News: Cleaning for a cause
Story by Sgt. Elizabeth Cole
HONOLULU – On any given day of the week one can find runners, walkers, bicyclists and even motorcyclists zipping up and down the Pearl Harbor Bike Path in Waipahu, Hawaii.
For Sgt. 1st Class John Freese, operations noncommissioned officer with the 9th Mission Support Command, the daily commute, as he bikes from Ewa Beach to Fort Shafter Flats, here, can sometimes be an adventurous one.
“I’ve seen everything along the path, from scrap metal to wild pigs,” said Freese chuckling.
It is because of this kind of debris and trash found all along the bike path that Soldiers and civilians of the 9th Mission Support Command and U.S. Army Garrison – Hawaii joined forces to lend a helping hand in the Pearl Harbor Bike Path Clean Up, here, April 6.
Headed up by the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Environmental Services, the annual community event brought together approximately 250 volunteers from around the island to get their hands dirty, clearing things like old tires, shopping carts, and even wheelchairs from the path.
“This is a great event that really promotes stewardship for the community,” said Tonya Ketza, environmental manager for the City and County of Honolulu. “The path is a recreational resource that many people use whether for leisure or commuting. So, it’s important we do our part in keeping it clean.”
Freese explained the path provides a great way to get off the main roadways and out of traffic, as well as a safe way to commute. But, in his mind, it could still be even safer.
“Each time I bike the path, I see more and more safety hazards. This clean up not only adds to the beauty of this historic area but helps to eliminate those hazards I come across nearly every day,” said Freese.
The 9th MSC has been involved in helping with the clean up for six consecutive years. Wayne Mitsko, environmental manager for the 9th MSC, plays an important role in organizing the efforts for the command.
Mitsko explained that this is always an important event for the 9th MSC because it strengthens the relationship between the military and civilian communities a great deal. However, he would like to see even more participation in the years to come.
“This is a worthy effort and a chance for us to give back to the local community,” said Mitsko. “A few hours of our time goes a long way to improving the quality of life for all who enjoy the path whether biking, running or just wandering through.”