, our Code Enforcement Unit hauls off 81 tons of trash and discards every year. The graffiti removal contractor is busy removing tagging almost every day of the year. With our limited resources, we abate numerous properties overgrown with weeds or that are littered with discards every year. But the aforementioned efforts are being done by just three people, which is far too few to keep this city looking like it should. It takes a community effort to reach that level and to keep it there.

The community appearance effort has to be addressed through a comprehensive effort. First, people must stop littering! Pickup trucks hauling trash should be covered properly, and if everyone picked up litter as they walk through neighborhoods, parks, and parking lots, we could see an almost instant and significant improvement in how our city looks.

On June 25, Ceres will have its second "Love Ceres" event, which involves hundreds of people tackling clean-up projects throughout the community. It makes a big difference and shows that the desire for a clean community is strong.

Law enforcement also has its role, and for those who litter or dump trash, old furniture and appliances, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

For information about the Love Ceres program and signing up to participate, check I know that the people who want a nice community far outnumber those who trash it and do not care. We can achieve our goal through unity and a bit of effort.