Joe Belle: “There Is So Much Value And Impact In Keeping State College Beautiful”

– by Cara Aungst

Joe Belle and the rest of the Clean Team is the reason that you and I get to enjoy a beautiful downtown State College. But he wants to get one thing straight: “We aren’t grouchy garbagemen — we’re pretty cool guys. So stop and talk to us! Everyone on my team is involved in artistic endeavors in the community after work — I am a musician, Damian Cabrera is an artist, and Michael David is into juggling. We’re anything but grouchy.”

Belle has lived in Happy Valley since he was a child, and has worked at various service-related jobs throughout the years in food service, retail, landscaping and janitorial. When a friend told him about the job opportunity with the Clean Team, he jumped at the chance — and he’s glad that he did.

“It’s given me the opportunity to do something physical that isn’t extremely hard on my body. I get to set my own pace, and every day is different.”

PXL 20220327 185323436

“Yes, we definitely sweep up some gross stuff from time to time, but there is so much impact and value to what we do. I wish I could show you before and after photos from game day weekends — the difference is incredible.”

He says that part of the job is being an ambassador for downtown State College, and that’s where the non-grouchy garbageman persona really comes in handy. “We love when people stop and talk to us. They’ll ask us what we’re planting, or the best place to eat, or shop downtown. We’ll walk to Webster’s for a coffee between projects, and stop and talk to people while we’re out. There’s a social aspect to the job that I really enjoy.”

As to what he tells visitors while he’s out gardening in the summer, or hanging Christmas wreaths in the winter? That there is so much to explore in and around State College. “There is so much culture and nature around us!” he said. “When you seek it out, you realize how many great bird watching places and bike paths and places like the arboretum are so nearby.”

So the next time you are downtown and see the Clean Team keeping the downtown, well, clean, give them a shout! “Hey, we're out here doing a job, but we also like to stop and hang,” Belle said. “If you need that kind of thing, we’re here.”

The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau publishes up-to-date event information at