Volunteers needed for local River Sweep

STEUBENVILLE – Local volunteers are needed for the 25th anniversary of the River Sweep scheduled for Saturday at the Steubenville Marina and along Yellow Creek.

River Sweep is a riverbank cleanup that extends the entire length of the Ohio River and beyond. More than 3,000 miles of shoreline will be combed for trash and debris. This is the largest environmental event of its kind and encompasses six states and more than 3,000 miles of shoreline from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Ill., according to the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission.

The River Sweep is sponsored by ORSANCO and other state and local environmental agencies from Pennsylvania to Illinois. ORSANCO is the water pollution control agency for the Ohio River and its tributaries.

“We are thrilled to announce the date for the 25th-annual River Sweep. It is a special year. Volunteers have made incredible progress cleaning the Ohio River’s shores. As more people visit the Ohio River, we continue to find trash and debris” said Lisa Cochran, ORSANCO project manager. “We need volunteers.”

Locally, the JB Green Team will be hosting cleanups at the Steubenville Marina and Yellow Creek. Louise Holliday, JB Green Team education coordinator, said registration will begin at 9 a.m., with cleanup activities starting at 9:30 a.m. Each volunteer will receive a free T-shirt and certificate of participation. Refreshments will be served afterwards.

Volunteers for the cleanup along Yellow Creek should meet around 9 a.m. Saturday at Laney Field on county Road 60, north of East Springfield. The group then will proceed to Yellow Creek.

Employees at ArcelorMittal, FirstEnergy and the Steubenville Wal-Mart store will be volunteering. ArcelorMittal and Wal-Mart are corporate sponsors of River Sweep.

“Improved water quality has increased recreational use of the Ohio River and its tributaries,” Holliday said. “With increased recreation comes more litter on the river banks, making a yearly cleanup vital to our community. The River Sweep also increases public awareness of water quality and promotes good stewardship of the Ohio river and its tributaries. This is an excellent opportunity for citizens to play an active role in improving the environment and anyone who wants to make a difference in the water quality of the Ohio River can volunteer for the annual River Sweep.”

Last year, more than 200 volunteers participated locally in the River Sweep at the Steubenville and Mingo Junction marinas, in Toronto, Yellow Creek and Austin Lake. Holliday said more than 200 bags of debris, including roofing materials, rope and large pieces of Fiberglas, were collected from the banks of the Ohio River.

Contact Holliday at the JB Green Team office at (740) 266-6899 or send an e-mail to lholliday@jbgreenteam.org for more information or to register.

The River Sweep also will be conducted in Brooke County.

Ernie Jack, volunteer coordinator of River Sweep efforts in Wellsburg, said the city has participated in the event in each of its 25 years. The late Dick Boyd, a professor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, served as the first coordinator for Wellsburg, he said.

Jack said because much of Brooke County’s riverfront is on private property, volunteers are invited also to clean up along several streams that empty into the Ohio River. They include Buffalo, Cross, Short and Harmon creeks and Allegheny and Mahan runs.

River Sweep T-shirts, gloves and bags will be distributed to volunteers at the Wellsburg Wharf near Sixth Street at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

(Staff writer Warren Scott also contributed to this report.)