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Pastor, mayor join to promote cleanup of McKees Rocks streets

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07123/782871-57.stm West Neighborhoods Pastor, mayor join to promote cleanup of McKees Rocks streets Thursday, May 03, 2007 By
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2007
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      http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07123/782871-57.stm

      West Neighborhoods
      Pastor, mayor join to promote cleanup of McKees Rocks streets

      Thursday, May 03, 2007
      By Bob Podurgiel

      Pastor Tim Tomson, of St. Mary's Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and
      McKees Rocks Mayor Jack Muhr don't believe in the doctrine of
      "separation of church and state" when it comes to cleaning up the borough.

      They jointed with McKees Rocks Councilman Keith Schwab in cleaning
      litter on McCoy Road, Island Avenue and the ramps of the McKees Rocks
      Bridge in time for the influx of parishioners driving to Easter
      Sunday services.

      The threesome netted more than 30 bags of bottles, cans, candy
      wrappers, Styrofoam cups, potato chip bags and other refuse during
      cleanup detail April 6-7 in preparation for Easter.

      The Rev. Tomson said they received a number of positive comments from
      people who said they were doing a good job, gave them a thumbs up or
      said God bless them for the work they were doing.

      The cleanup had special significance for Father Tomson because it was
      Holy Week. McKees Rocks is home to more than a dozen ethnic parishes.
      Every year, many former residents return for Easter worship in their
      home parishes, where they were raised and received religious instruction.

      Father Tomson, who has been pastor at St. Mary's for six years, said
      he was embarrassed by the litter on borough highways.

      "It looked like a pig sty," Father Tomson remembered telling Mr.
      Muhr, who agreed something had to be done. Mr. Muhr enlisted the help
      of Mr. Schwab, who represents the ward where St. Mary's is, and,
      together, they tackled the project.

      They picked up most of the debris by hand and used rakes to snag
      hard-to-reach litter discarded on the hillside on McCoy Road. After
      two days, they accomplished their goal, but Father Tomson said he saw
      a bottle dumped on the roadway a day later.

      "Litter is like weeds," he said. "You try to eliminate them, but they
      pop right back."

      In light of the stubborn nature of the litter problem, he said, he
      has been talking with the mayor about cleaning up the two ramps from
      the McKees Rocks Bridge to the Bottoms every other week.

      While reflecting on his experience as a litter fighter, Father Tomson
      said there was both a spiritual and a practical aspect to the effort.

      "God asks us to be good stewards, to take care of God's creation. He
      has given us a pristine world, and it is up to us to take care of it.
      It is God's gift to us."

      He said there was a practical reason for cleaning up litter, one
      which political leaders who wrestle with keeping municipal spending
      within tight budgets can relate to.

      Litter creates costs for the borough. Discarded trash ends up in the
      municipal pump station and workers have to be called out to clean the
      pumps. It clogs up storm sewers, which have to be cleaned out by
      maintenance crews, Father Tomson said.

      He said that, in Europe, there is not nearly as much litter as there
      is in America.

      "Here, people don't think. They just toss it out of their cars
      without a second thought. It's ridiculous" he said.
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