Motorists traveling Interstate 84 in Canyon County won’t notice anything unusual along the highways as they make the 23-mile journey. That’s a credit to a constantly changing group of inmates who routinely scour the shoulders for trash and debris.
The Canyon County Sheriff’s Office began assigning inmates to regular cleanup campaigns in the 1980s, long before ITD initiated its statewide Adopt-A-Highway program.
When that program was formalized in 1993 it seemed natural for the sheriff’s office to adopt the stretch as its responsibility.
The Sheriff Inmate Labor Detail program will be recognized as the District 3 Adopt-A-Highway group of the year for its consistent – and highly productive – cleanup campaigns. A brief ceremony is planned Tuesday during the Idaho Transportation Board’s monthly business meeting.
Representatives of the Canyon County program will receive a certificate and a clock, fashioned from an Idaho license plate, during the board meeting Tuesday at the District 3 office on Chinden Boulevard.
Board member Monte McClure, who represents District 3, will make the presentation at about 10 a.m. Tuesday. Cpl. Jeannie Simon, who supervised the inmate detail for many years, and her successor Cpl. Eric Williams will be honored for their support of the Adopt-A-Highway program.
The Sheriff Inmate Labor Detail program is an alternative sentencing program that places people on a work crew rather than in a county jail, Williams explains.
“The highways and roadways are utilized by almost all members of our community. It is important that we use the resources we have available at the sheriff’s office to help keep our highways and roadways clean and safe for our community.
“Our SILD program utilizes its work crews for the Adopt-A-Highway program so that we are able to give back to the community by keeping our roadways clean and clear of debris. The work that the crews complete gives members of the work crew a sense of accomplishment and pride…”
The results are measured by what motorists don’t see along the interstate – garbage left behind by others. The sheriff’s detail conducted 41 cleanup outings in 2006, resulting in a collection of nearly 2 million pounds of litter – or approximately 1.5 pounds for every Idaho resident.
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, collecting 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 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.