COVINGTON, Ky. - Volunteers who cleaned debris off Covington’s riverbanks Saturday carried away spare tires, half a pallet, a cloth folding chair, about 90 bags of garbage and debris and 15 large bags full of plastic bottles to be recycled.
But there was no doubt what the crown jewel of Ohio River Sweep 2018 was:
Almost completely buried in the mud on the riverbank between and Clay Wade Bailey and Brent Spence Bridges, the Kroger shopping cart had achieved legendary status by surviving previous River Sweep cleanups.
The first year, volunteers had given it a half-hearted attempt and deemed it hopeless.
The second year, they’d dug it halfway out and pulled and yanked to no avail.
The third year, despite having to start the digging from scratch because the river had filled in the hole with sediment, volunteers dug far enough down to realize the problem - the cart was anchored by a root 4 inches in diameter snaking through its metal bars at its deepest point in the mud.
The fourth year they came “armed.”
“We had full-size shovels, a saw and four people who wouldn’t quit,” joked Sheila Fields, Covington’s Solid Waste & Recycling Coordinator. “We weren’t leaving until we got it.”
And so the cart, finally freed from its prison, was dragged to the pile of refuse to be hauled away.
About 70 volunteers in all worked at three locations in Covington as part of the annual six-state cleanup event that stretches the 981-mile length of the Ohio River plus its tributaries from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Cairo, Ill. One local River Sweep location was on the Licking River, the other two on the Ohio River.
The Covington event is sponsored by Keep Covington Beautiful, the City, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, and Rumpke Waste & Recycling, which hauled away the debris.
“We didn’t pick up as much garbage as some other years,” Fields said. “But that’s a good thing. It means the banks are getting cleaner and that most of what we picked up are ‘new’ debris, carried down by spring floodwaters or recently tossed out.”
Fields and other organizers praised the volunteers who gave up their Saturday morning to work. “It was hot and we all got sweaty and muddy,” she said. “But the rivers and their banks are prettier now.”
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