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Funkstown Lions take time to clear trash

November 12, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

FUNKSTOWN - When the Maryland State Highway Association came up with a program call Adopt-A-Highway, the Funkstown Lions Club decided to join.

A sign was erected just at the outskirts of Funkstown designating the ensuing two-mile stretch of Alt. U.S. 40 as the club's responsibility.

"About four years ago, we got a 10-year participation plaque on that sign," said Funkstown Lion Gail Mongan, who now heads the project.

A few weeks ago, about nine of the members of the Funkstown Lions Club did their semiannual cleanup of their section of the highway.

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Mongan said the club members split up, some at the beginning of their area and others at the Christmas tree farm - the end of the section.

"Two were on each side of the road and we all met in the middle," Mongan said.

All volunteers wear bright orange hats and equally colorful vests, which are provided by the SHA. Garbage bags also are supplied, Mongan said.

Gloves and sturdy shoes are necessary items.

"We use those grabber things or a broomstick with a nail to pick up some of the trash," Mongan said.

This fall, the bag total was 14 and the whole effort took just two hours.

"The highest we ever had was 34," Mongan said.

The volunteers tie the orange bags and leave them along the road for SHA trucks to pick up.

There is a contest on the state level for the most unusual item picked up during one of these efforts, Mongan said.

"We got a live guinea pig once," he said. The animal was taken to the home of a family that had other guinea pigs.

Three or four years ago, the volunteers found 24 boxes of brand-new shoes. Unfortunately, they had been out in the weather so long that they weren't worth anything.

"Most of the trash we find is at the Interstate 70 overpass," Mongan said.

He wasn't sure if it was from people throwing it over the bridge or if the wind blew it there.

Soda containers and fast-food wrappers are a big part of the typical trash.

When the work is done two times a year, the volunteers are treated to a catered dinner at the SHA headquarters off Sharpsburg Pike, Mongan said.

Throughout the county, signs are posted showing numerous Adopt-A-Highway areas and the names of the sponsors, including clubs, civic organizations, churches, schools, businesses, even individuals and families.

All volunteers must wear protective clothing and be at least 12 years old, Mongan said. A safety video is shown to all volunteers.

In Washington County, Diane Michel is the coordinator of the program.

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