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Public health officials have high hopes for poster campaign

Date: 1/3/2014

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE – Public health officials hope that a poster campaign will successfully remind tenants of apartment buildings throughout the city to properly dispose of trash in dumpsters.

On Dec. 19, some of the tenants of building supervised by Atlas Property Management, Inc. met at the company’s offices with Mayor Alex Morse and Katie Gallagher, the assistant director for the Board of Health, for the launch of the poster campaign.

The poster displayed at the offices was produced by Amherst artist Gaddier Rosario and asks residents to place their trash in their building’s dumpster. The phrase” No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted.”

Jeffrey Bianchine, the creative economy coordinator, said the poster utilized the tradition of public health posters that were created in Puerto Rico in the 1940s.

Gallagher explained how improperly disposed of trash is a not just a litter and appearance problems, but one that can lead to serious public health concerns.

Some of the residents explained how neighbors in their buildings would not bring their trash down to the dumpsters and would leave it in common areas leaving it to their neighbors to take care of it.

Raquel Rodriguez, rentals manager for Atlas Management, praised the tenants who actively cleaned up after their neighbors and said, “We need more people like you.”

She added that in order to learn which tenant was not bringing his or her trash to the dumpster, member so the management company staff have gone through the trash bags to learn the identity from discarded mail.

Gallagher said the trash attracts not just cockroaches, but also mice and rats, which in turn have fleas that can spread disease. There are also issues of mental health and depression caused by living in a building with trash as well as an increased hazard of fire.

“The health of the community is everything,” she said.

Gallagher said that Holyoke, police firefighters and code enforcement respond to complaints, but the process they must follow involves a series of warnings before actions can take place.

She suggested the ordinances concerning trash should be changed by the City Council.