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 Volunteers and officers from the Eastpointe Police Department pick up debris on the median at Eight Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue.

Volunteers and officers from the Eastpointe Police Department pick up debris on the median at Eight Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Eastpointe Neighborhood Watch cleans up streets

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 24, 2020

 Prior to heading out into the city, Eastpointe Director of Public Safety George Rouhib instructs volunteers about target areas and being safe while picking up debris along the city’s major roads.

Prior to heading out into the city, Eastpointe Director of Public Safety George Rouhib instructs volunteers about target areas and being safe while picking up debris along the city’s major roads.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe Neighborhood Watch, in conjunction with the city of Eastpointe, held its first cleanup project July 20.

Volunteers and city employees took to several of Eastpointe’s major roads to clean up garbage and other litter in the community. Afterward, Director of Public Safety George Rouhib said that more than 125 bags of trash had been taken off the streets.

“We’re getting so many complaints every day about litter on the main mile roads, like Eight Mile Road, Nine Mile Road, 10 Mile Road, Kelly Road and Gratiot (Avenue) in the medians, so we’re taking the initiative,” said Rouhib. “This is part of our neighborhood watch group, and we’ve talked about cleaning up the town.”

Rouhib added that the cleanup does a lot more than simply get litter out of the roads.

“Believe it or not, litter attracts the criminal element and we want to get rid of that,” he explained. “It’s not just about picking up litter; it’s also about mingling with our residents and learning about each other. We’re going to be visiting businesses just to talk, but we’ll also be giving businesses warnings if they have litter on their property. Being out together also allows us to identify any other possible issues so we can resolve them as a group.”

Fire Chief Nick Sage was among those who participated.

“It gets people together and gets them to socialize and talk with one another,” said Sage. “It lets you talk with people you might not usually converse with, and you do it while picking up some debris along the way.”

Neighborhood Watch member Mark Kilgore said he was eager to get out in the streets and improve the community in a tangible way.

“I wanted to help the city and clean it up, meet the neighbors, see other people who are volunteering and get to know them,” he said. “I think we need to build a better sense of community. People are too disconnected today. You don’t know your neighbors and you don’t talk about things. It’s an easy sort of thing to complain about, but we need to be the change we want to see.”

Kilgore also said he hopes this will go a long way toward improving people’s perception of his hometown.

“I hope we’re bringing awareness that we are coming together to clean up our city,” he said. “This makes it safer. Eastpointe has gotten a lot of bad press, but there are people here who are working hard to make things better.”

Safety measures were in place to ensure the safety of both the volunteers and those using the streets while they were being cleaned.

“Everyone has an orange fluorescent vest, we have garbage grabbers, everyone has gloves and we’ll be maintaining social distancing,” Rouhib said. “No one is allowed to pick up trash in the street, no one is allowed to pick up glass or any dangerous object such as syringes. If we find any, our trained law enforcement officers would handle those kinds of things. We don’t want anyone getting hurt. A representative from the city will be with each group of volunteers to ensure everyone stays safe.”

Rouhib went on to say that keeping the city clean is a win-win for residents.

“We encourage people to pick up trash if they are out and see it, just be responsible and observant so you’re not picking up anything dangerous. It’s good for the city and it’s good for individuals,” he said. “People can get a $200 fine for throwing litter out the window, and we do special enforcement assignments for officers to watch out for that kind of thing, and they see people at places like bus stops toss garbage on the ground when there’s a trash can right there.”

The organizers of the cleanup hope this will inspire more Eastpointe residents to get involved with the neighborhood watch.

“Our meetings are livestreamed on Facebook. We haven’t been able to host them recently because of COVID, but as soon as we can pick them back up again, everyone is invited to come down and join in,” said Sage. “They can still take part in events like this one in the meantime.”

Rouhib said he hopes this is the first of many such community cleanup events.

“They can join us on our Facebook page, the Eastpointe Police and Fire Neighborhood Watch group, and find all of our information there after they ask to join. All of our upcoming events and programs are listed there,” he said. “We hope to make this a regular thing. You can’t do this just once a year; we want to be out here at least quarterly. We want to make the neighborhoods clean and make the city inviting.”

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