Posted 4/18/12 (Wed)
By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer
What do you call 22 teams, 135 people and 1,446 bags of trash? Karen Holte, JoLynn Pelton, MaLissa Schroeder and their team will tell you that is what McKenzie County calls “Picking Up the Patch!”
“There was an awesome show of people and they worked really hard,” says Holte.
Last Saturday, residents from all over the county joined together for some friendly competition and long overdue litter control.
The day was beautiful, nearly 70 degrees with little to no wind. And with the weather being mostly colder, damp and windy the last week, it was a blessing not to have to fight the weather too.
“It was like God was looking out for us while we were out cleaning up his country,” describes Holte.
Teams cleaned east of Watford City out to Schafer Cemetery, the truck bypass route, south to County Road 30, west a mile and a half past Arnegard and north out of Watford City about a mile. Teams also cleaned the McKenzie County Fairgrounds, around the new Power Fuels apartments behind the McKenzie County Courthouse, five miles from Johnson Corners south on County Road 53 and around Keene.
Teams made their own sticks to grab or stab trash with. Many brought their own trailers or trucks for hauling filled bags back to the elementary school.
Even though the cleaning started at 10 a.m., volunteers continued to show up throughout the day. Along with Holte and Pelton, Marilyn Schroeder and Sandi Crimmins were available for anyone needing directions to places to clean, more bags or water or even some candy to keep going.
The winning team was Power Fuels. Their team of 14 was able to collect 177 bags of trash. They worked west of Watford City from Mitchell’s Oil Field Service up the hill to Madison Flats.
Meghan Nelson helped to organize the Power Fuels team and was proud to see all the community support.
“Actions speak louder than words,” says Nelson. “The community-wide effort is greatly appreciated by everybody.”
The Power Fuels team received the $200 first place prize. The Keene team was a close second and McKenzie Electric Cooperative came in third.
“I wish we could have given every team something just for being out there,” says Pelton.
The sheer amont of garbage collected is impressive, but what did teams actually find in the ditches?
“It was interesting,” says John O’Connor who helped count and track bags as they came in. “All kinds of stuff kept coming in all day. It was just a mountain.”
The usual bottles, cans, cigarette butts, boxes, and all kinds of packaging were collected along with some more unusual things. Power Fuels found a 200-pound tire, rim and all, a mattress and lots of gloves. The Epiphany Catholic Church and North Star team found a Ford vehicle sign, and an American flag. Teams also brought in a dog house and a sink.
Driving past the ditches before Saturday, it was plain to see there was a littering problem. Many from the event will say that being in the ditches was a whole other experience.
“There was so much more in the ditches once you got down into them,” says Pelton. “It’s very different than when you just drive by them.”
The day proved to be a spectacular display of community support and active engagement in service. Such a display is very telling of how many are committed to seeing their community remain the healthy, beautiful and respected one that it is.
“It was quite the undertaking, but it’s a good feeling,” says Holte. “Maybe those that saw us out there will think twice and keep their trash until they can find a dumpster.”
“It was an awesome, awesome day,” adds Pelton. “It was a great success. The response was overwhelming. A big, big thanks to everyone!”
1,446 is too many bags of trash. It is the hope of many that Saturday’s “Pick Up the Patch” will make all drivers more aware of their trash and how they dispose of it.