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Culdesac group committed to clean
community, highway

First in a series
The Culdesac Gem Community organization believes that if you’re going to invite company in for a party, you’ve got to dress in clean clothes.

The Culdesac civic organization has been sponsoring “She-bang Days” for the past six years as a way to generate money for community projects. Wanting to put the best face possible on Culdesac, the group joined the Idaho Transportation Department’s Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program in 2003.

Members committed to clean a three-mile stretch of U.S. 95 near their community, about 20 miles southeast of Lewiston. Although rookies by most standards, the Culdesac Gem Community out-performed veteran groups in its cleanup efforts and this week will be named District 2 AAH group of the year.

Board member Bruce Sweeney will present a framed certificate and a wall clock made from an Idaho license plate. Cherie Pentzer, a driver for the civic group, will accept the awards on behalf of her colleagues.

Culdesac observes Shebang Days on the second Saturday in June. The community organization uses proceeds to plant trees and shrubs and to make improvements to the city park and cemetery.

“Their goal is to beautify their city and instill some pride in the community,” explains Shane Niemela, coordinator of the volunteer highway clean-up program at ITD’s Lewiston office.

“They originally got involved in the Adopt-A-Highway program to clean up their section of highway before the two main city events(including the annual Parent-Teacher Association annual sausage feed in March).”

Eager to make a lasting impression on visitors, the group cleaned its section of highway six times, collecting a combined 2,450 pounds of litter. Even members of the organization who are limited by age or physical constraints participate by providing transportation.

“As busy as they are, they don’t have any rituals,” Niemela said. “They simply hit the road running and do the best job that they can with the time they are together. From what I can tell, this is just the first of many outstanding years of AAH service to come.”

The Adopt-A-Highway program organizes the cleaning of Idaho roadsides by volunteer groups. Those groups “adopt” a specific stretch of highway – usually two miles long – and take responsibility for keeping it clean through regular litter patrols.

More than 1,200 groups spent approximately 114,000 person hours removing litter in 2003. About 55 percent of state highways have been adopted, leaving ample opportunities for other groups and individuals to become involved.

The volume of material collected from the shoulders of Idaho highways more than doubled the past year, thanks largely to better monitoring and reporting, said statewide AAH coordinator Sherie Sweaney.

Volunteers collected more than 2.3 million pounds of litter, resulting in a savings to the state of nearly a quarter-million dollars that can be applied to other projects that improve safety and driving conditions.

For information about adopting a stretch of highway, contact Sweaney at 334-8465 or (800) 443-2878.

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