FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) — Donning a bright reflective vest, orange garbage bags in his back pocket and a trash grabber in his hand, Wayne Worth walked along US Route 250 between downtown Fairmont and Barrackville picking up roadway debris.
He was joined by a small group of volunteers who spent their weekend picking up trash on the side of the road.
“I’ve traveled through all the 55 counties and we have a beautiful state, but one thing we really need to improve on is litter control,” Worth said. “I decided with a few friends that we’d go to a county, identify a highway that’s not adopted, clean it up and put the message out to encourage people to adopt more highways.”
Worth is a YouTuber and vlogger and runs the channel On the Road in West Virginia. His goal with the channel is to document an interesting aspect of each county’s history and culture.
However, he put his video camera aside Jan. 28 and picked up litter.
One of the roads he noticed needed attention was this stretch of US 250.
Worth has led litter pick-up initiatives around his home county of Harrison for the last 4 years. Now, he’s starting to venture out and lead more around the state.
His primary goal is to bring attention to the problem and encourage local organizations and groups to adopt highways themselves.
In West Virginia, the process of adopting a highway is simple. The West Virginia Division of Highways has a number to contact to sign up.
Volunteers are provided all the training and equipment for free. All that’s required is the stretch of road be two miles long and that the volunteers carry out three clean ups per year.
The DOH will also erect a sign at the start of the road stating who the adopters are.
The Adopt-A-Highway Program is co-sponsored by the Division of Highways and the Department of Environmental Protection. It was established in the late 1980s under the Division of Natural Resources to improve the quality of our environment by encouraging public involvement in the elimination of highway litter, according to the DEP website.
Joining Worth were five other volunteers, one of whom was Brad Riffee, executive director of the United Way of Harrison and Doddridge Counties, but on this occasion he was just another volunteer.
He believes that if the state is going to improve itself, the people have to pitch in together.
“We’re all West Virginians. If we’re going to make our state healthier, cleaner and improve the well-being of our communities then it’s going to take us all,” Riffee said. “I’m honored to serve with this group and all the volunteers around the state and specifically this group here, they really make a difference.”
While Riffee and the others get a certain joy from driving down a clean road after a day of picking up litter, the real fulfillment is in the act itself.
“When you can wake up at the start of the day and help others and your community, that’s a gift and it shouldn’t be squandered ” Riffee said. “Share the blessings, that’s what it’s about.”
Worth felt much the same way.
With the little effort it takes to get involved in the Adopt-A-Highway program and the small commitment it takes to make a difference, Worth hopes everyone helps make a difference across the state.
“My motto is, two miles, three times a year and you can make a difference in your community,” Worth said. “I’ve picked up a lot of litter and just during the process, people stopping to say ‘thank you’ and honking their horns, it really builds a sense of pride in the community. It shows that someone cares.”
For more information about West Virginia’s Adopt-A-Highway program, call (800) 322-5530.