Graffiti Clean Up Efforts in Hazleton

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HAZLETON - The ramps and jumps are covered in profanities. The work of vandals in the Hazleton area, but now fresh paint and some volunteers are working to cover it all up.

Darel Guerrero is one of the sigh school students who took part in POWER Hazleton's effort to clean up the mess right outside Arthur Street School.  He says this project is important to him.

"Sure it is, because for the future, these are the new kids, the new generation, so it can look nice for them," said Guerrero.

The Hazleton Area High School students taking part in the cleanup are from an employability skills class. Their teacher says the project is preparing them to work towards a brighter future.

"We want to show them a little bit of community pride, doing some community service giving back to the community so that they can eventually graduate from high school and continue to give back to the community," said Hazleton Area School teacher Shawn Darraugh.

While the high schoolers took on the heavy workload, elementary students picked up litter around the area too, and were happy to lend some helping hands.

"I got to clean up the playground and now it looks nicer," said 2nd Grader Jacob Hutchison.

As the fresh coats of paint begin to dry here at the Arthur Street playground, local officials and students say they plan to work hard to keep this place graffiti free.

"We`re trying to do a good thing so it would be a shame if all of our efforts were taken away," said POWER Hazleton Director Erin O'Donnell.

Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea says they installed these surveillance cameras about one month ago.

They hope the cameras along with the neighborhood watch will deter vandals.

"I`m out here painting because this is my neighborhood, my kids use this playground, and I would like nothing more to have them not read curses on the back of all these skate park things when they come up here," said Chief DeAndrea.

And many students walked away knowing they can make an impact and a difference in their community.

"It touches me to help clean up the community for our younger people," said 11th Grade Student Austin Moyer.

Local officials say they also are working to enact harsher punishments on vandals and those people who recruit youth gang members.

Several representatives have already worked to develop Operation Gang Up legislation, making it a crime to recruit children to gangs and creating tougher sentences for vandals who paint graffiti on public property.