Two city men remain amazed at amount of garbage tossed on streets
By Heather Rivers STAFF WRITER
Monday August 13, 2007
|CLEANING UP THE MESS: Bill Empey, left and Bill Taylor want to make the city a cleaner place to live.
Photo By Heather Rivers
WOODSTOCK – These Woodstock champions of the environment want to make the Friendly City a better, cleaner place to live and raise a family.
Their message to residents is simple – stop using city streets like you’d use a garbage can.
“I wish the people would just stop littering,” Bill Empey said.
For five months of the year Empey, 75, with help from his friend Bill Taylor, 45, wander a two-block area surrounding their Canterbury Street apartment, picking up what others have carelessly thrown aside.
It all started in 2005, when Empey happened to notice an abundance of trash on the streets of the Friendly City.
In an article published in the Sentinel-Review in October 2005, he commented: “I didn’t want my grandchildren to grow up in this environment.”
So they took to the road, which is quite a feat for the Woodstock warriors, since it’s not always an easy task to get around.
Empey and Taylor have physical disabilities.
Empey, who calls himself a retired “jack-of-all-trades,’’ requires a scooter to get around.
He used a special claw, outfitted with a magnet, to pick up other people’s waste.
As a baby Taylor was paralyzed from the waist down, today he is disabled in one hand.
While you won’t find them out on weekends or when it’s raining, they spend two to three hours a day, two to three times a week ferreting out other people’s trash and disposing of it.
Over the past three years, they have picked up 1,693 garbage bags, 477 plastic bottles, 392 pop cans and 10 doggy bags and their contents.
Empey and Taylor are quick to point out they recycle the bottles and cans and deep-six the remainder.
How do they keep track of such an extensive inventory?
“We mark them down every time we pick them up,” Empey said.
Taylor said he helps his compatriot with his labours in order to have “a clean environment.”
“I like to help him out – I agree with him that we have to have a green environment,” he explained. “People have to learn where the garbage bins are – they have to get it through their heads where the garbage cans are.
“There should be a fine for it (littering).”
The pair said they’ve received lots of appreciation from area residents, but they’re irked by the lack of attention they’ve received from the City of Woodstock for their efforts.
“I want to know why two cripples can’t be recognized for the job we’ve done,” Empey said.