It’s an annual event in Perry County and eastern Kentucky, with those recognizable garbage bags on the side of the road every few feet, filled with roadside litter. Volunteers walk the roadsides with bags in hand, stopping every few inches to pick up an old cup or bag carelessly discarded. It’s something here in Perry County people seem to tale a lot of pride in, and for good reason.
For 10 years now the Personable Responsibility In A Desirable Environment (more commonly known as PRIDE) program has been active in Perry County, and each year it seems to be a bigger and better event as volunteers spring from a new community each year.
According to Rosa Couch, Perry County's PRIDE Coordinator, 400 tons of garbage were collected during this year's cleanup, with an additional 100 tons in scrap metal and five tractor-trailer loads of tires. Couch noted that 77 roll offs, or 30 yard long containers, were pulled out of the county and taken to a landfill. Of that scrap metal, Couch noted that approximately 100 old, abandoned vehicles were collected as well. While the amount of waste collected is impressive, the week long event nearly didn't happen due to inclement weather.
As volunteers spread out on the morning of Sunday, April 15, the rains has just halted, but the creeks and streams were still swelling. Some areas of the county were under water. "We didn't know if we would be able to pull it off," Couch said. But by the end of the weekend, the skies had cleared and the volunteers went to work.
In the Buckhorn/Squabble Creek area of the county, volunteers had a goal of removing one quarter of a million pounds of garbage and old vehicles from the area. "They brought almost 50 tons of trash out," Couch commented. And hauls like these are not missed by the end of the day. "It's amazing, you can see the difference," she said.
Members of the Abner family in Squabble Creek were greatly responsible for the clean-up in Buckhorn, Couch said, but all volunteers are greatly appreciated. While many of the volunteers were private individuals, some were also elected officials. "That Fiscal Court is the hardest working set of elected officials I have ever seen," Couch said, noting that all three of the county' magistrates and the county judge were volunteering their time to help clean up the county.
Judge Executive Denny Ray Noble and District 2 Magistrate Bubby Combs were both present at the Buckhorn Lake Cleanup, while during the week-long PRIDE cleanup Noble donated his time and personal vehicles in clearing out old cars from the Squabble Creek area. Combs could be seen in Upper Second Creek during the week-long cleanup, while District 1 Magistrate Jimmy Darrell Neace manned his usual post at the Lost Mountain dump site, while District 3 Magistrate Earl Brashear was in both Puncheon Camp and Brownsfork during the week. Other elected officials, such as Commonwealth's Attorney Teresa Reed and Buckhorn Mayor Veda Wooton, also participated in the Buckhorn Lake Cleanup.