Many hands across Kamiah will leave highways, city cleaner

The city of Kamiah will look a little different next week thanks to a lot of helping hands from school children and adult volunteers.

As part of a combined Earth Day/Arbor Day activity, children from kindergarten through high school will trade traditional classrooms for the outdoors when they conduct a community-wide cleanup campaign that includes highways.

The volunteers will focus on several highways in cooperation with ITD’s Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program, explains Shane Niemela, AAH coordinator for the District 2 office in Lewiston. He is working with Sherie Sweaney, ITD’s Volunteer Services Coordinator to assist the school effort.

Cleanups are scheduled to begin between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday to avoid peak travel time in the city.

Organizers expect the cleanup to be done by about by 2:30 p.m., allowing enough time to celebrate their civic cleanup with refreshments at their respective schools. An alternative activity will be available for children unable to participate in the cleanup, Mercer said.

Older students will pick up litter and debris along the shoulders of U.S. 12 and state highways 64 and 162. Younger students will concentrate on areas near the school and athletic facility, explains Kamiah School Superintendent Fred Mercer. Some student groups also will clean a city park and an area near the swimming pool.

The community-wide project will involve more than 500 children, teachers and staff members and Kamiah citizens.

ITD will help the city of Kamiah and Simmons Sanitation in removing the litter collected. Nothing of this scale has been attempted before, the superintendent said.

Mercer, who retired from the school district after more than 30 years of service, recently returned as superintendent. He suggested the cleanup campaign to give children an opportunity to improve their community, to help develop a sense of responsibility and to build character, he said.

Kamiah schools participated in ITD’s Adopt-A-Highway in the past, and Mercer hopes to revive efforts to clean at least a two-mile segment of a state highway.

Planning for the major cleanup began in January.

Published 4-15-2011