Members of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Grangeville take the concept “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness” as a fundamental principle, although you won’t find the oft-quoted phrase in the Bible.
If it were a divine proclamation, the church members would be several steps closer to heaven because of their diligence in keeping a stretch of U.S. 95 free of roadside litter.
Participants in the Idaho Transportation Department’s Adopt-A-Highway program since 1999, the church group has collected more than 6,000 pounds of garbage, either tossed from passing vehicles or escaped from unsecured loads.
The Rev. Chris Hagenbuch, who coordinates the group and its semiannual highway crusade, is a veteran when it comes to keeping things clean. He participated in similar litter patrols during his youth as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout.
When a section of U.S. 95 near the western edge of town became available, he seized the opportunity as a way that he and church members could generate pride in their community and engage in civic improvement. Usually the Adopt-A-Highway outings draw eight to 10 members, ranging in age from 7 to 80. The activity helps youths understand the concept of volunteer service.
Rev. Hagenbuch indicates that most of their outings produce normal litter, such as fast-food containers and beverage cans. Occasionally, group members find things of value, such as dollar bills and assorted tools. They frequently stumble across serpents in the grass, which always creates a little excitement, their leader admits.
The church group will be honored for its conscientious cleaning when it receives the District 2 Adopt-A-Highway Group of the Year award Thursday in Lewiston. The Idaho Transportation Board will present a certificate and a custom clock, fashioned from a replica of an Idaho license plate, to representatives of the church group.
The presentation is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday (April 20) at the district office at 2600 Frontage Rd.
The statewide 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 1,100 groups spent approximately 30,000-person hours statewide removing litter in 2005. About 50 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, 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.