BREWER, Maine — Some of the hundreds of volunteers who removed more than 4 tons of trash during Saturday’s morning cleanup of the Penobscot River and other waterways in Brewer actually found “treasure.”
“I found an old Chevy moon hubcap from the 1920s,” City Councilor Kevin O’Connell said. “Two years ago I got a ceramic license plate. Are they historic? Sure, they’re older than me.”
The city’s Stormwater Public Education and Participation Committee has hosted the annual river cleanup for eight years and O’Connell has participated for the last six, focusing his efforts along the banks of the Sedgeunkedunk Stream in South Brewer.
“We found an old 1930s freezer with a crank handle,” said Nicole Hanson, who helped organize volunteers from Brewer’s two Boy Scouts clubs, Troop 1 and Troop 15, and Brownie Troop 911. “Do you want to see it? I’ve got it in the truck. It still has the handle.”
Some of the trash was unique and interesting, said Dedham resident Heidi Fish, who was part of a group of nine, including some members of Girl Scout Troop 351 from Dedham.
“We found an old, homemade jar of jam that had never been opened” off Sparks Avenue, she said. “We think it was grape. It was purple, but it had seeds in it.”
Over the last eight years, volunteers young and old have removed more than 35 tons of trash, including discarded refrigerators, mattresses, metal and clothing, during the annual cleanup along the Penobscot River, its tributaries and other sensitive areas in Brewer.
More than a dozen Brewer firefighters, clubs such as longtime participants Geocaching in Maine, and groups from local businesses, including CES Inc., Brewer’s U.S. Cellular store and Somic America Inc., formerly known as Brewer Automotive Components, also participated.
Jeff’s Catering sponsored the noontime thank-you picnic at Brewer Auditorium and the local Dunkin’ Donuts brought coffee and donuts for volunteers early Saturday.
Even though around 4 tons of trash was collected this year, almost everyone reported finding less trash than in years past, Ken Locke, the city’s environmental services director, told volunteers at the picnic.
“Maybe we’re making progress,” he said.
“We found very little trash because we’ve done it every year,” said Hanson, who, along with the Scouts, cleans up around Eaton Brook. “We only walked out with two trash bags, compared to 20 the first year.”
“It’s working,” said O’Connell.