Communications workers connect people, clean connectors

Adopt-A-HIghway groups help extend
ITD resources, save maintenance

ITD’s statewide Adopt-A-Highway program organizes the cleaning of Idaho roadsides by volunteer groups. Those groups “adopt” a specific stretch of highway – usually two miles or longer – and take responsibility for keeping it clean through regular litter patrols.
Approximately 1,100 Adopt-A-Highway groups (excluding Ada County inmate labor groups) conducted regular cleanups in 2011, logging a total of nearly 60,460 person-hours. Their efforts saved ITD an estimated $785,880. Through their volunteer activity, ITD is able to commit more resources to highway projects that improve travel conditions and safety.
The volunteer program supports ITD’s strategic plan by helping the department to operate more efficiently, improve safety, and create an environment that is conducive to commerce and economic development.

In 2009, the latest year for which data is readily available, groups collectively removed more than 1.5 million pounds of garbage from Idaho’s highways.

More than half of Idaho’s highways have been adopted, leaving ample opportunities for other groups and individuals to become involved.

Adopt-A-Highway groups and non-affiliated volunteers make a tremendous difference in the appearance of Idaho’s highways, said Sherie Sweaney, statewide Volunteer Services Coordinator. “It really is gratifying that so many people are committed to keeping our highways clean and attractive,” she said. “It also helps us get the most out of our available highway maintenance funds.”

For more information about adopting a stretch of highway or participating in volunteer services, contact Sweaney at (800) 443-2878.

ACT Communications has been connecting people of southeast Idaho for nearly 85 years, dating back to Grandma Jeannette Breslin who operated the first magneto switch from her home.

“She understood the value of service and spent any spare time helping those in need within the community,” explains Sharon Short, coordinator of ITD’s Adopt-A-Highway program in District 5.

With grandma as their inspiration, a fifth generation of successors takes the spirit of helping to a new arena – the shoulders of Idaho 38 near Malad. ACT Communications volunteers clean the highway between mileposts 7 and 9 twice a year, and in three outings since joining the Adopt-A-Highway program, they have gathered 945 pounds of refuse.

They put the company’s mantra into practice: Local People, Local Solutions are just a phone call away.”

The communications firm serves several rural communities, including Albion, Arco and Malad, and even smaller hamlets in between. Services include school functions, clubs and organizations. “ACT believes that being supportive of the communities and taking an interest in what is going on is a way of giving back,” Short explains.

She selected ACT Communications as the District 5 Adopt-A-Highway small group of the year. Members were honored Wednesday during the May meeting of the Idaho Transportation Board in Pocatello. For their efforts, group leaders received a certificate and a clock made from a sample Idaho license plate.

Company employees often take advantage of the cleanup campaigns to socialize afterward with hot dog roasts, barbecues or lunch at one of the area restaurants.

“They say this stretch of highway is one of the cleanest they have,” Short explains. “They don’t know if it is because it is the least traveled or people out there are really tidy.”

ACT Communications is the first active AAH group to join the highway beautification program from Malad.

Published 5-18-2012