As I sat down to type this story about Kent’s new anti-graffiti campaign T.A.G. (Together Against Graffiti) I had one of those moments where all of a sudden I realized that my kids have outgrown the old game of tag. Wow, where does the time go? But thanks to community volunteers in Kent, there’s a new game of tag in town, and just like the original — it can be physically exhausting but it’s also very rewarding. But don’t take my word for it, just look at the happy faces of the 100 volunteers that showed up in downtown Kent this weekend armed with scrub brushes and trash bags. This may be a grass roots effort but it’s no “fly by night” operation — and as a matter of fact, we’ve added a graffiti link to the Kent360 site (select “graffiti” from links in upper right column) to report graffiti all year long.
Residents, students volunteer to clean up
By: Joe Harrington
It is a special day when college students voluntarily wear neon green vests, carry shovels and sweep up trash in downtown Kent on a Saturday morning.
Saturday was Earth Day, and Brad Slease, treasurer of the Human Service Management Student Association, Kent State graduate student and Kent resident for more than 40 years, said “Mother Nature said to go out and clean today.”
With clear skies and a 70-degree temperature, around 100 volunteers gathered at the Rock CafÉ in downtown Kent at 10 a.m. From there, the volunteers went across the city in groups of five to pick up trash, remove graffiti and sweep up broken glass on the sidewalks. Volunteers were then treated to free food from Jimmy John’s and Franklin Square Deli.
The groups cleaned streets from Haymaker Parkway to Crain Avenue, cleaning alley ways, parks and sidewalks.
The event featured several different organizations: Human Service Management Student Association, Center for Student Involvement and the AmeriCorps VISTA Program, along with members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Community members also volunteered, fulfilling one of the main project goals of getting Kent State students and area residents working together, Slease said.
Each group had planned to do some sort of activity for Earth Day; some began planning in January. Paul Myers, a Kent resident who has been involved in many community activities in the past, began working on combining the campus and community groups for a massive spring cleaning on Earth Day. Myers said events like these will build a stronger bond and relationship with Kent State students and the community.
Slease and Myers plan on organizing clean-up days, such as the one on Saturday, twice a year.
“Once before the snow, and once after the snow,” Slease said.
Students involved in the clean-up represented a wide variety of majors and programs.
Pam Daly, senior human development and family studies major, is the president of the Human Service Management Student Association. Daly said the collaboration of students and groups made the event more important and special.
The Human Service Management Student Association, a student group open to all majors, provides students with opportunities to provide community service and learn about careers in the non-profit sector. The student group has worked with UNICEF, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Matt Haramis, who graduated last May from Kent State and now works for the AmeriCorps VISTA program, said Earth Day was an important day for students to volunteer.
“We are the fosters of the Earth, and we need to make sure we take care of it for future generations,” Haramis said.
Delta Tau Delta became involved when Haramis talked to members of the fraternity’s philanthropy group. Sophomore photography major Max Recker said the group has been involved with Habitat for Humanity and is signed up for the Rely for Life this weekend.
“Earth Day is a great cause,” Recker said. “I wish more people would get involved.”
“Once before the snow, and once after the snow,” Slease said.
Cleanup of downtown Kent planned Saturday Organizer hopes to hold event twice a year
By Matt Fredmonsky
Record-Courier staff writer
After a year off, city residents and officials are organizing a cleanup of downtown Kent from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Kent resident Brad Slease, who also is a student at Kent State University, worked with members of the city government, downtown business owners and organizations at KSU to help bring people together to clean up trash and debris throughout downtown.
Slease said he is expecting about 100 people will participate.
“It’s going to be incredible,” Slease said.
This is Slease’s second effort at clearing downtown streets and sidewalks of cigarette butts, broken glass and other litter. A small effort took place in 2005, but he did not have the time to organize the cleanup last year. Slease is hopeful to begin organizing the event twice a year — before and after the summer months.
“This thing has blown up in the last two days right in front of me,” Slease said. “It’s not just Kent but KSU people coming together and that’s been long overdue.”
Those people who wish to participate in this weekend’s cleanup can meet at The Rock Cafe, located at 257 S. Water St. Serving as the cleanup headquarters, the cafe will stock environmentally safe paint remover, trash bags and brooms along with refreshments.
Paul Myers, owner of the cafe, said he also will be kicking off the TAG program, which stands for Together Against Graffiti, this Saturday.
“We’re literally going to be cleaning graffiti off where we find it,” Myers said. He plans to help educate students at KSU and Kent City Schools on the ramifications of graffiti. Myers also is working with Sherwin Williams and is hopeful to launch a Web site in the future to help clean up and prevent graffiti.
“Not just from the vandalism side of it, but just the whole morale,” Myers said. “The looks of a downtown area, and what do you do to report it.”
Kent Service Director Gene Roberts said the city has arranged for a large trash bin to be placed on West Main Street near Home Savings Plaza for the cleanup. The city also coordinated with the Portage County Solid Waste Management District to obtain recycling bins for glass, plastic and paper to be on hand at the event.
Slease said he plans to send people out in one large group to scour downtown from Crain Avenue south to Haymaker Parkway, and from Depeyster Street west to the parks along the Cuyahoga River.
“It’s just going to make a better place to live,” he said.