'A leader already': 6-year-old trail cleanup organizer honored by Cambria officials

Shawn Curtis, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.
·2 min read

Mar. 25—A dogwood tree was planted on Wednesday along the Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail in Moxham. The young tree was one of many gifts presented to a West End youngster who organized a cleanup of the trail earlier this month.

Marcus Simms, 6, also received a small basket of sweet treats and a box of Slim Jim meat snacks — his favorite, as he later revealed — during a recognition ceremony for the Greater Johnstown Elementary School kindergartner.

Cambria County President Commissioner Thomas Chernisky and Commissioner Scott Hunt, along with Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority leaders Thomas Kakabar, chairman, and Cliff Kitner, executive director, spoke at the brief celebration to thank Simms for his efforts to organize the effort.

"Marcus is in kindergarten and he's a leader already," Chernisky said. "He can go back when he gets older and go back to when he was using the trails since Day 1, cleaning the trails and being a community leader all at one time."

Kakabar was joined by Kitner when placing the new tree, dubbed "Big Bobby" by Marcus, after he expressed his gratitude and made his pitch to his possible successor.

"This is truly remarkable for him to come forth at this young age and basically adopt this trail," Kakabar said. "By adopting this trail, I'm probably standing next to the next chairman of the Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority."

The cleanup effort filled seven garbage bags with debris gathered along a trail that his family uses frequently.

Marcus' mother, Melana, who accompanied Marcus to the event, noted that their family uses the trails quite often.

Melana and her husband, Brandon, will run on the paths, and then will take to their bicycles when Marcus and his older brother, Brayden, 8, are involved.

The youngest of the Simms quartet had an eye toward the future, along with the present time, when he figured out what he wanted to do to beautify the trail.

"I wanted to keep the earth safe," Marcus said.

Shawn Curtis is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5085. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnCurtis430.