BUCKHANNON - April is Make it Shine Month across the Mountain State, and Upshur County residents who want to chip in can start by signing up to adopt a highway.
Efforts are underway to promote the Adopt-a-Highway and Adopt-a-Spot programs in the county, Upshur County Solid Waste Authority Director Burl Smith told the Upshur County Commission at its meeting Thursday.
"This is a long-running program that many Upshur County people have taken part in and we want to have a promotion on it and really encourage people to continue with their program and get new people involved in it," Smith said.
Smith appeared before the commission with Callie Cronin Sams, district environmental coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Protection's Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan, or REAP.
Sams and Smith are encouraging local residents to attend an informational meeting about the Adopt-a-Highway, Adopt-a-Spot and Make it Shine programs at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at the Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School cafeteria.
Sams provided the commission with a run-down on what volunteers were able to accomplish through the Adopt-a-Highway, Adopt-a-Spot and Make it Shine programs in 2013.
"Last year, during the Make it Shine cleanup, 75 volunteers removed nearly 1,400 pounds of litter and debris from public lands in Upshur County, including 4 acres of parks," Sams said. "Also in 2013, 28 organizations representing 614 participants participating in the Adopt-a-Highway or Adopt-a-Spot programs cleaned 158 miles of Upshur County roads and highways, collecting 956 bags of garbage and 75 tires. Together, these groups spent nearly 300 hours doing cleanup.
"So I think that demonstrates what value the county's already getting from these programs, and we'd like to really see them expand," Sams added. "There's already quite a few roads and parks that are adopted, but there's plenty more that could be adopted, so that's what we're hoping to accomplish with the (March 13) promotional meeting."
The meeting will allow current volunteers and newcomers to sign up for the Adopt-a-Highway and Adopt-a-Spot programs - as well as provide essential safety training.
"We're going to have a map on display so they (those interested) can see what's already adopted, what's available, and we'll also be doing the safety training, which is very important," Sams said.
The first Adopt-a-Highway spring cleanup is slated for April 26, Sams said. The program requires that the adopting person or agency cleans both sides of a 2-mile stretch of road at least three times a year.
For more detailed information, contact Sams via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 304-924-6211, ext. 2014.
In other business, at the request of Dr. Joseph Reed and the Upshur County Health Department, the commission decided to send a letter in support of making the new National Guard Armory conference center a tobacco-free complex to state military representatives.
Reed presented the request at the Commission's Feb. 20 meeting.
Commission President JC Raffety emphasized the Commission has no decision-making power in the matter.
"Again, this is up to the military to make a decision; we don't have the authority to do that," he said.
Tenney made a motion to send the letter of support, which was seconded by Raffety and passed.
Commissioner Troy "Buddy" Brady said he believes tobacco use is a lesser problem than many other controlled substances.
"I really don't think that's (tobacco use) the biggest problem in the county," Brady said. "I think the biggest problem is all the drugs that's passed out - prescription drugs - and that's a bigger problem in the county than smoking or tobacco use, even though I think people who have smoked for years and used tobacco for years, it'd be healthier if they didn't."
Contact Katie Kuba by email at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at IMT-Kuba.