According to the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), “Since 1989, this cleanup for the Ohio River and its tributaries brings thousands of volunteers to the riverbanks to collect tons of trash and debris. River Sweep encompasses the entire length of the river, from its origin in Pittsburgh, PA to its end in Cairo, IL, including nearly 3,000 miles of shoreline and many tributaries.”
There are two sites locally where the cleanup will occur, Court Street Landing in Portsmouth and RiverSide Park in West Portsmouth. Sites will be open from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.
According to Scioto County Litter Control Agent, Jeff Crippen, volunteers removed around 4,800 pounds of trash last year.
He attributes much of that success to Upward Bound (UB) and Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) volunteers. UB and UBMS are programs offered through Shawnee State University for high school students that take place over the summer.
The organization has been involved with the cleanup over the past several years and typically come out a day early to do a pre-cleaning of the area.
“We involve our students with UB and UBMS weekly in community service activities as a way to foster service learning and community involvement, as well as a way to build their resumes and scholarship applications,” said Program Assistant, Kasie Leightenheimer.
Last year, 104 students joined the efforts and according to Leightenheimer they will have more than a hundred volunteers again this year.
“The kids did a really great job, they work really hard and we look forward to working with them,” said Crippen.
Volunteers can just show up on the day of the event, there is no registration but all volunteers must sign a waiver, those under 18 must have a guardian sign a waiver form for them. Volunteers will receive a free t-shirt for assisting.
“We do everything as safely as we can. There aren’t any cars where we clean-up so there’s no traffic risk. We provide surgical and cloth gloves and all the bags. We only pick up trash, we don’t move sticks, rocks, things like that. Some people will pick-up dead fish, but you can leave those where they are, they’re biodegradable so we’re not concerned about those,” said Crippen.
Volunteers are warned against handling condoms, drug paraphernalia and needles that may be found. It’s also advised that volunteers wear old clothing and closed toed shoes.
“Do not touch these items, we don’t want anyone getting stuck by a needle. Leave them where they are, alert the event coordinator at your site and they will handle it,” Crippen said.
Crippen says he is looking forward to the weekend and hopes to see a good turn out for the 2017 clean-up.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.