By Billy Corriher
Riverdale resident Hugh Oliver said that when his local Masonic Lodge started looking for some community service to perform, he jumped at the chance to help with the Great American Cleanup.
"I travel up and down (Ga.) Highway 85 every day, and it needs to be cleaned," he said. "Nobody ever takes the time and effort to do that."
Oliver said his lodge has recruited about 50 people to help clean up a section of the highway between Garden Walk Boulevard and Adams Drive Saturday morning at 9.
"We're trying to give back to the community," he said.
Even though the Great American Cleanup, a coordinated, nationwide volunteer effort, only runs through May, Oliver said his organization is planning to continue its efforts throughout the year.
"We'll do at least four or five more (cleanups) this year," he said.
James Hamm, the director of Keep Henry County Clean and Beautiful, said his organization is sponsoring a cookout and a remote control air show as part of Earth Day events next week to encourage recycling. The event will be held at the newly expanded Henry County Recycling Center on April 24 from noon to 2 p.m.
"We're going to be taking in a lot of stuff next week," he said. "We want Henry County to be able to recycle more."
On April 22 through April 24, the recycling center will also allow residents to dispose of large items that can become eyesores like appliances and scrap metal for free.
Hamm, who recently took over the organization, said Keep Henry County Clean and Beautiful could also be holding highway cleanups soon.
In addition to having volunteers help clean up this spring, Clayton County is also helping clear the roads by dedicating two or three times the usual number of inmate crews from the county correctional institution for highway cleanups.
Wade Starr, administrative assistant to the county commission, said the county would first dedicate the inmates to two sets of streets that are high priorities for cleaning.
"We're hoping to get those done in the first two weeks," he said.
Starr said the county is coordinating its efforts with Edie Yongue, director of Keep Clayton County Beautiful and the county's organizer of the Great American Cleanup.
Yongue said different organization would be working to clean up littered highways and other eyesores throughout the spring.
Though she has organized the Great American Cleanup for three years, Yongue said it's hard to tell how many people will help pick up around the county this year.
"I would like to do a whole lot more than we've done," she said. "We always need more volunteers."
Yongue said she could even organize a cleanup for a certain neighborhood if residents wanted to volunteer to help.
"If they wanted to spruce up a subdivision, we could do that," she said.
Yongue, who has been in charge of Keep Clayton County Beautiful for 18 years, said that keeping the area clean is a matter of taking pride in the community and being educated about how to keep it clean.
Tracy Woods, property manager of Lakeside Mobile Home Community in Ellenwood, said pride in her neighborhood is what motivated her to organize a cleanup for Lakeside.
"This will give (residents) an opportunity to show they care," she said.
The community will have a cleanup on April 24 at 8:30 a.m., Woods said, and residents will have the chance to meet one another and pick up around their neighborhood. After picking up litter, the volunteers will haul any large items to the landfill.
"I was planning on doing a community cleanup anyway, so with the Great American Cleanup, it all just kind of fell together," she said.