Volunteers fight grime at River Sweep

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

To see Chris Brown at the Ironton boat ramp on Saturday, one might have thought he was setting up for a picnic or maybe repairing a car as he dragged a picnic table and tire away from the riverbank.

Actually, the Moose Teen Club president was one of 45 volunteers who spent Saturday morning participating in River Sweep 2005, which spread to two other boat ramps in Chesapeake and South Point.

Brown's team wasn't just joined by Lawrence County residents, but also by volunteers working on the shorelines of the Ohio, Allegheny, Monongahela, Beaver, Kanawha and Kentucky rivers covering more than 3,000 miles. The six-state effort is the largest environmental effort of its kind.

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Of course, the sweeping scale of the project is difficult to remember when you have to fish a disgusting tire out of the river.

"That tire Š it was full of water, and it was rusted and everything," Brown said. "It was pretty sick."

Brown wasn't one to let the "yuck" factor stop him, in fact, he still had about two hours of cleaning left.

Angela Walters, an administrative assistant with Duke Energy, was one of several Duke volunteers helping with the Sweep.

Walters said she enjoyed the effort, but felt like it was only a minor part of what needed to be done.

"I feel like we made a very small dent," she said. "I think the community needs to take more pride in their homestead."

Carrie Yaniko, education coordinator with the Lawrence Soil and Water Conservation District, said the ramp was positively filthy when work began, but looked better after the work.

"They picked up a lot of stuff," Yaniko said. "Litter is a form of pollution, and it's going to affect the water quality, so if you get these people out here and they pick up the trash, it's going to help with the water quality, too."

It may seem odd for a group of citizens to sacrifice a Saturday to do chores, but Brown seemed to be pretty satisfied with what his team had accomplished.

"It just helps people, helps our community out," Brown said. "Ironton's really dirty, but it's little steps like this that help people out. I'm grateful for anyone who comes out here and helps, because you can't get many people to come down. But even this small few make a good dent."