Instead of letting garbage pile up around her community, Bonnie Hedderson has taken it upon herself to tidy the public spaces in St. Anthony that have become home to scattered trash.
She drives her pickup truck around the town, hunting for garbage — and there's no shortage of it, Hedderson said.
"Bags of garbage that have been tied up and just tossed. Everything. Siding, buckets, car parts, Ski-Doo parts, Christmas trees," she said.
Hedderson said the town doesn't have dedicated staff to clean up discarded trash around town.
"They have no program where they employ anyone to go around and clean up the ditches and stuff," she said.
"How is this place going to get cleaned up, if no one's doing it, if there aren't any programs in place? So I basically just started doing it on my own."
Hedderson said she's raised the issue with town officials, adding that they've recently added garbage bins to the tennis and basketball courts.
"But what I was finding was that the garbage bins were overflowing," Hedderson said.
While those bins are being emptied more often these days, Hedderson said, the basic problem of litter remains.
She has taken to posting in the community Facebook groups, asking people to donate garbage bins to set up in shared community spaces.
"There are several park areas around here that are not maintained. People use them, they're beautiful," Hedderson said.
"I got the bins and I go there every two or three weeks and empty them, and I've been doing it all summer."
But Hedderson said the trash problem could potentially turn away tourists.
"[The town is] very authentic but, you know, it's not inviting — and it's very questionable when you enter town."
Limited resources, mayor says
St. Anthony Mayor Krista Lynn Howell doesn't think that the problem is specific to her town, adding it's "an issue for a lot of areas in our region," but she's grateful for residents like Hedderson who go out of their way to deal with it.
"She's doing a great job and we're very thankful for people like her," said Howell.
"There are several other people in the community who've been doing this for a number of years … It certainly is much appreciated."
Howell said the trash issue is difficult because the town doesn't have a lot of resources to dispatch to deal with the problem.
"Unfortunately, we do have limited resources and in the fall our staff is reduced, so we don't have that same capacity," she said.
"I think that people are finding it a little easier maybe to just drop something on the ground as opposed to finding an appropriate receptacle."