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Mahoning River gets cleanup

Friends effort removes tires

HILLSVILLE, Pa. — The Friends of the Mahoning River spent part of last weekend removing old tires from the Mahoning River in Pennsylvania.

The cleanup focused on the section of river between the Beyond Corporation LLC Boat Access Area in Hillsville and the Mckinney-Russell Boat Access Area near Covert Road.

The cleanup saw more than 20 volunteers in canoes, kayaks, fishing boats — and even a whitewater raft — head out onto the water in search of tires. Almost 70 tires were collected from the shores and shallow areas of the river.

Along with the tires, volunteers picked up a lot of empty bottles, vinyl lawn chairs, plastic barrels and other trash.

The Friends applied to Bridgestone Americas Inc. for assistance with the tires. Bridgestone approved the request and will cover the pickup and recycling.

Soils Inc., which sits on the river near Edinburgh, granted access to the river, provided equipment and labor, and offered to be the final staging area for the tires to be picked up by Bridgestone.

Two members of Friends, restoration and preservation committee chair Tom Smith and his son Drew, both of Girard, paddled this section in early August. It was during this trip that more than 100 tires were seen at the bottom of the river. The water level was low, visibility high.

A call was put out to Doniele Russell, former member of the Lawrence County Planning Department who had spoken at a Friends meeting years ago. Russell quickly put the club in contact with the people needed to start organizing the event.

The club members said they are grateful to Megan Gahring with the Lawrence-Mercer Recycling / Solid Waste Department and Tri-County CleanWays for not only helping to organize the event but for being there all day with a truck to pick up tires and trash from multiple extraction points on the river.

Also helping with the cleanup were Jerry Zona-TCC and RSW, John Kulnis-RSW, Rebecca Shaffer with the Lawrence County Planning Department, and the Mahoning Township supervisors for clearing an access area along the river for extraction.

The partnership formed between the Friends and TCC will bear fruit in future endeavors. There are more tires and trash in the middle of the river that will be addressed in 2021.

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