2023 Musings from the Ditches - 7/3/23
Well fear not, the South Dakota D.O.T. is not giving away any orange litter bags to anyone who can’t prove they clean their ditches. And…Funny story…Because we take “OUR” garbage with us when we are done, a trash pickup slip is not generated with the D.O.T.,…So...there is no official record that we cleaned our ditches. It turns out the folks at our Dept. of Transportation Sioux Falls office were more than happy to be convinced that I was telling the truth. As with most things South Dakota, after a short visit it was discovered that the staff person I was working with used to be an employee of Kris and Brad Haase. When she found out I knew Brad and Kris, I was golden and a three year supply of bags appeared! A big Club “Thank You” to all the folks working out of our Sioux Falls and Canton offices who take such good care of the roads we drive on.
One of the worst kept secrets in our Club is that Highway Cleanup is not just about doing a civic good deed that incidentally beautifies 2 miles of the thousands of miles of road we drive our sports cars on. Highway Cleanup is also an adventure, making a new friend, getting to know a friend better, getting some exercise, discovering curious treasures among the trash, and so much more.
The Spring 2023 cleanup held on April 29th started in the same way they all have for over 30 years. At 9:15 members of the Sioux Falls Corvette Club convened in the parking lot of Dareo’s Pizza on South Minnesota Avenue. Waivers were signed, safety vests donned, and North and South teams formed. Three vehicles departed at 9:30 and transported the ten Club members to our two mile stretch of highway beginning just a mile south of the Harrisburg corner on South Minnesota Avenue / Hwy 115. Four teams entered the four ditches and started working their way south one mile. Officially, we picked up trash and returned to Dareo’s for pizza and refreshments. Report complete.
What follows is for those readers who like to know what was found in addition to the normal litter. Down in the South section during last Fall’s cleanup there was a trenching operation going on. When our team arrived this Spring they discovered that several bent and rusted fence posts had been left behind along with three of those heavy rubberized weights that hold down orange traffic cones. In the southeast ditch, Cheri recovered a “used” condom that someone placed back in its packaging before it was discarded. You have to wonder what the story was there. Meanwhile, up in the northeast ditch, Larry, Patti, and Joe found a LARGE colony of garter snakes. That will keep you on your toes and alert for the rest of the mile. Across the road in the northwest ditch Roger presented a curious sight as he walked his first full mile since his stroke last year. With a cane in one hand and a grabber tool in the other he picked up litter and deposited it in Harold’s or Dusty’s trash bag. Roger also found this Spring’s “keeper” when he picked up a one dollar bill with that grabber of his.
As I mentioned above, we take our trash with us and deposit it in the dumpsters at C&R Supply. This saves the State the time and money associated with collecting it. Thank you C&R Supply for your ongoing support of our Club’s Adopt-A-Highway commitment. For the record, those bent and rusted fence posts went into the steel recycling dumpster and those weights for the traffic cones are now part of the Sioux Falls Street Department’s inventory.
If you would like to participate in one of our mile walks in the ditch, the next opportunity will be our Fall Highway Cleanup. As long as non-biodegradable items keep appearing in OUR ditches, there will be an opportunity to participate. Thanks to the following members that walked a mile this Spring: Kathy and Dusty Miller, Patti and Joe Bruggeman, Cheri Beyer, Larry Mortensen, Joyce and Harold Van Der Wilt, and Lola and Roger Coon.
I recently lost a dear friend and frequent volunteer in our ditch cleaning efforts. Gail Roling always chose the southwest ditch and invariably brought carrots or other treats to the horses that lived alongside. Gail brought me hugs. Her sparkle will be greatly missed by many.