Two groups, for which community service holds special meaning, will be honored next week as the District 1 Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) groups of the year.
John McHugh who represents the district on the Idaho Transportation Board, will introduce representatives of Coeur d’Alene’s Anchor House and the Kootenai County Sheriff’s community labor program as honored participants.
They will receive certificates and clocks fashioned from a replica of an Idaho license plate.
Anchor House is part of the Idaho Youth Ranch. Established in 1983, it provides structured, community-based residential, academic, prevocational, substance abuse and other related services to troubled young people from throughout northern Idaho.
The group has participated in the Idaho Transportation Department’s Adopt-A-Highway program since its inception in 1991. Although records were not kept for the first few years, Anchor House residents have conducted 17 cleanup campaigns since 1996, collecting more than four tons of litter.
Anchor House is responsible for patrolling the shoulders of U.S. 95 between mileposts 427 and 429 under the supervision of D.V. Moyer.
The community labor program operated by the Kootenai Sheriff’s Office uses inmate labor on all major highways in the county.
“We have collected drug paraphernalia and numerous types of weapons, and we have found numerous personal identification cards, credit cards and checks,” explains program supervisor Sgt. Penny Haney.
Although litter patrols by inmates are common along the highways, the inmates also perform a number of other community activities, Haney explains.
“They clear driveways and walkways for senior citizens, plant trees, rake public areas and sweep the sidewalks after the winter season. They also clean up senior citizen centers and parks and recreational areas, have made new bike paths and campgrounds and Frisbee golf areas in local forest areas.”
Both groups will be honored during the transportation board’s July meeting at the District 1 office in Coeur d’Alene. The ceremony is scheduled for 9:50 a.m. Wednesday.
The AAH 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 1,150 groups spent approximately 27,404 person-hours statewide removing litter in 2004. 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 makes a tremendous difference in the appearance of Idaho’s highways, said statewide AAH coordinator, Sherie Sweaney.
Volunteers collected more than 2.3 million pounds of litter in 2004, 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 more information about adopting a stretch of highway, contact Sweaney at (800) 443-2878.