COALPORT — Shuttered schools left Linda and Will Wagner, of Coalport, with additional time during the day to fill.
Linda Wagner drives a school van for Tri-County Transportation and her husband, Will Wagner, is a student aide for the Cambria Heights School District. That school, like others across the commonwealth, is closed as per Gov. Tom Wolf’s order to slow the spread of coronavirus, leaving the Wagner’s additional time to do projects during the day. Some of that unscheduled time has been designated to what the Wagner’s find satisfaction in – cleaning up trash along local highways.
The couple moved back to the Coalport area from Mount Union more than three years ago after being able to purchase some of the property that was originally part of Linda Wagner’s grandparents, Clyde and Myrtle Kruis’ farm.
“We wanted to come back here. This area is just so calm and peaceful. It’s really beautiful here. It upsets me so much that people just throw out their litter when they could take it home and throw it away or recycle it,” she said.
Linda Wagner said the couple has been picking up litter along Gill Hollow Road and Route 53 between Coalport and Flinton for about three years but most recently because they have extra time on their hands because school is not in session, they are devoting additional time to the venture.
The couple, in recent weeks, has collected approximately 20 bags of trash. Linda Wagner said when the couple has a number of filled bags they contact the state Department of Transportation, which is willing to take the trash because it was collected from alongside a state highway.
She said it is upsetting to her and her husband that people throw trash out of their vehicles as they are traveling.
“This area is just so beautiful and these roads are close to Prince Gallitzin State Park, which brings a lot of people to the area and helps the local economy. I just don’t understand it. I know if I were coming here as a visitor and saw all that trash along the highway, I’d be so disappointed. We don’t do this for praise or glory, we do it because as Christians we believe God has given us this land to use temporarily. We need to take care of it,” she explained.
While trash along the roads is disheartening, it can also be dangerous to those who are walking there and wildlife who reside in the wooded areas along the roads. “We find so many broken bottles where the deer walk,” she said.
Wagner recounted some of the things they have found recently including a bag of tableware and pots and pans, a cell phone and other items with life still left in them. She said she called the number on the cell phone for lost phones but the call was not returned. “That is the really sad thing is that much of what we’ve found could be recycled or reused.”
Saying she believes recycling is very important, Wagner noted that Coalport no longer has a recycling program however she is able to take her items for recycling to nearby Patton in Cambria County where they are accepted.
She said it doesn’t take any special skills to clean up trash from the side of the highways. She said it’s something many could do but shouldn’t have to. “I would like to tell people, think before you throw something out of a vehicle’s window.”