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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • River cleanup easier than usual

  • Whether the smaller amount of trash on local islands in the Mississippi River resulted from the lack of recent flooding or from people being more cooperative, the volunteers who helped with the Great Mississippi River Cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 22, were pleased to report there was less than expected.
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  • Whether the smaller amount of trash on local islands in the Mississippi River resulted from the lack of recent flooding or from people being more cooperative, the volunteers who helped with the Great Mississippi River Cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 22, were pleased to report there was less than expected.
    Carol Bowman, who was surprised to find bricks on an island at Hannibal, reported there was "not as much trash as I thought."
    Her report was echoed by several more of the 25 volunteers who helped with the cleanup on a chilly Saturday morning, such as Donnie Barbee. "I was surprised by the lack of debris," he said.
    Some of the youngest volunteers were Sariah Barbee, 10; and Sierrah Barbee, 14, who came with their parents, Donnie and Susan Barbee. "It was pretty clean," said Sierrah.
    After unloading their boatloads of trash into a dumpster, the group was soon sharing the donated lunches from Java Jive, while explaining some of the unusual items they had found.
    Among items found were several barrels, an unopened can of oil, and a complete picnic table.
    A cast iron sign was among Sharon Glascock's finds. She called the cleanup "a really nice and beneficial experience," noting she was a great-grandmother, and age should not keep anyone from volunteering. She added that between Minnesota and Hannibal there had been "probably 1,000 people" helping clean up the river.
    Zee Humenuk decided to leave the duck decoy he found on a boat owned by Living Lands & Waters, which is conducting the river cleanup.
    However, Humenuk had a souvenir that he planned to keep - he found a night light that he said "might work." He called the Courier-Post on Monday to report it did indeed still work after he cleaned it up, and he was making it a fancy shade.
    One group included Rhonda Schmelzle, Debbie Brown Witthause and her son, Del, 12. After reporting she "came from a family of commercial fishermen," Debbie said she wanted to pass on to her son to "respect our earth and environment and nature. ... We should always make it better." She added that volunteering "for your community is always a blessing - for yourself and for others."
    Ben Grafton, a crew member with the Living Lands & Waters, credited Mary Lynne Richards of Hannibal Park & Recreation with the successful local cleanup. "She did all the work," Grafton said. "We just brought the boats and life jackets." Hannibal Parks & Rec and the Hannibal Boat Club cosponsored the local cleanup.
    The cleanup will continue south to St. Louis, he said, and, "we will go up the Illinois River next." The organization cleans up the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio rivers. "Our goal is to beautify and restore America's rivers," he said.
    Richards' boat crew found "a beach umbrella, a huge boat rope, tons of tires, bottles and cans," she said.
    Page 2 of 2 - She appreciated the local people providing seven boats, including the Hannibal Boat Club members and others.
    Considering what "treasures" are found along these rivers, John Bostrom of Living Lands & Waters said, "we have the world's biggest 'message in a bottle' collection." The oldest one found is dated 1914, he said, and "some are love letters."
    Bostrom explained that this year, "We started in Memphis and went up to St. Paul and down (the Mississippi). Now we will do the Illinois and Ohio rivers."
    Memphis was the worst area they found this year, he added. "We spent a month there." He believes this was because it has become a popular location for college students on spring break.
    He thanked "everybody who came out" Saturday to help.
    See photo gallery for more pictures.

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