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Commack retiree spurs wider effort to clean up section of Crooked Hill Road

Ed Mikell stands on Crooked Hill Road in

Ed Mikell stands on Crooked Hill Road in Commack on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Mikell said this area is a mess and this weekend he's heading up a team of people to clean more of the road. Credit: Ed Betz

Longtime Commack resident Ed Mikell is looking to make the hamlet a better place to live, one cleanup at a time.

The retiree has made promoting community pride his mission. Mikell, 73, has enlisted more than a dozen residents as part of his 7 Cents Club to help him spruce up the area's roads, starting Saturday with an inaugural effort on Crooked Hill Road.

"Wherever you live, you should take a certain amount of pride," Mikell said. "It's a matter of getting behind it and doing something about it."

In September 2014, Mikell was inspired to found the club after a routine drive home from a Home Depot. Though he said he has driven past Crooked Hill Road's bus stop a hundred times, this time was different.

"There were about 10 people standing in that garbage," Mikell said. "Truck tires, hub caps all over the place. I went home and said this is not right."

Armed with a grocery cart and his own tools, Mikell returned to the stop to tidy it himself. After a few hours, the task was complete, but he found himself wondering what more he could do. He decided to create a group to keep Commack clean, and dubbed it the 7 Cents Club, the amount of loose change he found while cleaning up the area.

A year has elapsed since, but now the club of one has grown, thanks to a recent partnership with the Commack Community Association. Bruce Ettenberg, the association's president, said he thought Mikell's club's mission was a "fabulous" idea that he'd never heard of before.

"It's not a one-time sponsorship," said Ettenberg, 69. "If we can get the numbers up, there will be other parts of Commack that will be worked on."

For now, through Suffolk County's Adopt-a-Highway program, the club has committed to cleaning up a segment of Crooked Hill Road, a mile-long stretch between the road and its intersection with Commack Road.

Residents interested in volunteering can gather at 9 a.m. at the southwest corner of the Kohl's parking lot on Crooked Hill.

The adoption is a two-year promise to maintain the area monthly for 10 months a year.

The highway program is providing supplies including trash bags, reflective vests and tools to pick up garbage.

Mikell hopes that membership will grow enough to support regular cleanups of other roads, such as the Northern State Parkway and Harned Road.

After a year of tidying Crooked Hill Road by himself, Mikell said he is looking forward to Saturday's effort.

"I feel finally it's coming to fruition," he said. "This idea became a little seed that's now grown to become something."


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