An ambitious Nevada-Vernon County Chamber of Commerce project will accept volunteers through Monday, April 23, for "Operation Clean Sweep Nevada," which is linked to U.S. 71's conversion into Interstate 49 and other imperatives.
The work will begin with a free biscuit and gravy breakfast for the volunteers at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 28, at the Franklin P. Norman City/County Community Center and run through noon in the city's shopping, arts and entertainment districts, Highways 71 and 54, Austin Boulevard, Ash Street and Nevada Square.
Call Chamber Director Gina Ensor at (417) 667-5300 or Project Chairwoman Lynda Jones at (417) 448-4495. "I got sick of looking at the trash when I rode my bicycle or drove," said Jones, former chamber director.
"We had a community betterment committee in the 1990s that Mike Ast did a really good job with. It'll be what we can get done in three hours and we're hoping for at least 100 volunteers.
"Bring eye protection, a hat, sunscreen, rakes, gloves, brooms or Weed Eaters. The problem areas seem to be the interchanges at Camp Clark and the Highland Street exit and on 54 east between Highway 71 and the railroad tracks."
Jones said the Missouri Department of Transportation has donated a large number of yellow trash bags to the chamber and that MoDOT and the city of Nevada will pick up bags left on the sides of the streets and highways.
"We need to step up to the plate and make our section of the world look neater," she said Thursday.
"MoDOT is also giving us safety vests. Groups and businesses are welcome to participate at another time, but they need to let us know so we can get them some vests and bags.
"I see this trash a lot. It bothers me. I want to pick it up, but I can't do it by myself."
MoDOT Resident Engineer Darin Hamelink of Nevada said Thursday that Operation Clean Sweep is not directly related to his work on 71, but he is encouraging it because it addresses a serious problem. "It's a big help to us because we spend a lot of money picking up trash statewide," said Hamelink.
"It does us a service. It's pretty trashy on 71 north of 54 and against the fence on the 54 interchange. I think they will be working on Austin and Ash and maybe go south to where Ash turns into Highway BB.
"It's a good deal when people can adopt a mile of road and pick it up three times a year. We give them vests and bags and we'll put up a sign in memory of someone or in recognition of an organization."
MoDOT gets some support of U.S. 71 from Missouri Department of Corrections honor crews from Ozark Correctional Center east of Springfield at Fordland, whose help Hamelink expects to increase when 71 wins I-49 designation late this year.
"They send out five to seven crews at a time, mostly to work on I-44," he said. "They do weed-eating around guardrails and bridging where our mowers can't reach."