Volunteers participate in Milligan Highway Cleanup

David Floyd • Jul 8, 2017 at 10:33 PM

Motorists traveling along a stretch of Milligan Highway on Saturday morning likely saw two small groups of people in safety vests picking up trash along the roadway.

Seven volunteers with Carter County Proud, a group dedicated to beautifying Carter County and engaging the community in clean-up efforts to rid the county of litter, participated in a highway cleanup starting at around 9 a.m. at Happy Valley Elementary School. The volunteers split into two groups and tackled the job in two directions.

The organization recently adopted two miles of Milligan Highway through the Tennessee Department of Transportation and is responsible for cleaning it once a quarter.

“The overall goal is for education — people seeing us out picking up trash,” said Ed Jordan, founder of Carter County Proud. “Hopefully that will register to them not to do it.”

Jordan said the group has had upward of eight people participate in the past and hopes more interest in the project will be generated as times goes on.

Michelle McLellan was among the volunteers Saturday and met Ed and his wife, Kathy, through church. 

“Ed talked about his idea for starting Carter County Proud, and me and my 11-year-old daughter go to all the events that we can,” she said.

Saturday was McLellan’s second time participating in the group’s Milligan Highway Cleanup, and she said she was astonished by the amount of trash the group picked up during the last event.

Carter County Commissioner Ross Garland was another participant in the cleanup Saturday.

“Anytime there’s something I can do to beautify and help clean up, I’m going to offer my services,” he said.

Along their stretch of the road, Garland said he and Jess Miller and Jerry McDowell, two other volunteers, had predominantly found discarded cigarette butts, plastic bottles and cans during their patrol along the roadside.

In total, volunteers filled 26 bags during the cleanup.

Carter County Proud recently organized a cleanup of the Tweetsie Trail in March in which more than a dozen volunteers traveled an approximately three-mile trek along the trail, stopping every few moments to pick up bits of old candy wrappers, plastic foam cups and other odds and ends. The volunteers carried signs with messages like “Every Litter Bit Hurts” and “Feed the Can, Man.”

The group will be planting perennials at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Elizabethton welcome sign near the golf course. The public is invited to participate. More details on the group’s efforts can be found on its Facebook page.

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