Palo Altan burnishes city's image
Publication Date: Wednesday Jan 1, 1997

COMMUNITY: Palo Altan burnishes city's image

Volunteer seeks help to keep freeway intersection clean

Steve Strom of Palo Alto couldn't believe his eyes.

"The filth is unbelievable," he said as he picked up discarded newspapers, coffee cups, beer bottle, latex gloves, soft drink cans, cardboard boxes, tires, car parts and other garbage.

Unfortunately, Strom was not standing at the city dump. He was picking up litter on Highway 101 at the intersection with Oregon Expressway and Embarcadero Road.

"Anyone new to the area would not realize that Palo Alto is a beautiful place by looking at the garbage on Highway 101," he said. "The Oregon Expressway-Embarcadero Road intersection is a reflection of Palo Alto, and it should be kept clean."

Strom has single-handedly adopted the intersection, picking up litter once a month, often by himself. He is looking for other volunteers to assist him.

"The intersection is so large that I really need more people to help me," he said. Anyone who wants to volunteer simply needs to sign a standard release form. After the form is signed, the state provides hard hats, gloves, trash bags, orange identification vests, protective eye-wear, and pickup sticks.

Strom's mission began last year, when he returned to Palo Alto after a long absence.

He had graduated from Stanford University in 1987 with a master's degree in electrical engineering and then moved to Dallas to work for Texas Instruments.

"I really wanted to move back to Northern California, specifically Palo Alto. I was very excited that my transfer finally came through last year," said Strom, who is a technical sales representative at Texas Instruments' San Jose office.

Upon returning to the Bay Area, Strom noticed a big change. "I couldn't believe how dirty the highways were," he said. "They had severely deteriorated since I lived here."

After some investigation, Strom learned that the California Department of Transportation now relies heavily on sponsorship and volunteers to clean the highways.

Although large organizations or companies typically adopt highway sections for litter pickup, Strom was determined to take action and adopted the intersection on his own.

Volunteers meet at Greer Park on Amarillo Avenue at 8:30 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month.

For more information, call Steve Strom at (408) 383-2234.1 n

--Denise Mohr 

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