By CASEY CROUCHER
Two teenage boys wearing orange safety vests, wielding weed trimming machines and rakes can be seen this summer sprucing up different areas of the city.
The teens, Alex Antonio and Neil Otero, are part of Montgomery County's Workforce Solutions System. They signed up for the youth services paid work experience program and have been doing landscape work for Amsterdam since the end of June.
"I needed a job and I wanted to help the city," Antonio said. "I've weed whacked, cut branches, raked -- lots of landscaping work, but I don't mind."
Fourth Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler said she's been meeting the boys every week day at 9 a.m. and picking them up to bring them to a new spot to clean up.
"We've really gotten a lot done," she said.
Hatzenbuhler and the teens have focused their landscaping work the past two weeks on 4th Avenue and Church Street, around the five corners area.
The councilwoman said the work doesn't seem like much to some but it's a lot when compared to what was once there.
"We've done a lot and these boys are good workers," she said. "We mow, get rid of weeds, clear off sidewalks that have overgrown grass and sand from the winter, and I really want to get started on a couple of small projects."
After clearing out vines and bushes from the fencing along 4th Avenue, Hatzenbuhler said she'd like to have a little foot bridge built for people who cut through 4th Avenue to Dunkin' Donuts.
"There's a big gap from the curb and the little path to Dunkin' Donuts has a slight decline," she said. "A little bridge would make it safer."
The alderwoman also said she'd like to have someone help her and the boys remove some trees next to fencing in that area where the former railroad tracks leading to the Kellogg Mill.
"If we clear out these trees we can put in a couple of benches and people who walk around this busy area will have a place to sit in the shade," she said.
Hatzenbuhler also said she's trying to find trash cans for that area because there seems to be an "unnecessary amount of litter on the ground."
However, as for now, Hatzenbuhler and the teens will continue weed whacking, mowing and trimming overgrown areas.
Antonio said he likes his summer job because he can walk past the work he's done and feel pride.
"It's nice knowing I helped clean up a certain area and people notice it. It makes me feel good," he said.
Hatzenbuhler said Antonio's landscaping gig will end Aug. 15, but if Workforce Solutions has extra money left over, he'll be able to keep working for another two weeks before school starts up again.