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He removed a ton of trash from downtown Fresno last year - seven tons, actually

Tribune News Service logo Tribune News Service 1/13/2018 By Joshua Tehee, The Fresno Bee
a view of a city: A look south on Fulton Street near Tuolumne Street in downtown Fresno is observed in this aerial drone image photographed on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. The Downtown Fresno Partnership's Ambassador Clean Team makes sure the area is free of trash and graffiti. © CRAIG KOHLRUSS/Fresno Bee/TNS A look south on Fulton Street near Tuolumne Street in downtown Fresno is observed in this aerial drone image photographed on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. The Downtown Fresno Partnership's Ambassador Clean Team makes sure the area is free of trash and graffiti.

As an ambassador with the Downtown Fresno Partnership, Edward Blackwell picks up trash - tons of it, apparently.

In 2017 alone, Blackwell removed more than 14,000 pounds of trash as part of his daily routine; an end-of-the-year statistic the partnership posted on Facebook.

The number was less than 10,000 in 2016.

Actually, Blackwell picked up 15,455 pounds of trash last year, a number he determined by weighing it out in 55-gallon trash cans. The bulk of what Blackwell saw on a daily basis was quick pick-up litter and plant waste (leaves and weeds and the like), but he's been known to clean whole alleyways when needed.

"The craziest thing I've come across is a large tipped-over dumpster, with all of its contents pulled out covering a large section of the alley," he says.

So, he broke out the push broom, rake and shovel and got to it.

Blackwell spearheads the partnership's Ambassador Clean Team. His role, the team's only full-time position, was created in 2015 to help with litter and graffiti removal in an area that struggles with mass amounts of negative perceptions.

Blackwell also reported and removed close to 3,000 pieces of graffiti in 2017, according to the partnership.

He does serve the more traditional role of ambassador as well - giving directions and suggestions to downtown diners and customers.

As for the litterbugs, he stops them when he can.

"If I catch someone littering I ask them to pick up their trash," he says.

Of course, perception aside, trash and litter isn't just a downtown Fresno problem. If 7 tons seems like a large number, keep in mind that across the entire city, more than 1,000 tons of litter and illegally dumped trash had to be cleaned up over the past two years.

Visit The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.) at www.fresnobee.com

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