2019 River Cleanup Best Yet

Thursday, August 29, 2019 3:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Friends of the Shiawassee River and the Shiawassee County Health Department wish to thank all event participants and sponsors of this 24th annual event


August 12, 2019 - OWOSSO, MI – Representatives of the Friends of the Shiawassee River and the Shiawassee County Health Department have declared their July 27th 2019 River Cleanup event to be a rousing success and wish to thank all those who supported the endeavor.

“Almost 200 volunteers turned out to help remove 15 cubic yards of trash (approximately 90 13-gallon trash bags full) and over 800 tires both from the river together with the tire collection event that was held at the Shiawassee County Road Commission,” said Larry Johnson, SCHD Director.  “It was by far our most successful cleanup event ever.”


Tony Newman, Shiawassee County Drain Commissioner added, “We’re thrilled with the number of volunteers who gave their time to help preserve and protect our greatest ecological asset, the Shiawassee River.”  Both Newman and Johnson have both worked with this effort for the majority of the 24 years it has been held.  Phil Hathaway, a Friends’ volunteer and past Community Development Director for the City of Owosso, who has also been responsible for the development/upkeep of several canoe/kayak launches on the river, was also a key figure in the success of this year’s event.

Volunteer cleanup crews were sent to multiple locations on the river between Geeck Road Park and Henderson Park, picking up trash from over 10 miles of the river.

Teresa Sherman, who organized the cleanup in Vernon (where a canoe/kayak launch and associated lockers were recently installed), participated in her third cleanup this year. 

“After three years, we’re still getting a great turnout at Vernon for this event,” said Sherman.  “We truly appreciate everyone who braved the high waters and helped to make our section of the river visibly cleaner.  We always have a great time!”

In addition to the many volunteers who banded together as individuals for the event, a number of groups and businesses also joined in.

Oster Manufacturing and J & S Tire and Service, both in Owosso, generously paid their employees for the day to participate – as well as donated as event sponsors.

“We have been associated with this event for many years now,” said Steve Gill, owner of J & S.  “It’s an effort we feel privileged to be a part of.  My employees look forward to it every year!  I ask that others in the community join us next year to support the Friends and the SCHD in this and other endeavors to keep our river clean.”

Other business sponsors included Hankerd’s Sportswear, VMD & Associates, Matador’s Pizza and Takeout, Foster Coffee Co., Mancino’s, Cheff’s Canoe Rental, and Waste Management.  The Friends and SCHD also received a grant in the amount of $2,000 from the Great Lakes Commission to support the event.

Lorraine Austin, Executive Director of the Friends, added “It truly takes a village to make this event come to fruition every year.  Families, businesses, students, elected officials, and others came together in record numbers – all with one thing in mind.  To clean the river (and have some fun while doing it).  It’s something we can all support.  We are more than thankful to everyone for their hard work.”

After the cleanup was over, participants gathered at the Don and Metta Mitchell Amphitheater in downtown Owosso to obtain a free t-shirt, grab some lunch (courtesy of Mancino’s), and swap stories.  Some of the more unique items found this year included a TV, bicycle, deer skull, trolling motor, Captain America shield, realtor sign, break up note, and more.  The cleanup t-shirts will most likely be seen all around this summer (and beyond).  When you see someone sporting one, please thank them for their participation as river stewards.

The 25th (silver anniversary) river cleanup will be held on Saturday, July 25, 2020. 

For more information, about upcoming Friends’ and SCHD events, visit their websites (www.shiawasseeriver.org & http://health.shiawassee.net and/or follow each on Facebook.

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