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Rock River Sweep nets everything from engine block to Barbie Jeep

Published: Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 10:32 a.m. CDT
Volunteer Sergio Carreno unloads a bag of garbage collected from the banks of the Rock River Sept. 8 during the Oregon Area River Sweep. Photo by Vinde Wells
Mark Nehrkorn picks up debris below the Oregon dam Sept. 8 during Rock River Sweep. Nehrkorn was this year's organizer.

Everything from an engine block to a Barbie Jeep were picked up from the edges of the Rock River in and near Oregon Sept. 8 during annual clean-up efforts.

Forty-some volunteers pitched in for the fourth annual Oregon Area Rock River Sweep, picking up, sorting, and properly disposing of debris from along the river's banks from Lowden State Park to Castle Rock State Park.

They collected a grand total of 30 bags of items to be recycled, 25 bags of garbage, 400 pounds of steel, and 300 pounds of large items classified as garbage.

The one-day event includes local clean-ups conducted simultaneously in many communities along the river from Horicon, Wis., to Rock Island.

Angela Mahoney, one the event's organizers, said the volunteers included residents of Oregon and surrounding communities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Venture Crew 52, and youths from elementary through high school age.

With the summer drought the river is unusually low and allowed the volunteers to go places that are ordinarily under water. "There was a lot more shoreline we could get to," Mahoney said.

Besides the engine block and Barbie Jeep, other unusual items included 12 tires, two air mattresses, a highway construction barrel, and a mannequin arm, she said.

Organizer Mark Nehrkorn said the bright sunshine and cool temperatures Saturday morning made for a pleasant day for the project.

"It's perfect weather for this," he said. "As long as we pull one bag of garbage out of the river we've been successful, and we've got a lot more than that."

Nehrkorn praised the efforts of the volunteers and expressed appreciation to the event's sponsors, which included the Ogle County Sheriff's Department, Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department, Oregon Park District, Oregon Friends of the Rock River, Oregon School District, and American Rivers.

"We really appreciate all the help they give us," he said.

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