Volunteers clean Hancock County in River Sweep

NEW CUMBERLAND – Bill and Phyllis Swan have lived on the Ohio River for a long time, and, when it comes to trash, they’ve pretty much seen it all: old tires, parts of boats, parts of docks, tennis balls, bottles, life jackets and the fuel tank off a truck.

The New Cumberland couple is happy to report there’s not as much trash as there used to be, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

The Swans are the Hancock County co-chairs for River Sweep 2013, an annual Ohio River cleanup effort covering 3,000 miles of shoreline from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Ill.

“It’s grown so much now that it’s really taken off,” Bill Swan said. “We are seeing fewer and fewer bags (of trash) each year.”

River Sweep 2013 takes place on Saturday and incorporates a number of Hancock County locations, including Chester City Park, Kennedy Marina & Campground, Edgewater Park, and Swanee Landing. The latter is the Swans’ private boat dock on South River Avenue.

Volunteers will gather there at 9 a.m. Saturday to do cleanup work along the river bank. This year, they’ll also use a kayak to get access to areas difficult to reach by land. Participating volunteers will be provided with trash bags and gloves and a T-shirt when the work is done.

River Sweep is an initiative of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission and the Foundation for Ohio River Education. In 2012, more than 21,000 people in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois volunteered to collect trash and debris from the banks of the Ohio River and its tributaries.

Chester City Councilman Mike Dotson said he supports River Sweep but believes river cleanup should be an ongoing effort.

“We’ve already been doing it. We’re just going to continue being involved,” he said.

Dotson, who also organizes the annual Chester “Make It Shine” effort, said volunteers regularly help him clean up trash and debris from the Chester City Park boat ramp, under the Jennings Randolph Bridge, local marinas and tributaries.

Anyone interested in helping Dotson should contact him at 304-670-9296.

Anyone interested in volunteering at other River Sweep sites in Hancock County should contact the Swans at 304-374-1894.

(Huba can be contacted at shuba@reviewonline.com)