Bakerstown-based Adopt-A-Highway team remain vigilant

Friday, July 19, 2019 | 12:01 AM


Bob Joyce has seen people come and go in his 20 years as a member of the PennDOT Adopt-A-Highway group at the First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown.

“We probably have had more than 100 volunteers over the years,” said Joyce, 64, of Richland, the group coordinator for 15 years. “We have a solid core of six regular people, with a few (others) scattered in from time to time.

“Some people come once and are never seen again. It is quite a workout.”

Marking its 30th year, the Adopt-A-Highway program consists of volunteers who beautify roadsides two miles at a time. Volunteers sign a two-year agreement to pick up litter at least two times a year.

In return, PennDOT posts recognition signs along the adopted highway giving the volunteer or the group full credit for their efforts.

PennDOT spokeswoman Jan Huzvar said First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown joined the program in July 1992, and is one of the most active participants in District 11, which encompasses Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties. The group takes care of both sides of a divided roadway on Route 8.

Joyce said it seems there was more litter years ago, but the group always gets 15-20 bags each time.

Among items found have been money, which Joyce said is put in the church collection plate, tools and CDs. Last spring, he retrieved a whole front plastic bumper and grill from a truck that was involved in an accident.

Don Martin, of Penn Township, Butler County, has participated since the beginning.

Martin said he enjoys the fellowship, getting a little exercise and doing something for the community.

“I probably do it more to be with the guys than pick up trash,” Martin said.

Martin said he has noticed in the last 10 or 15 years there are more water bottles than beer cans. Other items he has seen are commemorative Steelers cans and credit cards.

Among other longtime groups is the Jarvie family, which joined the program in September 1991 and takes care of a Route 28 interchange.

Margaret Jarvie, of Springdale, said she recruits her three children and five grandchildren, as well as friends, to help.

Jarvie said there is less litter. Still, she gets a little disgruntled and asks, “Why do they throw that on the ground?”

She said she finds a lot of Styrofoam containers and straws from soft drinks, as well as medicine bottles.

She carries in her car the vest and bags PennDOT provides, if things need to be cleaned between pick-ups.

District 11 executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni applauded the volunteers.

“Because of the help of our participants, we are able to direct more money to maintaining and improving our transportation network, which otherwise would have been spent on removing litter from our roadways,” Moon-Sirianni said. “Although these folks do a tremendous job, there remains a lot of opportunity for other folks to get involved.”