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Volunteers take tires from river
River Cleanup - big tire.jpg
It took a combined effort between Warren County JROTC members and Kids of the Community to pull a large tractor tire from the water.

A huge tractor tire that was spotted 5 feet underwater was one of the largest items removed from local waterways on Saturday as Breakfast Rotary held its 15th annual River Cleanup.

Members of Kids of the Community and Warren County’s JROTC program combined to wrestle the tractor tire out of the water in an effort that took several people.

“We’re thankful it wasn’t as bad this year as it’s been in the past,” said Breakfast Rotary member Rachel Killebrew, who said right at 150 people volunteered Saturday. “We’ve had years where we’ve pulled around 200 tires from the water but this year it was right around 50.”

Killebrew said Breakfast Rotary started the cleanup after a comment made by McMinnville resident Ernie Campbell, who participated in Saturday’s event and says he’s only missed two in 15 years.

“I told Rachel that going on the river was like seeing an old friend sick,” said Campbell. “I like to go on the river at least once a week and call it my day-cation. It had gotten to the point where I’d take a contractor bag with me and I’d have it filled up in no time at all.”

Campbell, 65, said cleanup efforts have been highly effective.

“I’ve been going to the river since I was 8 years old and I’ve probably spent as much time floating the river as anyone around here,” said Campbell. “It really looks great right now. It looks better than I’ve seen it since I was 8. It makes me very proud to know there are people in our community who will take time on a Saturday in 100 degree heat to go out and clean that river. Pam Pescevic and Kids of the Community should be applauded because they do a great job.”

Killebrew says Breakfast Rotary is now pushing an Adopt-A-Mile Program that encourages river cleaning efforts more than one time annually.

“That gets people cleaning up a section of river on a year-round basis and it’s been a great help,” said Killebrew.

In talking about river well-being and also the well-being of people who use it, Killebrew suggested for kayakers to be aware of the four-digit codes that have been placed in visible areas along the Barren Fork River, Collins River, and also Hickory Creek.

The four-digit code might say BF07, for example, which means you’re on the Barren Fork River at mile marker 7.

“So many times when people run into trouble on the river and call 911, they have no idea where they are,” said Killebrew. “The codes are very helpful to let people know where you are.”