BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the Bakersfield City Council will have a chance to create a city-wide freeway litter cleanup program Wednesday when a plan that has been brewing for months comes before them.
The annual plan would team $262,640 in Caltrans cash with $100,000 from the Kern Council of Governments to pay for crews of clients from the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter to remove litter from the sides and ramps of the city's freeways.
"Friday is going to be the kickoff," said Bakersfield Homeless Shelter Chief Executive Officer Louis Gill. "We will be out at 10 a.m. with the mayor and other supporters, and then Monday morning our first crew of six will be at work."
The program will start with that one crew, Gill said.
As soon as the city nails down some additional funding sources, he said, more crews will be added.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for people who need a chance to get back on track," he said. "It's such a great win-win for everybody."
Bakersfield Public Works Director Raul Rojas said the contract council members will consider on Wednesday will include funding for the single crew.
But the city, through the nonprofit Keep Bakersfield Beautiful organization and with the assistance of Kern Golden Empire Television, will work to bring in corporate and community partners to enhance the program, Rojas said.
With more money, more crews can hit the freeway to fight litter.
"If the sun's up we'll be cleaning," Gill said. "We're going to concentrate on the areas in metro bakersfield so when people come through they have a better impression of our city."
Some of the veteran client/employees of the Homeless Center's green waste recycling program, which also helps homeless individuals build job skills and work experience, will be used as leads on the new littler crews, Gill said.
"It's quite a collaboration," Rojas said.
Also, at Wednesday's meeting, city leaders will release the proposed city budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
Details about the budget are not yet available to the public, said Steven Teglia, assistant to City Manager Alan Tandy, but the full proposal will be reviewed and discussed at the meeting.