Volunteers beautify their surroundings during Great American Cleanup

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Cindy Meason and Vicki Samples of the Rockton Lions Club cleaned up sections of Rockton's Main Street.

Rainy and windy conditions failed to keep volunteers from teaming up to make Rockton, Roscoe and surrounding areas cleaner on Saturday, April 30, 2022. This effort was done in conjunction with Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful, who has spearheaded the Great American Cleanup every year for the past 33.

Volunteers started the day by picking up gloves, vests, garbage bags and grabber/reacher tools in front of the Rockton Village Municipal Center (Village Hall) at 110 E Main St. Tricia Diduch served as the main organizer in Rockton. Another pick up point was at the Village Green Park where another volunteer gave out the tools and equipment needed to clean up.

This year, non-profit groups and organizations were at the heart of making great progress. A total of 16 volunteers from all of these groups showed great pride in their community by cleaning up sections of Rockton and in surrounding areas. Young volunteers also made important contributions.

Eight members of the Rockton Lions Club worked in downtown Rockton and by the river. "The Lions enjoyed their time and had fun cleaning in our designated areas," Lion Terrie Garlow said. "We found lots of trash left by smokers but nothing too exciting."

Keli Freedlund led volunteers from the Rockton-Roscoe Rotary Club. "We had four volunteers who worked on a portion of Old River Road, just north of Roscoe Road. That section of road is known for deer crossings which resulted in so many car parts from collisions being uncovered." Rotary members also found a lot of recyclables, including bottles and bags which were all cleared from the area. "This was a great opportunity to help make a visible impact on the community," Freedlund said.

Hononegah Woman's Club added to the number of volunteers who cleaned up in Rockton's downtown and in wooded or grassy sections off of Main Street. The most interesting find was an old key chain with a mini Talcott Library card on it plus a key on the chain. After months of high winds, plastic bags were entwined in trees. Plastic bottles, paper, and small alcohol bottles and more were picked up.

Prior to the official clean up, Rockton Township's Road Commissioner Trenton Keyhoe and his crew have cleaned up quite a few roads in the Township. Resident Val Williams made the road department aware that Prairie Hill west of Route 2 was in horrible shape, as well as Yale Bridge Road. "The next day, the department jumped into action and cleaned them all," Williams said.

She adds, "They have been doing a great job on a consistent basis."

Also lending a hand ahead of time was Boy Scout Troop 619 who cleaned along the Hononegah bike path the day before Easter.

Rockton Village President John Peterson looked back on this year's event, "I appreciate everyone who came out to clean our Village. I enjoy participating in the clean up day every year. We should probably do something like this a few times a year."

Rockford Township trustee Frank Manzullo approached different towns and villages and stated that many are now doing their own cleanups throughout the year.

Over the time of the Great American Cleanup, thousands of volunteers have picked up as much as 30-40 tons of litter in a single day. Every year more progress continues to be made.

A new appreciation of nature's beauty has been made possible for area drivers due to this all-volunteer mission dedicated to a cleaner, brighter environment.

Bonnie Estrada, Marianne Mueller, Marci Taets and Jeanne Kovanda represented Hononegah Woman's Club during the Great American Cleanup on Saturday, April 30.
Jeanne Kovanda cleaned up wooded areas off Rockton's Main Street.
Peightyn, Ellie and Addysin Scriber cleaned outside the Rockton Village Hall.
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