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Second year for cleanup brings out volunteers

Her day-glo green T-shirt came down to her ankles, but 4-year-old Tessa Shelton of Ironton didn’t mind. She was too busy rooting through the dirt of the city flowerbeds as her grandmother, Tomie Lintner, weeded nearby.

Lintner had brought Tessa and her sister, Tyler, 8, to the Ironton side of the cleanup effort going on countywide Saturday morning.

While Tessa came up with treasures that she would show her grandmother, Tyler gave one of the best reasons for joining the citywide weeding and planting.

“I get to get dirty,” she said.

By 9 a.m. volunteers were in full force downtown to revitalize the flowerbeds of day lilies and mulch around the trees along the main streets between the courthouse and the floodwall.

Mayor Rich Blankenship had been up by 5:30 a.m. putting out 120 pots of lilies to go along with the 200 bags of mulch Bartram’s & Sons had delivered.

The Ironton mayor estimated at least 10 organizations and 200 young people and adults gave up their Saturday morning to get down and dirty.

This was the 21st year for the city cleanup that started through the efforts of city activist Randy Lilly. This year Blankenship took over the organizational reins from Lilly, who still got a lot of calls from the mayor on how to get the effort off the ground.

“We are really considering calling this the Randy Lilly Cleanup Day and we want to continue this,” the mayor said. “By having the young people help, we are showing them how to give back to our community. It starts with our youth with the adults here to lead them.”

However, this cleanup day wasn’t confined solely to the western end of the county. All of Lawrence was out in full force to put a shine everywhere as part of the second annual Keep Lawrence County Beautiful campaign. Sponsors were Dow Chemical, King’s Daughters Medical Center and Contraption T’s.

About 45 volunteers showed up at the Chesapeake Community Center to join Operation TLC’s effort.

“Overall, it’s gone very well,” Billie Smith of TLC, said by mid afternoon. “We dispersed east and west. Some going to Proctorville, some to Chesapeake. We covered the area. Of course there is still some more out there.”

All ages participated from adults to students from Chesapeake and Fairland to young ones.

“We had a little girl with two of her baby dolls,” Smith said. “It was definitely a family affair.”

Roll-off containers for heavy items were available throughout the townships including 20 at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds.

“We are all on the same page, trying to clean up the county,” Smith said. “They are going for the big stuff. We are for the small. We are trying to foster litter awareness.”

Back in Ironton, Lydia Pack, 7, came prepared for the morning’s work with a digger and her pair of pink Dora the Explorer gloves. Lydia was part of St. Lawrence School’s Girl Scout Troop 932 that has participated in the city cleanup for the past two years.

“The girls look forward to it each year,” Amy Woods, troop leader, said.

Overall, there were 51 groups participating, up from 35 last year, according to Dan Palmer of the Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste Management District.

“The growth we have seen from last year to this year, that says a lot,” Palmer said. “We had groups everywhere throughout the county. You can’t say enough. I am so appreciative of each and every volunteer.”

As noon approached Ironton High School Key Club members were putting the finishing touches on their planting efforts.

This was the first time IHS sophomore Levi Runyon had joined in.

“This first year won’t be my last,” he said. “This is great.”