‘Trash man’ helps keep Ventana Canyon neighborhood clean

Local man picks up litter, signs from road working to restore Tucson's beauty

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Picking up litter along the roadways can be a daunting and never ending task, with many just tossing trash, straight from their cars.

But some Tucsonans won't stand for it, volunteering their time to help keep the city's roads litter free and even in some cases, sign free.

Retired business executive Chris Cantoni picks up trash every day in Ventana Canyon, making it his mission to keep things clean in his neighborhood.

“Maybe I’m a little obsessive,” said Cantoni. “But multiply this by the number of days in a year and think about what this would look like."

He has lived in New Jersey, St. Louis, Phoenix and landed in Tucson two years ago, saying he appreciates the area’s beauty.

“I don’t see how you can care for the community and then trash it,” he said. “I don’t understand that.”

It is why he’s befuddled by the fact so many people sully it, in so many ways. In one particular area he has cleaned up there are barricades and sandbags still there, though the work is finished. When asked how long it had been there he replied, “Probably a month. I reported it to the county.”

Cantoni walks miles a day along with his wife and a friend, proclaiming the three miles between Craycroft and Kolb on Sunrise are the cleanest in the county.

However, it is not just trash that he says litter the roadways. He also picks up signs, many are illegally placed according to Cantoni. He just takes them down.

“I’ve had conversations with the county and it goes like this. 'We appreciate what you’re doing. We can’t get to it. I’m not going to say anything if you don’t say anything,” Cantoni said.

Does it work? KOLD News 13 called a business prominently displayed on one of the signs and got the following:

“Hi, this is Michael. This is Bud Foster for Channel 13. How are you today?" After a brief conversation, Michael said he would clean it up, the signs that are illegally placed that is.

“If I’ve got a sign out there that’s placed incorrectly, not legal, if you know where it is - I’ll take it down.”

This is all in a days work for Cantoni and yes maybe everyday is a bit obsessive as he claims, but there is a method to the madness.

“If you keep at it, it tends to go away. The problem ... if you don’t keep at it ... it’s like monkey see, monkey do. It just gets worse and worse and worse,” he said. “The cleaner I keep the street out here, the cleaner it becomes.”

Which for the scenery, and the neighbors, is just fine.

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