River flowing with help

By Amy Barger

MIAMI COUNTY — The 12th annual Great Miami River Clean Sweep sponsored by the non-profit organization Protecting Our Water-Ways (POWW) kicked off on Sunday with 120 volunteers helping to clear waste along the Great Miami River from south Sidney to south Piqua.

The event focuses on removing trash to help restore the beauty and health of the Great Miami River and recognizes the community has a desire for a cleaner river. This was also an opportunity for the community to learn about the water-way.

Four teams that included POWW members and community volunteers covered 16 miles of the river, with some volunteers in pick-up trucks transporting large waste to a dumpster, or walking along the bank to pick up trash.

Because the water levels of the river were high and the current flowed fast, canoes were not used during the sweep as originally planned for safety purposes. However, that did not stop volunteers from coming out and cleaning along the river bank by foot.

One out of the four teams collected 38 tires along the river bank, filling a dumpster of about 12 feet long and five feet deep with waste. Some of the most unusual items the group found were a Winnie the Pooh lawn mower, underwear, a microwave door, and a giant bag of bones.

Shawn Spivey, of Piqua, has volunteered for 10 years at the event. His most unusual find in all those years was a Piqua Daily Call paper dispenser, filled with newspapers. Spivey said someone allegedly broke the money compartment to take the change and ejected the dispenser into the river.

Spivey shared what keeps him coming back each year.

“I believe we do it because it’s just something we felt like we were giving back in a way,” he said. “We utilize the river and we canoe and kayak along the river, so why not help keep it clean? It’s where we play at sometimes.”

Families came out to help as well. Lee Geiger, of Piqua, has volunteered for the cause with 11 years of experience and brought his son, Mark Geiger, for the first time. Mark was visiting from West Virginia to serve the community. Together, they pulled out a lawn chair in one piece from the river.

Reach Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.

Amy Barger | Piqua Daily Call