80 volunteers suited up with orange vests and garbage bags and hit the streets leading in and out of Highlands for the Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center’s annual Plateau Pickup on Saturday. Since the tradition to spruce up the roadways began in 2008, the operation has grown to cover more ground, said Chamber Executive Director Bob Kieltyka.
“The Chamber has expanded the program beyond Hwy 64 West (The Gorge Road),” said Kieltyka. “It now encompasses all roads leading into and out of Highlands. The program received a significant boost when Mayor Pat Taylor and Town of Highlands extended support to the program. Additionally, groups from surrounding communities in Scaly Mountain and Franklin have participated in the pickup in their towns.”
Chamber Events and Visitor Center Coordinator Beverly Wichman said she thinks it’s the largest turnout she has seen and gave a big “thank you,” to all the volunteers who participated.
“Fabulous turnout, particularly since we had to postpone it from the previous Saturday,” she said referring to the original planned date for the Cleanup that was postponed because of inclement weather.
Approx. 175 bags of garbage were collected along the Plateau’s highways and unloaded into strategically placed dumpsters throughout Town, which were then taken to the transfer station. The U.S. Forest Service and Taylor, along with help from Steve Mehder, helped transport the garbage.
“Great group of 80 volunteers,” said Taylor. “The Highlands Plateau Cleanup is dependent on citizens willing to donate their time to this important spring event.”
He added the event would not be possible without the organization of Highlands Chamber.
“The Highlands Chamber of Commerce did a great job in coordinating this event,” said Taylor. “Beverly Wichman and Bob Kieltyka went the extra mile in making it a success.”
In addition to the 175 bags of garbage collected, Kieltyka said volunteer crews have picked up 1.1 tons along Hwy 64 over the previous month.
Pictured at the top of the article is the volunteer crew from Old Edwards Inn.