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Poor trash handling adds to blight
When it comes to litter and blight, people do not seem to notice when it no longer exists, so it is sometimes difficult to see the results of the constant effort that is being made to clean up the messes that are created in our community. Each year, city crews remove 48.5 tons of trash and blight from public places throughout Ceres, and in doing so, they have made a huge dent in what was a serious blight problem in our community.

Several years ago, Ceres was plagued with problems of unsightly litter, blight, illegal signs and gang graffiti to the extent that we, at that time, we were routinely referred to as a "messy city." No doubt there is still room for improvement; there will always be people discarding trash, soiled diapers, household items, appliances, tires, garden clippings, and the like onto our streets, vacant lots and other places. The key is getting the offenders to properly dispose of their trash and unwanted items, instead of destroying the aesthetics of our community. City crews are also an important part of this equation, as they are constantly working to help make this city as attractive as possible.

One thing that contributes to the problem of trash along our streets is the result of people hauling items to the dump without covering or properly tying down their loads, which results in garbage flying all over the place as their vehicles travel on our roadways. This is very common for privately-owned vehicles, and we have noticed that some commercial garbage haulers also contribute to the problem when trash and litter escapes the truck's container as a result of inadequately-covered loads. To the extent that these litter sources are significantly adding to the problem, the police have renewed their commitment to enforcing the laws for properly covering loads and to issue citations for littering and related vehicle code violations.

Household garbage that is not bagged can easily be blown from the containers awaiting garbage company pick-ups. Commercial dumpsters are also a problem when papers and other lightweight items (like packing "peanuts" and bubble wrap) are thrown away without being bagged. Dumpster divers are also known for opening up bags in search for recyclables, which also leads to trash being blown around the community when the wind comes up. Overfilling trash cans and dumpsters is a major contributor to the problem, so it is important to avoid those situations.

In summary, the steps that should be taken to help curtail the blight problem are to bag and tie household trash for pick-up or hauling. Secure all loads headed for the dump such that trash cannot escape. Report dumpster divers who are tearing open bags and making a mess, do not overfill garbage receptacle, recycle as much as possible, and, whenever possible, pick up trash and deposit it in the appropriate container - whether in a parking lot, along sidewalks and streets, or in our parks.

And, finally, the most important aspect of having a clean and pleasant community is the attitude of the people living here. When people care, take pride in their neighborhoods and make the effort to clean up their community, it is contagious and that behaviour tends to spread; just as once littering starts, the problem almost always grows. The cleanest cities are the safest cities, and everyone needs to pitch in. City crews are doing what they can with their limited resources, and once enough members of the public join in the effort, we can achieve success and enjoy a nicer community.