Campbell friends decide to clean up

By jeanne starmack


They got together on Facebook, this group of Campbell friends, and they talked.

They complained among themselves about the state of the city, and they talked some more, until, finally, the time for talk was over.

“We said, ‘Enough talking,’” remembered Campbell resident Jeff Opencar.

“We said, ‘If we don’t meet, nothing is going to change,’” said Annette Tovarnak, a teacher at Campbell Elementary School.

So meet they did, at the community center in Roosevelt Park in August.

Twenty-five people met and launched a plan — to dedicate themselves to the restoration of Campbell, said Opencar, who along with Tovarnak, Nick Galantis and Gerald Hamilton of Neighborhood Ministries helped organize the group that they now call The Campbell Pride Project.

“We met in August and thought, ‘What could we do that doesn’t cost a lot — a cleanup,’” Tovarnak explained.

So on Saturday, the group will meet at 9 a.m. at city hall. There are about 40 people expected, including the Little Red Devils and cheerleaders, high-school students from the National Honor Society and members of the Mahoning County Green Team.

But anyone who wants to see Campbell with less litter and blight and fewer weeds and tires is invited to join in.

“We’re going to try to make it a complete citywide effort,” said Hamilton as he, Opencar and Tovarnak gathered Thursday to explain their plan at what will be Saturday’s starting point for the cleanup — Wilson Avenue at Coitsville Road.

“We’ll put people in teams, with two adults to eight to 10 kids,” Harrison said. “We’ll transport to work sites from this corner to Fairview and from here to the city limits on Wilson, and up Coitsville to the Wasko [funeral home] parking lot,” he said.

Wilson Avenue, along the city’s old industrial area, should be as attractive as possible to entice businesses to locate there, Opencar said.

But eventually, the group would like to spruce up all the gateways to the city.

Donating toward this first effort are: Stanley Steemer, contributing trash bags and gas for mowers and weed-whackers; Soup City Designs, gas and gloves; The Green Team, safety vests; and the elementary school’s Parent Teacher Organization and the city water department, which are supplying water.

“We’re hoping it’s a good event and everyone gets encouraged by it,” Tovarnak said.

Cleaning crime out of Campbell also is a priority for the group. Tovarnak said there will be a meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Community Center in Roosevelt Park for people who are interested in helping to start Block Watch programs.

Campbell Detective Sgt. John Rusnak is expected to speak there.

“We have a lot of older people who want to help and can’t come out and pull weeds,” Tovarnak said. “This is a way to get them involved.”

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