To call the second annual Allegheny River Clean-Up a success would be an understatement.
Last week, 502 volunteers donated more than 3,500 hours to removed trash from 31 miles of the river from Kinzua Dam to the Tidioute bridge.
They brought in quite a collection.
The clean-up yielded 9,650 pounds of metal, several hundred tires, 24 buckets of glass bottles, 33 bags of plastic bottles, 17 bags of aluminum cans, 70 cubic yards of trash, two kitchen stoves, eight refrigerators, three freezers, two sofas, three washing machines and much, much more.
“We had way more hands out there. That’s really what it came down to,” said Piper Lindell, one of the many people behind the planning of the event.
She added, “The partners and the volunteers in the clean-up are the key. Without them, my pile of trash at the end of the week would be pretty small.”
Lindell could not say enough about the tenacity of the volunteers and partner agencies.
“Northwest Savings Bank sent a enormous amount of volunteers There were a bunch of businesses who sent paid people,” she said. “The community pride here, from local folks and the folks who come here on vacation, is amazing”
Lindell is hopeful that this year will the last for big numbers.
“I think its the last big haul; not to say we might not find big items next year,” she said.
The amount of appliances and other big ticket items retrieved was shocking to some volunteers. However, Lindell noted that some of the trash was cleaned out of what she termed to be “ancient dump sites.”
“This is not from a fresh generation of litter bugs,” she said.
By cleaning up the trash on the banks and at the dump sites, volunteers were in essence saving the river from future pollution.
“When the river floods, this stuff won’t be going into the water,” Lindell said.
The Allegheny River Clean-Up was more than an event designed to purge trash from the waterway. It was also a method of putting an environmentally-conscious bug in the ears of the volunteers.
“We are creating stewards of the river. I had a lot of people who said they were going to keep an eye out when they are on the river,” Lindell said.
As a thank you to those stewards, a barbeque was held at Warren County Visitors Bureau in celebration of the week’s success. Organizers rewarded a few volunteers for their hard work and strange finds with the Second Annual Most Treasured Trash Awards which were recycled trophies with small garbage cans attached. Lindell noted that the categories are developed throughout the clean-up. The awards were:
¯ Top of the Heap Award for “the man who can make anything happen” went to volunteer John Beard.
¯ Trashiest Person Award went to Dick Klancher, who worked every day of the clean-up.
¯ Top of the Heap Award for the best find went to Amanda Battko and Jessica Roudybush for the Harley Davidson frame they retrieved.
¯ Top of the Heap Award for best river shopping cart maneuvering technique went to Joe Colosimo.
¯ Most Abnormal Trash Award went to “Grandpa” Dave Wargo for the creepy baby doll he dug out of the water.
¯ Top of the Heap Award for the volunteer from the furthest distance went to Mike Chapel from New Mexico.
¯ Top of the Heap Award for best toilet seat went to Bonnie Dinger
¯ Top of the Heap Award for best private boat brought to the clean-up went to Tom Hryvniak, of Rochester, N.Y., who brought his 15-foot crafted boat, with sail if needed, and filled it with trash two days in a row.
¯ Piper Lindell Award Award went to its namesake, Piper Lindell
Planning for the third installment of the clean-up begins as early as next week. The planning committee welcomes new volunteers and ideas. To get involved in the planning of the 2011 Allegheny River Clean-up, visit www.alleghenyrivercleanup.com
and use the contact form to reach the organizers.