A washing machine, a cash register, and 187 tires.
Those are some of the things pulled from Warren County rivers Saturday as McMinnville’s Breakfast Rotary Club held its eighth annual River Ride and Cleanup.
A record 300 volunteers participated, double the previous high of 150. Warren County Utility District manager Mike Green was among those who pulled trash from the water and had one of the more unusual finds.
“It looked like a seat out of an old van,” said Green. “It took five or six of us just to get it in the boat. It weighted down the boat so much it sunk twice. One time we had to totally unload it and turn it over to get all the water out. Of all the trash we pulled out, there’s probably still twice that much left.”
Volunteers pulled 7 tons of trash from Hickory Creek and the Barren Fork and Collins rivers. About 13 miles of waterways were cleaned, according to organizer Neal Cox, who speculated on reasons why people would throw so much trash into rivers.
“I think a lot of times people will load up their trash, head to the dump and find out it’s closed,” said Cox. “Then on their way home, they will throw it in a ditch or in the river. Typically we’ll find the most trash around bridges."
Continued Cox, "What this community needs is a 24-7, 365-day dump site. I think that would help.”
Cox said Kids of the Community representative Pam Pesevic sifted through the 7 tons of trash and found about 500 pounds of materials which can be recycled. The 187 tires will be picked up by Bridgestone and recycled.
Cox was appreciative of all the volunteers who contributed. He said Smooth Rapids donated 50 kayaks and the Boy Scouts donated 30 canoes for use that day. A number of local businesses had employees working together as a team.
As for next year’s efforts, Cox said he will be looking to get permission from more riverfront property owners to use their property as a temporary drop site for trash. That way trash won’t have to be hauled so far along the river.
“What we need is a lot more spots to leave trash,” said Cox. “If the property owners will allow us to leave it there Saturday, the city will come and pick it up Monday. It would be a very temporary thing.”
Breakfast Rotary has purchased some kayaks and life jackets to use for the cleanup. Cox said the organization will likely be looking to purchase flat-bottom boats in the future as it’s been determined they work better than kayaks for collecting trash.
As for volunteers, it was the first year for Green and Warren County Utility District to participate. He said he plans to continue donating his time in the future.
“I’d like to encourage everybody to take part in this because it’s a great way to give back and it’s badly needed,” said Green. “People fishing or floating along the river may not notice, but if you’re looking for trash you’re going to find it.”