Devoted Ozark Countians step up during ‘Clean Up Trash’ month

Missouri Department of Transportation employees Shannon Huff, left, and Kane Thomas show the yellow trash bags available from MoDOT’s Gainesville maintenance shed for volunteers picking up trash along the roadsides.

Janet Taber snapped this photo of a Wasola friend, Delores Ray, as she worked to clean up “her” stretch of Highway 5 near her home. Janet wrote, “She’s in her work clothes, hair windblown, and she has cuts and scratches on her arms from today’s work, but she isn’t stopping until she finishes the stretch she calls hers. Why? Because it is the right thing to do – to be a good steward of this land.”

Locust-area resident Jonna Richison picked up 15 bags of trash last week along a mile-and-a-half stretch of Locust Road (County Road 603). She says there’s more to be picked up – and she’ll be back at it soon.

Ozark Countians are showing their appreciation for their beautiful home in the hills – and their disdain for the litter that takes away from its beauty. Reports are coming in of residents working along its winding roadsides during April, which has been designated “Clean Up Trash  month” by the county commissioners. April 15 is also the beginning of the month-long “No MOre Trash bash” sponsored by the Missouri Departments of Conservation and Transportation.
The proclamations focus on “spring cleaning” by asking people to pick up litter from roadsides, parks, rivers, streams, trails – wherever it appears.
Wasola-area resident Janet Taber caught her neighbor Delores Ray in action recently as Delores worked along Highway 5 in that community. In a Facebook post, Janet wrote, “She has made it her mission to keep the trash along ‘her’ stretch of Highway 5 picked up. She also nips all the cedars along that way, eliminating the need for taxpayers’ money to be spent cutting them when they get too big. ... She is ashamed of the trash that accumulates so rapidly and does her part to help clean it up. If we all could have just a bit of Delores’s big heart and acted on our convictions, it would go a long way toward making our beloved Ozark County cleaner and tidier and neater and healthier. Delores Ray is my hero today!”
 Taber’s post generated dozens of praise-filled comments. Debra Delp commented that she had seen someone else – a man – out picking up trash along Highway 5. “Sure makes my day and certainly something to smile about!” she wrote.
Meanwhile, Locust-area resident Jonna Richison last Thursday picked up 15 bags of trash on a mile-and-a-half stretch of Locust Road from Highway 160 to Locust Creek. She loaded up the 15 bags and piled them in her S-10 Chevy pickup to haul to the dumpster the county has installed at the recycling center on County Road 513 at Lilly Ridge. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Jonna says there’s still more trash out there, waiting to be picked up – and she’ll be out there soon, working to get her road cleaned.
Ozark County Presiding Commissioner John Turner said he’s been pleased to see local residents stepping up to attack the roadside trash. “A group came over from the river the other day with sacks of trash they had picked up along the river. And I heard of a bunch of high school kids who were picking up trash along Highway 5 north. The weather has been terrible, and that’s made it hard, but maybe now that it’s warming up, more people will get out there,” he said, adding that he and his wife, Phyllis, had picked up trash along a stretch of Highway 160 in Gainesville.
MoDOT is providing yellow trash bags for those volunteering to pick up trash along the road sides. Stop by the Gainesville MoDOT maintenance shed around 4-4:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, when crews are returning from their roadwork, and pick up some of the free bags. During hours when the shed is closed, Turner said, the commissioners also have the bags in their office on the second floor of the courthouse.
A news release from MDC and MoDOT said MoDOT spends about $6.75 million each year to remove litter along 34,000 state highway miles. “Many animals mistake litter for food and become sick and die when thety try to ingest it,” said MDC No MOre Trash coordinator Joe Jerek. “Birds, fish, turtles and other animals also get tangled in litter, such as six-pack holders and fishing line, and it can kill them.”

Ozark County Times

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