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Cleaning up the mess

Antonia Lyons, left and Tammy Unrue, right, make their way through the driftwood as they pick up trash and debris along the Ohio River at the Coal Grove Boat Dock during the annual River Sweep Saturday.


COAL GROVE — Trash bag in hand, Gwenda Vance eased her way down the Coal Grove riverfront Saturday and came back 15 minutes later with her hands full.

Nearby, Brianna William’s foray onto the Ohio River shore yielded a large boat rope.

The annual Ohio River Sweep brought hundreds of volunteers to clean up the banks of the Ohio River from its beginnings at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers to its confluence with the Mississippi River in Cairo, Ill.

Organized nationally by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) and locally by the Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste Management District, the River Sweep brought volunteers to five sites: the Center Street Landing in Ironton, the Coal Grove Boat Ramp, the South Point Boat Ramp, the Symmes Creek Boat Ramp and the Proctorville Dam.

One group of volunteers was the Moose Family Center Teen Club in Ironton. That organization is the solid waste district’s Adopt A Litter Site volunteer group and cleans the Coal Grove boat ramp monthly.

Members were back Saturday for River Sweep.

“I want them to learn responsibility, loyalty, giving back to their community,” Teen Leader Stacey Patterson said. “And that’s what this is all about. I want them to learn respect, right from wrong and the importance of working hard.”

The part about working hard was on display Saturday as 10 bags of trash were collected in approximately a half an hour.

What prompted a 15-year-old to give up a Saturday to pick up trash?

“I just like helping people,” Nate Rogers, of Upper Township, said.

Kayla Sturgill, 13, of Ironton, was an old hand at the cleanup. Sturgill said she had participated several times in the River Sweep. The main thing Sturgill said she has found in the years she has done this is styrofoam cups.

This was the first time Tanner Cremeans, 13, of Ironton, has taken part in River Sweep.

Volunteers said their oddest findings include hot water heaters, table and chairs, a refrigerator but mainly they find plastic, lots of plastic.

River Sweep was also sponsored locally by Coca Cola Bottling, 7Up Bottling and Foodfair in South Point, all of which provided food and drink. Sam’s Club provided a gift card to give away.