The illustration is the winning entry in this year’s River Sweep poster contest by Katie Long, a Ripley High School senior from Ripley, W. Va.
The illustration is the winning entry in this year’s River Sweep poster contest by Katie Long, a Ripley High School senior from Ripley, W. Va.
Volunteers are finding fewer and fewer broken dishes, televisions, recliners and other large pieces of trash during a multi-state Ohio River clean-up event each year - and that's a good thing.

It means the efforts of River Sweep volunteers are working. And, they'll be at it again on Saturday.

Most years, volunteers find some kind of large debris near the Ohio River shoreline from refrigerators to mattresses - even a rocking horse, Madison's River Sweep organizer Stephanie Hellmann said.

"We've found enough car parts to build a whole new car, I think," she said.

Yet year after year, larger debris items are becoming less common. That could mean the River Sweep mission to remove litter and debris from the river valley each year has made a difference over the past 24 years.

River Sweep, an annual event to clean the riverbanks of the Ohio River and its tributaries, began in 1989. Participants volunteer one day each year to collect tons of trash and debris along the entire length of the river, from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Ill.

The 25th annual event - organized by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission - will take place Saturday. The event is free, and participants will receive a t-shirt for their efforts.

Hellmann encouraged volunteers to wear older clothing and shoes for the clean-up event.

Although volunteers are discouraged from going into the river to retrieve trash, sturdy shoes are needed near the muddy waterline, she said.

"You want to wear clothes you don't mind getting dirty," she said.

In Madison, volunteers should meet at the Regatta judges' stand near Vaughn Drive and West Street. River Sweep will begin at 8 a.m. and end around 11:30 a.m.

Volunteers will be encouraged to spread from the Heritage Trail toward the Madison-Milton bridge and the city campground after registering for the event.

In Switzerland County, groups will clean the areas of Paul Ogle Park, Markland Dam Park, Bryants Creek and the Patriot Boat Ramp from 8 to 11 a.m.

Switzerland County organizer Valerie Smith said participants should register and sign a waiver at the Paul Ogle Park in Vevay before spreading out to different locations.

Another River Sweep event in Switzerland County will help to clean the Indian Creek Watershed and Fairview Road areas from 10 a.m. to noon. Organizer Chelsea Tooley said participants will meet at 10 a.m. at the Fairview United Methodist Church, 454 Fairview Rd., Vevay.

Tooley will have gloves and garbage bags for participants, and volunteers will also receive a small goodie bag after the event with the River Sweep t-shirt.

In Carroll County, volunteers will meet at Point Park at 8:30 a.m. for registration. Carrollton organizer Sam Burgess said participants will split up to clean the riverbanks of the Ohio and Kentucky rivers, Point Park and the downtown Carrollton area around 9 a.m. The clean-up usually ends around 11:30 a.m. Lunch and prizes are provided at the park following the sweep.

A waiver must be signed before participation in the event, organizers said. Waivers will be available at the registration locations or participants may chose to print a waiver from the ORSANCO website at www.orsanco.org/volunteer-waiver.