In 1967 Paul McCartney wrote a song for the Sgt. Pepper's album called "Getting Better." Philips Electronics used it for a major marketing campaign in 2001. I had the opportunity to ride my bike around Modesto the other day, and as I was riding I was noticing that there were very few signs of tagging. That song entered my mind, and I actually started to hum the melody. Things are getting better. I was also in downtown Turlock and noticed the same thing. Yes, we have challenges in Stanislaus County. But you know what's great? People are coming together to do something about the challenges. Whether it's the county's Focus on Prevention campaign in which we are addressing homelessness first, or the City of Modesto's anti-tagging efforts, good things are happening.
The City of Modesto isn't alone in its graffiti removal efforts. The City of Turlock has city crews out on a regular basis to remove trash from around highly visible areas. The Modesto Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the City of Modesto, the City of Ceres, the City of Turlock and Caltrans, is focusing on an effort to beautify the 99 Freeway.
One local citizen can also make a big difference. Modestan Chris Guptill has organized an effort to clean up along the Tuolumne River. His group spent a good part of Saturday, November 14 completely cleaning the entire south bank of the Tuolumne River from the 99 Freeway west through Dryden Golf Course— likely for the first time in a generation. They passed the 1,000 volunteer mark earlier this month and taking the place of the blight in this area is a new trail for hiking, biking, and horseback riding that will soon reach over 3.5 miles in length from Beardbrook Park, through Gateway Park and along Dryden golf course.
The volunteer effort on Nov. 14 included 90 volunteers who did an outstanding job of r the entire area to a state of which the community can be proud. They removed 25 shopping carts, 25 tires, and completely filled two 40 cubic yard dumpsters for a total of about 15 tons of garbage and material removed from the riverbank and along the golf course. The majority of volunteers were students from Davis, Beyer, Enochs, Johansen, MJC and Stanislaus State representing Key Club, CSF, Interact, Environmental Clubs, and AVID, along with individual volunteers who stepped up when their community needed them most. This continues to be true community collaboration and effort and we hope to see people recreating in this clean, natural, and one-of-a-kind river setting that we have in the heart of our community. With small and simple things, great things can come to pass.