Senior Staff Writer
Back yard cook-outs are just part of the fun during holidays, but they are an American tradition on Independence Day and other occasions, and so it was at Henry Horton State Park last weekend.
Marshall County dairy farmer Tony White brought his big propane grill to the picnic tables near the Duck River where County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett worked side-by-side with other volunteers to remove trash from the scenic river.
"We've got a lot of new faces this time," Liggett said of the volunteers, "and we've got a lot of people we appreciate because they came back."
White and others cooked lunch for nearly 50 volunteers including John Barron, 54, of Old Columbia Road who's volunteered each of the six years that the river cleanup has been conducted.
"I return because I want the county to stay clean and I want the place where the water comes from to stay clean," said Barron, who in no way resembles Adam Sandler in "The Waterboy," although he says he enjoys "high quality H-2-O."
His wife, Tammie, helped remove refuse from the river.
"We found a dead polecat in a bag that we had to pick up," she said. "That was the most disgusting thing."
Ben Haynes lives east of Chapel Hill and found tires, chairs, cans, bottles and discarded bait. Landon Pollock of Farmington found a box that's used to sand wood and metal.
"It was hard to steer the boat because of all the tires" in the river, Pollock said, reporting "a lot of sandbars near Horton Haven."
One tractor tire was approximately three feet deep in mud, but it was removed, he said.
Since the river cleanup on June 16 was the sixth annual event, volunteers had hoped that their job would be easier.
The volume of rubbish they found "wasn't down like we hoped it would be," the county mayor said.
"We probably picked up more tires than before," Liggett said.
Joe Wiles of Berlin was optimistic.
"It's getting cleaner and cleaner," Wiles said.
Liggett laughed, remembering the tremendous volume of rubbish removed during the first river cleanup.