Emory Bryan, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- A big effort is underway to clean up the city of Tulsa before company comes.
Tulsa will get thousands of visitors in less than two weeks, when the BOK Center hosts the NCAA Tournament basketball games.
But all the litter may not be picked up in time.
When the Mayor and a City Councilor started picking up litter over the weekend, they didn't have much company in the "all volunteer" effort.
The City has tried over the years to get more volunteers interested in cleaning up Tulsa, but it's still mostly done by people who for one reason or another have to do it, mostly inmates.
"We still have some prisoners, misdemeanants, that sort of thing, a security guard goes with them and they work primarily the arterial street system," Paul Strizek, with the City of Tulsa, said.
In 2009, the City's litter pick up efforts resulted in 27,864 bags of trash, close to 1,000 tons, picked up by inmates and contractors. The City doesn't keep up with litter picked up by volunteers.
Still, Tulsa has plenty of trash along the roads, both on city streets and state highways. There are volunteers who help, mainly through groups like Up With Trees.
"Technically our area of responsibility is right around the trees, but if we're out there, we'll go ahead and pick it up," Anna America said. "Usually the worst area is around the fence line because it's so windy."
Neighborhood associations also help out and anyone hired to mow for the City or State is supposed to pick up litter before they mow.
"Five to ten years ago you saw a real change, there were a lot of cutbacks, both the city and state there's aren't as many resources," America said.
One of Tulsa's cleanest spots is downtown right around the BOK Center. That's handled differently because of a special tax on downtown property that supplies enough money for the best service.
"Downtown we're doing more than we used to do, because of the special assessment," Strizek said. "It allows basically continuous litter pickup, but that's only inside the inner dispersal loop."
The city doesn't have a program for adopting roadsides, but Up With Trees does, and so does ODOT for state highways.