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TDEC to help with river cleanup
Warren County High Schools Interact Club was among numerous clubs, organizations, business and individuals that helped in this years River Cleanup Project by McMinnville Breakfast Rotary Club. With assistance from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, club members are branching out into education due to new trash being found in the river after nine years of cleaning. Pictured, from left, are Emily Pennington, Gwynie Simpson, Carigan Aughinbaugh and Kaylee Chisam.

After almost a decade of spearheading an effort to clean the Barren Fork River, McMinnville Breakfast Rotary Club is receiving a helping hand from the state to keep the river clean.
Offering its assistance is the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Tara Wohlgemuth with the department spoke to club members recently and offered to help the club spearhead a communitywide education effort.
“Citizens can make a difference in the environment decisions affecting their community and state,” said Wohlgemuth.
Breakfast Rotary committed itself nine years ago to a River Cleanup Project after listening to reports from avid river fishermen, boaters and swimmers that the Barren Fork River was full of trash, abandoned tires, rusty barrels and even car frames and other trash.
 After nine years of annual cleanup efforts, volunteers have removed over 50 tons of trash, hundreds of tires, and have grown the effort from less than 50 volunteers on a 3-mile portion of the river to more than 400 volunteers and 65 miles of river.
The event has become a community effort with companies making donations and offering to recycle trash, the city of McMinnville picking up the trash that’s pulled from the river and taking it to collection sites, and members of local organizations, businesses, high school clubs, etc. volunteering to work the event.
No one doubts the success. However, club members have discovered something disturbing that needs to be addressed with education.
“This communitywide effort has been a huge success and we are all proud of our efforts, but the three miles that we started cleaning up still has trash each year. This is disturbing to see,” said Breakfast Rotary member Rachel Killebrew. “So what is the next step to stopping this continuation of trash and how do we make permanent changes? After all, there are more than 150 miles of rivers and creeks in Warren County.”
Tossed into the water was the idea to begin an “Adopt a Mile of River,” but club members were unsure how to begin such a large-scale effort. 
TDEC has a motto of “Improve, Conserve, Protect” and it has offered to help the club take the next steps that will include education of all ages and a long-term plan for a steady improvement by the placement of trashcans and recycling.
“Included with the cleanups, TDEC will provide trash containers, recycling opportunities and many more new ways we can continue this commitment to improve our waterways so that all ages can continue to swim, fish, kayak, canoe and enjoy the beauty of our many rivers,” said Killebrew.
The 2016 River Cleanup Project cleaned 40 miles of river in Warren County.