Garberville/Redway Merchants Guild cleans up town; donations needed to continue work

Dave Brooksher

Redwood Times

Brian St. Claire works as the Community Service Supervisor for the Garberville Merchants Guild. For more than four months, he's been cleaning up leaves and litter around the storefronts, sidewalks and gutters of Garberville and Redway.

"I'm like the town detailer, so to speak. I get all the little stuff," St. Claire says. "A lot of cups, beverage containers, bags, trash, and all the cigarette butts that people drop. Those accumulate and they don't go away."

According to him, there are trouble spots in town that have a higher level of litter than others -- like the parking lot near Subway.

"Places where people congregate. Those are the ones that tend to be the worst," St. Claire says. "Several of the merchants decided that they needed to do something about the trash in town, and they decided that they would just pay someone to do it."

So far, he says he's been getting a lot of positive feedback from businesses and locals around town. "I've got a lot of people telling me that it's as clean or cleaner than they can remember," he said. "That's important to me. I was hired to do a job that needed to be done, and I really want to do the best job that I can."

The hours vary depending on weather, workload and available funding.

"It's super variable, " St. Claire says, "but I've been getting about 25 hours a week since I started."

"It's a very flexible, on-call kind of job," according to Dee Way with the Garberville/Redway Area Chamber of Commerce. "Sometimes it's 40 hours a week, but sometimes it's just 10. The fall leaves are always a big time; there's always extra hours then. In the height of the tourist season it always seems like there's more work. But it's a very flexible position."

The job is paid by voluntary donation through the Chamber of Commerce. According to Way, the guild includes over 60 active members. "Most of them are business owners," Way said, "but we do have some individuals who donate."

In the past, St. Claire's job was done by a man named Henry Cooper. After Cooper passed away in the summer of 2012, it was hard to fill the position.

"I think it gets a bad wrap because people think it makes them look like they're doing community service for a crime or something," Way said, "but the feedback I get from people I've employed has always been that they get a lot of feedback out there."