Members of an Arco veterans group use regular highway cleaning campaigns as a way of staying united. And occasionally they use the cleanups to reunite lost items with their rightful owners.
In 16 years of litter patrols on U.S. 20 in eastern Idaho, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7137 has gathered more than seven tons of refuse (14,805 pounds). Among the treasures members found was a valuable collector’s knife. After identifying its owner, veterans returned the knife and received a $100 reward.
Another outing uncovered a moneybag full of checks that were lost or stolen before they reached their intended bank for deposit. Veterans discovered the lost checks along the highway and returned them to the business.
“Not only are we grateful for the litter being picked up on the highway, there also are members of the Arco community who are grateful for the services rendered and for finding and returning some valuable lost items,” explained Jeff Call, coordinator of the Idaho Transportation Department Adopt-A-Highway program in eastern Idaho.
Call successfully lobbied to have the veterans designated the District 6 Adopt-A-Highway group of the year. The honor will be formally presented at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday (June 21) during the Idaho Transportation Board meeting in Rigby. Group leaders will receive a certificate and a clock fashioned from a sample Idaho license plate.
The veterans group joined ITD’s Adopt-A-Highway program in 1990 and maintains at least two cleanup campaigns annually between mileposts 246 and 250.
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.