SOMERS, N.Y. - Three or four years ago Joanna and Rich Nash decided they ought to go out walking for exercise. After some time spent strolling along Lake Road, they agreed it was direly in need of a little grooming. So they applied to Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy for an Adopt-A-Road permit and their little stroll mushroomed into a nearly continuous clean-up campaign.
Perhaps you have seen them in their yellow reflective jackets marked, Keep Somers Clean, toting plastic bags and bending to pick up litter. The permit requires that you clean up four times a year but the Nashes often find themselves out there six days a week, up to two hours a day.
The road is three miles long, so it is a six-mile round trip.
At first we thought wed just do what we could, but the more we did, the more we saw, said Rich Nash. One time we found an abandoned rabbit cage, four by eight feet. We were moving it along, about six inches at a time, when a car stopped to ask if we wanted help. Then they said, Hmm, we could probably use that cage for our guinea pigs, so they took it away.
Joanna Nash said they do get support from professionals.
If something is really heavy, the town will come to pick it up, said Joanna Nash. We have to thank Tommy, the highway superintendent, and his assistant, Louie, and the secretary, Kathy. Theyve been great.
The Nashes find everything you can imagine along the road: insulin syringes, bottles of all ages, cans, old tires, TVs and even a dishwasher. Rich Nash says the hardest thing to pick up is a cigarette butt.
"You pick them up and they drop right through your fingers," he said. "One time I decided to count them. I picked up 448 butts in six miles.
His wife doesn't enjoy picking up open ketchup packets. They do not wear gloves when they work. Many people wave to them and some want to shake hands, but they have to refuse.
The deer like to go to the reservoir for water, so we get lots of deer ticks, said Rich Nash, Especially when we go diving.
Diving means going into the wooded areas to clean up.
This time of year, when the leaves begin to fall, you see more and more refuse in there," he said.
Rich Nash thinks the problem was exacerbated when they raised the drinking age from 18 to 21.
Weekends and holidays are the worst because the kids come in here to party," he said, adding that he thinks it has gotten worse over the years.
Sometimes after we finish one side and go back, we find fresh litter along the way," he said. "People just keep throwing things out."
Does he get angry?
Well, its going to happen, so, He shrugs. There is a sign asking people to keep it clean and another one threatening a $1,000 fine for dumping, but "
The Nashes have also noticed that there are some repeat offenders who have a pattern.
And then theres the guy who leaves us McDonalds wrappers every day in the same place," Rich Nash said. "Id love to catch some of these people.
If you see Rich and Joanna Nash along the road, give them a wave. They are sorry, however, that they cant shake hands. And they sure would appreciate it if you saved your litter until you got home.
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