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Residents canoe for a cleaner shore

Monday, August 13, 2001

CHESAPEAKE – Overcast skies on Saturday didn’t stop 22 canoeist from paddling their way to a cleaner creek bank.

Last Saturday marked the fourth year for the "Canoe Caper" sponsored by the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee and sanctioned by the U.S. Canoe Association.

Canoeist paddled their way up Symmes Creek picking up trash scattered along the banks and even in the trees with bows that hung next to the waters.

Grayson Thornton, the chairman of the restoration committee, said, the annual event is used by the committee "to promote the beautification, clean-up and restoration of our waterways in general, and Symmes Creek in particular."

The caper kicked-off at 10 a.m. with novice canoeist receiving a hands-on lesson in operating the boat. In the midst of learning how to handle a canoe, boaters also collected the trash that dotted the bank.

Around noon, the canoeist started making their way to the mouth of Symmes Creek and onto the Ohio River.

This year, restoration committee secretary and treasurer Art Ferguson said, the group added a down river flotilla. As the boaters turned down the Ohio, the Mississippi Queen River Boat and the Huntington, W.Va. cityscape became the backdrop as the group made their to the senior citizens center at the old number 28 locks and dam site in Sybene.

The group made the trip in about an one and a half hours and then turned in their oars for forks and spoons and had lunch provided by the Windsor Grange.

Ferguson said the restoration committee, which has been chartered since 1977, has always sponsored a canoeing event. The group first started sponsoring canoe races from Arabia to Linnville – a 14 mile trek.

The first canoe race the group sponsored, held in the early 1980’s Ferguson said, was won by Gary Estep and Billy Ray Cyrus, long before Cyrus’ aching and breaking heart removed him from the Tri-State and landed him in Nashville, Tenn.

Ferguson said this year. the canoeist removed about 10 bags of trash from the banks of Symmes Creek plus some loose garbage too large to place in bags. He said that in addition to picking up litter, the trip provided an educational experience for the children that went on the trip. He said "the children pitched in and helped and were amazed at the amount of trash" along the creek’s bank.

Looking to the future, Ferguson said he expects the canoes to once again return to the creek next August.