Volunteers mobilize for spring cleanups along area roads, woods

  • Kara Kavanaugh, the recovery coach program supervisor at The RECOVER Project, paints the front window on Friday. For the Recorder/Catherine Hurley

  • Elizabeth Erickson, front, was joined by Chris LaRoche and Robbie Murphy at Colrain Central School as they yanked invasive species out of the slope behind the school. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Elizabeth Erickson and Robbie Murphy yank invasive species out of the slope behind Colrain Central School Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • This trillium wildflower is one of several found on the slope behind Colrain Central School as volunteers yanked invasive vines out of the ground. The group is hoping this flower and others around it can flourish with their newfound space. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Tim Hilchey picks up trash along Greenfield Road in Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Residents pick up trash along Greenfield Road in Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Anne Curtis (right) helps lead the trash cleanup along Greenfield Road in Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Published: 4/25/2022 9:53:57 AM
Modified: 4/25/2022 9:52:31 AM

As the weather warms up and people celebrated Earth Day over the weekend, folks around Franklin County took their spring cleaning beyond the walls of their homes and helped clean up their communities.

Cleaning kicks off in Greenfield

At The RECOVER Project in Greenfield, a handful of people gathered to pick up trash along Federal Street on Friday.

Near the Hangar Pub and Grill, Melanie Farr and her son, 11-year-old Henry Rollins, gathered pieces of glass, cans and wires into city-issued blue trash bags.

“It’s more inviting. It looks better,” Farr said of the street as she walked along, adding to her bag.

Inside The RECOVER Project office, Kara Kavanaugh, the recovery coach program supervisor, painted a scene of grass and flowers on the building’s front windows. Earth Day and the cleanup provided an opportunity to change the painting for spring, she said.

“It’s a city that keeps giving back, and we want to give back to the city,” Tom Lavoie, The RECOVER Project’s peer and community engagement coordinator said as he collected trash outside. “It’s pride. We live here.”

Spruce It Up Colrain

In Colrain, people were participating in the community cleanup event, Spruce It Up Colrain, as they swept through the streets of town looking for trash and yanked invasive species out of the ground behind the Colrain Central School.

The trio of Chris LaRoche, Elizabeth Erickson and Robbie Murphy took to the slope behind the elementary school Saturday morning as they pulled invasive vines like oriental bittersweet and multiflora rose out of the ground to open up access to the area.

“All these things were brought here to make people’s gardens look more exotic and beautiful,” Erickson said about the invasive plants.

“Our project today is to clear one spot and raise awareness for others,” LaRoche said, adding they have quite a bit of work ahead of them. “I’ve never seen it as bad as it is on the hill.”

Their plan is to open up the hill for kids to run around on. As it stood before Friday and Saturday’s cleanup, children would have spent more time carefully avoiding the labyrinth of vines and thorns than playing in and enjoying the space.

Additionally, the group found some wildflowers growing amongst the invasive plants and are hopeful they can flourish with their newfound space.

“We’re uncovering gems,” Erickson said.

Over at the Griswold Memorial Library, there were several family-friendly events set up for people to enjoy after cleaning their street.

Jonathan Lagreze, one of Spruce It Up Colrain’s organizers, said one of the main goals of the event was to build “community spirit,” which he thinks was successful.

“It’s been wonderful to see the turnout,” Lagreze said, “and to see the spirit of everyone spotted on the roads of Colrain.”

Even though Earth Day and Spruce It Up Colrain will pass, Lagreze said folks can keep cleaning the streets of their town for at least a few more weeks.

“Until the grass goes up and hides stuff,” he said, “get out there.”

Selectboard, school board candidates host Deerfield cleanup

As they distributed campaign signs along Greenfield Road, Deerfield Selectboard candidate Tim Hilchey and School Committee candidate Anne Curtis were disturbed by the amount of litter strewn upon the roadside.

“As we put our signs out,” Curtis said, “we made a mental note to pick up some trash.”

“We just noticed how dirty it was and said the least we could do is clean up the trash,” Hilchey added.

They rounded up a small group of residents to do just that Sunday afternoon. Included in the party was Deerfield resident Laurie Conlon, whom the candidates cited as an inspiration for the cleanup, having seen her doing similar work within the community prior.

“I run every day and I notice so much trash,” she said. “People noticed and were inspired because nobody likes litter.”

Conlon said while the prevalence of improperly-discarded trash is a problem that must be addressed, not all of it is a result of bad intentions.

“I think there’s a lot of nips and just kind of drink trash,” she said, “but I think a lot of it just blows off of trucks and stuff like that.”

Regardless of how the litter ended up where it did, Conlon said the involvement of Hilchey and Curtis is a matter of “walking the walk.”

“I love that candidates picked up on something and are showing that they’re really about the community,” she said of the candidates’ attention. “They don’t just show up on election day … and I feel like it’s important for voters to see that and be informed.”

“No matter what’s the outcome of the election,” Hilchey said, “we’ll have done something good for the town.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081. Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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