Hundreds participate in annual River Sweep

STEUBENVILLE – Volunteers across seven states took to their local waterways Saturday morning for the 25th anniversary of River Sweep, a program to battle pollution organized by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission.

Locally, about 250 to 300 people cleaned up more than a mile-long stretch of shoreline at the Steubenville marina between 8 a.m. and noon, according to Anita Petrella, program director.

“We have such dedicated volunteers here. Even in the rain, they’re out here picking up litter,” she said. “I’m very pleased with the huge crowd we’ve seen today. Fifty people were waiting for us when we got here. Now that is dedication.”

Patti West, an Urban Mission volunteer, has been participating for 15 years.

“It’s just a fantastic turnout considering the weather,” West noted. “People brings their kids, their families. We have people of all ages, from 5 years old to 80, out here helping this morning.”

E. Louise Holliday, Jefferson County Education Coordinator for J.B. Green Team, said that more than 100 bags of garbage and recyclables had been collected so far.

Sponsors and groups who took part included J.B. Green Team, Wal-Mart, ArcelorMittal and numerous local 4-H groups including the Wildwood Critters. Wal-Mart provided flowers, mulch, potting soil, beverages and snacks, and employee-volunteers painted the flower pots, something Holliday said they do every year.

Rich McCullough of ArcelorMittal said they had about15 employees at the marina helping out and more at other River Sweep sites such as in Costonia and on county Road 60.

“We’re a corporate sponsor, and we enjoy taking part in this every year. My three kids are here with me this year,” McCullough said.

Matt Caprarese of ArcelorMittal said they’ve been taking part for about 10 years now.

“It’s one part of what we do through community outreach as a part of our Council for Stronger Communities. Our goal is to help protect and improve our environment,” he said.

Ginny Chandler, Wayne Township trustee, said the event contributes to environmental education for those who join in. She has also adopted four roads around Bloomingdale and cleans them “religiously.”

“What a great project! I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “If everybody just did their own property frontage like this then the world would be a better place. And you never know what you might find.”

Chandler said she’s come across a few $1 bills in the past. Holliday mentioned there was a surprising lack of tires found this year, but many golf balls, roofing shingles and a hot tub cover were recovered amongst the trash.

Steubenville police watched over the event, which Petrella said was appreciated.

Volunteers left with 25th anniversary River Sweep T-shirts and the knowledge that they helped make the river bank a cleaner place for local residents to enjoy.

(Dalrymple can be contacted at