No longer cleaning up financially, crews continue work as volunteers
Like a group of disciples, 10 to 15 men stood outside cleanup guru Jeff Hiltner’s house waiting for his next commandment and defending his name.
The group, sometimes speaking all at once, said the allegations made by two men in a Post Independent story on Thursday are unfair and that Hiltner is simply a generous person trying to help out those who need a hand – and cleaning up the town in the process.
“We were really upset when we read that. He’s a really nice guy,” said Robert Bunn, a 22-year-old employee who works on one of Hiltner’s cleanup crews.
Hiltner has been paying workers out of his own pocket to clean up Glenwood Springs and beyond during the last few weeks. During the last week, however, some workers have claimed Hiltner has failed to pay them.
As his workers defended him, Hiltner was unavailable for comment. In fact, he was in sight, sweeping snow off a nearby sidewalk, but, the employees explained, he was “in a zone.”
Bunn said he knew Hiltner was running out of money to pay the cleanup crews. However, Bunn insisted, he still is willing to work as a volunteer.
“I’m going on two weeks now of volunteering,” Bunn said. “Everybody has known during the last three weeks that money was going to get tight and there might be some volunteer work.”
Bunn estimated that Hiltner has spent more than $50,000 of his own money paying, feeding and lodging his workers.
“He lets people stay at his house,” he said. “It’s to keep people full and fed.”
Bunn said the reason Hiltner started the cleanup efforts is because he knows “there’s a lot of people out there who need help.”
Also, he said, when the cleanup first began, Hiltner’s workers were being paid daily. Now, he said, it’s been 1 1/2 weeks since the last payday, not a very long time for most businesses.
Another worker, 20-year-old Adam Burke, denied claims that Hiltner has bought two Harley-Davidson motorcycles. However, Burke said, Hiltner has been buying trucks to expand his cleanup efforts.
“He doesn’t just want to clean up Glenwood, he wants to spread out,” Burke said.
And Chris Wessel, a 21-year-old who works for Hiltner, said that even though it was Hiltner who started the cleanup efforts, he and others are now taking it upon themselves to keep the campaign alive.
“Now that there’s no money, we’re doing it for free,” he said. “It’s not just his cause.”
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