Volunteers jump in to Rivers Alive cleanup

Published 11:17 am Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WINNING BANNER: The top team banner was created by the Bainbridge Tennis Association’s volunteers, displayed here by team members Joan Overton, Marcia Ray, Rosalyn Barber and Lindy Harrell.

This past Saturday’s Rivers Alive cleanup was a huge success, according to Suzanne Brandt, executive director of Keep Decatur County Beautiful (KDCB). She estimated there were more than 200 volunteers, and the weather was probably the best ever, in the 13 years KDCB has participated in the event held annually in October.

Although the official weight in tons of garbage picked up was not available at press time, there were stories to share of the many groups who came to help clean up. Volunteers cleaned up not just the river banks, but also Spring Creek, landings, some roads, and behind the Gilbert H. Gragg Library, where trash had accumulated.

A new competition was initiated this year. Each group of volunteers was asked to design a banner to post at their designated cleanup area. The Bainbridge Tennis Association had the winning banner.

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There were groups of volunteers, young and old, from churches, Lions and Rotary Clubs, Bainbridge College, Bainbridge High School students, the City of Bainbridge, Decatur County Sheriff’s Department, 4-H, two new Cub Scout groups, the Black Jack Volunteer Fire Department and Tex Par, to name just a few.

A long-time volunteer is Ben Ogle, who doesn’t even live in Decatur County, according to Brandt, but comes every year to help clean.

Not to be outdone, another lady came by the pavilion and asked what was happening. When told it was a clean-up, she said to hold on, and that she would be back with her children. Sure enough, she returned with four or five kids and they went to work cleaning the roadway along Hubert Dollar Drive.

Probably the most exciting event was experienced by Heather and Tom White, who took their kayak onto Spring Creek to clean. There, they came in very close contact with a giant alligator. According to postings on her Facebook page, it was a rather docile alligator, perhaps in hibernation, but still big enough to overpower a kayak.

Brandt said, as usual, there was some “interesting stuff” retrieved from the river, including a couple of broken toilets, a mattress, discarded backpack and clothing, old tires and frames, and a deer skull with only one antler.

This annual cleanup is done in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Foundation, in its continuous effort to clean and preserve more than 70,150 miles of Georgia’s waterways.