In his first four days of clean-up, Eli said he found three needles and a crack pipe. Using rubber gloves for safety, he has picked them up and placed them in a safe disposal container. (Erin Christie/Morning Star) In response to the growing concern regarding the safety of local parks as residents report finding hypodermic needles near outdoor play areas in Vernon, Kai Eli, 25, has founded the Polson Avengers, a volunteer safety committee. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)

‘This place is a disaster;’ Polson Avengers cleanup expands

Polson Avengers find needles behind Vernon business

  • Apr. 25, 2018 1:30 p.m.

Vernon’s newest volunteer organization has shifted gears — from cleanup crew to advocacy group.

Since founding the non-profit organization earlier this month, Kai Eli, 25, and a group of 10 dedicated volunteers who call themselves the Polson Avengers have logged countless hours patrolling Polson Park collecting dangerous refuse and discarded needles.

Armed with needle-disposal containers, garbage bags, latex gloves, Eli often records videos and live streams cleanups to keep his ever-growing audience informed.

His latest live stream, recorded from the rear stairwell landing of the Wholesale Club at the corner of 34th Street in Vernon on April 24, garnered thousands of views within 24 hours after appearing on the Polson Avengers Facebook page early Tuesday night.

In the video, Eli — sporting a protective mask and gloves — points his camera down into the stairwell and expresses his disgust.

“I don’t know about you guys but anybody watching this at home needs to understand that the city needs to see this because this is fecal matter… there are needles down here,” he said, gesturing to the ground below.

“This is literal toxic waste, this is bad.”

Eli continued, urging members of local government watch the group’s videos in hopes that they would address the issue.

He said in the video that he decided to stop by the Wholesale Club on his way to Polson Park for his regular cleanup session after hearing from a fellow avenger that “workers” had been poked by a needle. Eli later clarified that the “workers” he referred to on Facebook are two private contractors that got “poked” by needles on two separate occasions.

Wholesale Club store manager, Matt Miskuski said Wednesday that none of the store’s employees had had any contact with the debris, and confirmed that no one, to his knowledge, had been “poked” by a needle.

Miskuski said landscaping on the property is contracted to a private company who regularly clean the area, but did not reveal the name of the company.

Unfortunately, he added, the area referred to in Eli’s video appears to be a popular spot and refuse seems to reappear as fast as it can be cleaned up.

Over the past few days, Eli’s post has earned the group, specifically Eli plenty of attention from residents and local media, but Eli said he hopes his message will get to the town’s decision-makers who can “do something.”

To see the video, visit the Polson Avengers on Facebook, or go to www.vernonmorningstar.com

 

Needles, and other drug paraphernalia are found daily in Polson Park. (Erin Christie/Morning Star) Armed with latex gloves and a safe disposal container, Polson Avenger, Kai Eli, 25, spends a few hours of his time cleaning up the park he loved to play in as a child. In four days, Eli said he found three used needles and a discarded crack pipe in Polson Park. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)

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