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LHS students clean up local highway litter

| May 10, 2006 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

Libby High School sophomore Christina Anderson-Mason didn't get in trouble for skipping biology and gym class one day last week.

After all, she had permission from assistant principal Jim Germany.

Anderson-Mason was amongst the school's 525 students who spent the afternoon picking up garbage along Libby's roadways, painting and gardening. It's something the students in ninth through 12th grades have done annually for 4 years.

"It's a fun day," said Anderson-Mason. "We need to give back to the community."

Students picked up three to four tons of garbage along roughly 12 miles of roads, said Van Swearingen, field supervisor for Montana Department of Transportation in Libby.

"That actually covers (24 miles) if multiplied by two because it was both sides of the road. They probably cleaned 25 to 30 acres," Swearingen said. "That's a lot of negligence."

The cleanup also is a big help to the highway department.

"The litter they picked up has accumulated within the last seven months," Swearingen said. "As far as the department and myself, we greatly appreciate this. It cuts down on our work when we have to maintain roadsides. It makes it difficult to have all this trash and mow. It's a great service."

A one-ton truck was filled six times to get rid of the garbage, he said.

To get started, students boarded five buses and were dropped off at different locations along U.S. Highway 2 from two miles west of Libby through the downtown and east to Golf Course Road. They also picked up garbage along Pipe Creek, River and Champion Haul roads and Bowen and Shaughnessy hills.

Some students also helped clean the area around the Flower Creek stream side near Rosauers and put down new mulch.

Some, like Anderson-Mason, painted the front of the high school.

"We painted it brown and a 'rosish' trim," she said. "It was fun doing that."

The students who painted belong to the G.R.E.A.T. committee, which means Graduation, Responsibility, Enthusiasm, Attitude and Try.

"That's our motto for school improvement," Germany said.

The highway department needs volunteers to adopt 2-mile sections for cleanup. Swearingen can be reached at 293-7921.