The rain let up Saturday (Feb. 23) for “Duluth Matters” volunteers to pick up trash and clear underbrush from the former Cash & Sons lot near Duluth City Hall. Thirty-two volunteers responded to Councilman Billy Jones’ call to clean up the vacant lot.
Councilmen Jim Dugan and Kelly Kelkenberg joined Jones along with Duluth Parks & Recreation Department Director Kathy Marelle, Finance Manager Ken Sakmar, and Public Works Director Audrey Turner. Jason Brock of Public Works brought his son and nephew. Members of the Naval Jr. ROTC at Duluth High School pitched in to help. Several citizens also participated in the clean-up effort.
The lot is located between Big Jim’s Garden Center and the railroad. A “No dumping” sign on the lot has been ignored. The volunteers found old tires, bed frames, mattresses, fencing, plastic buckets, shoes, and other discarded items, according to Jones. Tree limbs, brush, leaves, and the discards were collected in three huge piles for Public Works to dispose of properly.
Councilman Kelkenberg donated hot dogs, buns and the fixings. He also brought his portable grill and cooked the hot dogs to feed volunteers at lunchtime. The Duluth Fall Festival contributed money for breakfast items. Eddie Owen, who manages the Red Clay Theatre, contributed soft drinks and bottled water.
"Duluth Matters" was recently founded by Jones to involve volunteers in community improvement projects. Its first project was making minor repairs and painting the basement at the Red Clay Theatre.
Jones is already looking around for other “Duluth Matters” projects. “We need permission from owners to go onto their property,” he said.