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More than 30 show up to help clean banks of the Ohio

Overcast skies and windy conditions didn’t discourage the community spirit at the 14th

annual "River Sweep" Saturday.

"I love the weather. It is nice for this because you don’t have to worry about kids getting sunburnt," said Mary Rose, site coordinator in Ironton and master of Deering Grange, a fraternal organization concerned with rural legislation and community service. "I have been here when it was so hot you couldn’t breath."

The one-day event encompassed six states and attempted to clean up more than 3,000 miles of the Ohio River’s shoreline and tributaries, from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Ill. Last year, nearly 20,000 people participated.

"I was thrilled with the turnout," Rose said.

The 30-plus people who showed up at the Center Street Boat Ramp more than doubled the 13 volunteers from last year at the site. The Lawrence County Group Home and the Busy Bears, a 4-H group from Coal Grove, were joined by several citizens for the cleanup effort.

"Our whole family is here," Heather Mullens of Ironton said. "If people don’t pick up trash it will keep building up around us."

Wyatt Mullens of Ironton, 5, said he was having fun even though much of the mess had already been cleaned up.

Ironton resident Mike McFann tries to come every year and said he has seen big improvements over the years.

"I probably haven’t missed more than one or two since it started," he said. "There is definitely less trash now than at the beginning. There doesn’t seem to be as much big stuff."

Volunteers were given certificates, T-shirts and refreshments. A contest was sponsored to design the shirts. Zane Madden, a Fifth-grader from St. Francis Xavier School in Moundsville, W. Va., had the winning design.

"It would be nice if people would learn to respect public property," Rose said. "It is a wonderful community project because everyone can get involved. I think everyone that is capable should participate."

The three main Lawrence County sites were the Center Street Boat Ramp in Ironton, the Indian Guyan Boat Ramp between Chesapeake and Proctorville and the Old Lock and Dam 27 in Rome Township. There were also two branch sites at South Point Boat Ramp and Symmes Creek Boat Ramp.

The Lawrence-Scioto County Solid Waste Management District, operated by the Ironton-Lawrence County Area Community Action Organization, hosted the local drive.

Nina Fugitt and Enola Cade of Windsor Grange assisted Rose at the Ironton site. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune