Tom Levernier does not describe himself as a hero, but his volunteer work is helping improve the quality of life for nearly all Pataskala residents.

Tom Levernier does not describe himself as a hero, but his volunteer work is helping improve the quality of life for nearly all Pataskala residents.

Nearly every morning, rain or shine, he collects trash from along Pataskala roads.

"I'm retired. You can't just sit at home and do nothing," he said.

The city of Pataskala and the Pataskala Area Chamber of Commerce on April 17 recognized Levernier for his contributions to the community.

Levernier, 63, retired in March 2004 after working 32 years as a systems analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense. After being cooped up in an office for so long, he said, he wanted to spend his retirement in the fresh air.

Levernier said his desire to maintain a clean neighborhood began well before he retired. He and his wife were the first residents of Pataskala's Highland Hills subdivision. With no one else living there, Levernier picked up trash that would accumulate around the neighborhood. Seeing the subdivision tidy gave him a sense of accomplishment.

When he retired, he expanded his range to include the entire city.

He said he collects trash "wherever I see a mess."

Unfortunately, that includes many places around Pataskala. Levernier said he uses 43-gallon trash bags for collection, and he fills five or six bags per week.

He said he finds all sorts of unusual items, such as credit cards, which he returns to their owners.

Levernier said he once found a folder full of personal information that a woman left on top of her car as she was loading it. She forgot about the folder and drove away. He said she wasn't aware she lost the folder until he informed her.

He said he has even found sofas discarded along the road.

"People just throw them in the ditch," he said. "It just angers me."

The chamber of commerce presented Levernier with a proclamation and $200 for his expenses, which Levernier covers.

"This was service above and beyond," Pataskala Area Chamber of Commerce administrator Zoe Latimer said. "We wanted him to know his service is appreciated."

The city issued Levernier its own proclamation of appreciation.

"Tom has been a critical part of keeping our main roadways clean, and his volunteerism has been a great example for others of how much good one person can do," Pataskala Mayor Steve Butcher said. "Tom's work just never seems to end, and the amount of litter never gets any smaller no matter how often he is out."

Butcher said the huge amount of trash Levernier collects saddens him.

"Our police officers are watching for litterers and if observed, they will be ticketed and fined," he said.

Levernier said he certainly appreciates the city and chamber's recognition of his efforts, but he doesn't volunteer to gain attention.

"It's nice to know I'm doing something people think is useful," he said. "I see all that rubbish out there and I just don't understand it."