Hermiston "Clean Sweep" Clears 60 Tons of Junk from City

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The Hermiston area is a lot cleaner this week after Saturday’s “Hermiston Clean Sweep” event hauled away more than 60 tons of hard to get rid of items like tires, paint, appliances, and scrap metal.  The event was a top goal of the Hermiston City Council last year when it formed the Community Enhancement Committee to help polish the city’s image.  The city sponsored the event at a cost of nearly $4,000 to assist residents with disposing and recycling difficult items to get rid of.  This year the event was open to residents  from Umatilla and Morrow Counties.  For future years, the City will be seeking finical support from Umatilla and Morrow Counties to keep the event open to non-residents of Hermiston.

“I would say it was probably about a 50-50 split of people from inside of the city and those outside of the city, but if we can help clean up some of the properties surrounding us out in the County it still helps Hermiston look better,” said Larry Fetter, City Parks & Recreation Director who led the cleanup event.

One of the main goals of the event was to help residents get rid of items that may have been cluttering their properties for some time because they are hard to get rid of.  At the end of the day residents dropped off 25 tons of tires, 11 tons of concrete, 8 tons of scrap metal, 4 tons of wood, 4 tons of electronics, 2 tons of plastic, 2 tons of upholstered furniture, and nearly 1,000 gallons of paint.

“That’s a lot of junk that isn’t going to stay stacked up in people’s yards, garages, and driveways,” said Mike Marcum, Hermiston’s Code Enforcement Officer.  “I couldn’t be happier with the turnout.”

The Clean Sweep event is intended to be part of a two-pronged approach to cleaning up the City.  Marcum handed out warnings and information about the event to residents who were out of compliance with city code in the weeks leading up to the free disposal event.  Now that the event has passed, the City will be more strict with property owners who don’t clean up around their properties creating a nuisance.

In the Spring of 2013 the City made several changes to its nuisance ordinance, which shortened the length of time that property owners have to clean up, and clarified that the City will do it for them if the owner doesn’t meet the deadline.  The City then set aside $50,000 in seed-money to pay for abating nuisance properties and retained Demos Enterprises to do the cleanup work.  Now, once a property owner is notified to clean their property, Demos is also notified and the clock starts to run.  If the owner doesn’t clean their property on time, then the City immediately sends in Demos and bills the property owner for the cost.  If the owner doesn’t pay, then the city liens the property to recoup the cost for the abatement fund.


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