What began as a family effort to keep the community of Harvard free of highway debris has turned into a 13-year commitment to Idaho’s Adopt-A-Highway program and honors as the District 2 group of the year.
Idaho Transportation Board member Bruce Sweeney and District 2 Adopt-A-Highway coordinator Shane Niemela presented the district’s top award for 2006 to members of the Harvard Area Picker-Uppers, a group that formed in 1993.
Members of the group received the award Thursday during the transportation board meeting in Lewiston. The group received a framed certificate and a clock fashioned from an Idaho license plate as recognition for its long-term involvement in the highway clean-up campaign.
Harvard Picker-Uppers had a simple and rather humble beginning.
Irwin Minden and his wife Orvetta were discussing ways they could contribute to the betterment of their community and determined highway beautification would be a good place to begin. The idea was especially important since Idaho 16 is part of the 83-mile White Pine Scenic Byway that connects U.S. 95 north of Moscow and Interstate 90, east of Coeur d’Alene.
Irwin suggested they begin cleaning a three-mile section of Idaho 6 as it passes through Harvard, located about 27 miles northeast of Moscow. Irwin’s three sisters – Clarice Franklin, Wilma Gilliam and Marcella Stone embraced the idea and recruited their immediate family members to help
They held an informal family reunion along the shoulders of the highway as they picked up litter discarded by passing motorists. After they finished cleaning their adopted section they often shared a family breakfast.
Since those early days, the group expanded to include Irwin and Orvetta’s granddaughter Nikki, Dennis and Kay Chandler, Ken and Anne Kolar, Randy Pollack and the group’s new coordinator Dale Rose.
Since their first shift on the highway, the Harvard Picker-Uppers have collected more than 13,000 pounds of litter, including a few twenty-dollar bills, a checkbook and a few wallets. Orvetta once encountered a family of snakes living under a board next to the highway.
ITD’s 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 2006, removing an estimated 806,000 pounds of litter from Idaho’s roadsides. 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 have collected more than 3.1 million pounds of litter, resulting in a savings to the state of more than 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.