Earth Day began early this year as approximately 65 volunteers - including two dozen Secaucus high school juniors - put on hip boots, heavy clothing and work gloves on April 12 to wade along the shores of the Hackensack River as part of a yearly cleanup effort. The students from the Secaucus High School Help Our Planet Earth (HOPE) club, under the guidance of teachers Fred Ponti and Charles Voorhees, scoured the shores of the river for about a half a mile from Snipes Park from behind the WWOR studios to the Red Roof Inn. The town of Secaucus, the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission and the Hudson County Improvement Authority sponsored the event. Michael Gonnelli, superintendent of Secaucus Department of Public Works and a commissioner on the HMDC, said that along with the high school students, employees from Panasonic, The Crowne Plaza Hotel, Meadowlands Hospital, Home Depot and members of the Secaucus DPW helped in the cleanup. They braved the early spring chill to pick up beer cans, soda bottles and a variety of other items found along the shore. "We managed to fill two and half 20-foot roll off containers with debris that included old tires, wood and shopping carts," Gonnelli said. Crowne Plaza, a hotel firm which Gonnelli says is rapidly becoming a very active corporate citizen and aiding many of the public projects in Secaucus, supplied breakfast free to the volunteers. In his address to the volunteers during the breakfast, Gonnelli praised their efforts. "What we need is for more people like you to take an active interest in keeping our river clean," Gonnelli said. "It's a beautiful area; recreation is flourishing and it's up to us to keep it that way." The group then moved on to the Red Roof Inn, where they were initially expected to canoe out into the river with nets. "But high winds and strong currents made it a little too risky," Gonnelli said. Using the HMDC's pontoon boat, the Secaucus Volunteer Fire Department's rescue boat and the Secaucus Environmental Advisory Committee's boat, the volunteers managed to get out onto the water, Gonnelli said. After the cleanup detail, the volunteers and workers were treated to a chicken and ribs barbecue supplied under the HCIA's Clean Community Mini Grant program. It's only just begun
Earth Day events will continue throughout the month with several programs. Later this month, high school students with take canoes out onto Duck Pond in south end of Secaucus to help clear out debris that has collected there. Also, the town's Adopt-a-Block and Adopt-a Park programs will be collecting donations from individuals, businesses and others in an effort to increase the presence of trees along the streets. According to Gonnelli, the town has made significant strides through the program, saving many trees that might have vanished over the years and planting more than 1,000 new trees - as part of the efforts of the Secaucus Shade Tree Committee. Each contributor who donates $500 will have a plate bearing his or her name on the block or park adopted. Contributors of $100 will be included with four other names. In recognition of the donation, the town will honor contributors at the annual Arbor Day celebration on April 28. Arbor Day at Clarendon this year
Arbor Day festivities will be held at Clarendon School this year starting at 9:30 a.m. This will include opening remarks by the school's principal, Ralph Merlo, invocation by Rev. Mark Lewis of the Church of Our Saviour with Benediction by Msgr. Donald E. Gunther of Immaculate Conception Church and a welcome by Superintendent of Schools Constantino Scerbo. As has been the case for the last seven years, Jack Stuart of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will be on hand to award Secaucus its seventh Tree City USA distinction as well as Growth Awards for the town's ever expanding program. Mayor Dennis Elwell will read the Arbor Day proclamation and Huber Street and Clarendon Students will sing songs. Among those who will get recognition awards this year will be Mayor Dennis Elwell, County Executive Robert Janiszewski and HMDC Executive Director Alan Steinberg. Awards will be presented for the Arbor Day Art Contest. A special garden will be dedicated at the Clarendon School. After the ceremonies, cleanup crews will go to seven different parts of the town including Schmidts Woods, the Duck Pond, Fountain Park and around the schools. Flowers will be planted at a site on Koelle Boulevard.