Volunteers make clean sweep of river

June 15, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Plastic bags in hand, a group of kids from Hillbilly Kids 4-H Club head west and community service workers from Portsmouth Municipal Court head east in search of litter along the banks of the Ohio River Saturday morning. Clean Sweep 2013 was officially underway.

“We’re going to try to pick up as much of this river bank as we can,” Jeff Crippen of Scioto County Litter Control and Lawrence County Solid Waste said. “The water has come up but we’ve still got a lot that we can pick up.”

Crippen said a lot of people made the River Sweep possible, including the Coca-Cola company for providing refreshments, Jane Kitts in the Scioto County Commissioners Office, the Scioto County Commissioners, Dan Palmer of the Solid Waste District, Miller’s Gas Station for donating the ice, Phil Malone for creating posters for the program, and Mark Thacker and Danny Copley, manning the other two sites involved in the sweep.

Among those picking up litter were people performing community service from Portsmouth Municipal Court.

“The charges against these people range from driving under suspension to small petty thefts, minor things like that,” Kyle McCain from Portsmouth Municipal Court said. “The come out here and perform community service. In lieu of going to jail our judges sentence people to community service to help keep population down at the (Scioto County) jail.”

McCain said a lot of thanks should go out to the state for a grant that allows the program to exist. That grant is from the Community Corrections Act through the Department of Rehabilitation, the Bureau of Community Sanctions.

“It’s a grant we get from the state that allows us to put people on community service in lieu of sending them to jail,” McCain said.

Others were participating out of pride in the Ohio River.

“We’re here to help them clean up the river,” Krista Eichenlaub of Hillbilly Kids said.

The Hillbilly Kids have made this an annual outing.

“We do this every year,” Shawna Coleman, also of Hillbilly Kids, said. “We usually do both - have fun and work hard. We enjoy it.”

The cleanup sites in Scioto County include the Court Street landing in Portsmouth, Shawnee Boat Marina in Friendship and the Ohio side of the Greenup Dam.

Each year, more than 21,000 volunteers from public organizations, civic groups, recreational clubs, and the general public in six states bordering the river come together to collect more than 21,000 tons of trash and other debris from the banks of the Ohio River and tributaries. Since 1989, River Sweep has been organized by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), an interstate water pollution agency for the Ohio River Valley, along with environmental protection and natural resource agencies from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.