Highway adopters beautify county | TheUnion.com

Highway adopters beautify county

John HartMillie and Leo Raiche (left) and Bob and Pinky Martin clean up litter on the two-mile stretch of Highway 20 they've adopted in Penn Valley.
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“Are you the Pinky Martin who does litter pickup?” people have asked the Lake Wildwood woman, who is not so sure she likes having the reputation as trash collector. Nevertheless, Martin and her husband, Bob, are happy to help keep Nevada County clean.

As participants in Caltrans’ Adopt-A-Highway program, once a month the Martins clean a two-mile section of Highway 20 just as it descends into Penn Valley.

“A couple of others have heard about it and have asked to help,” says Pinky, 71, acknowledging the efforts of Al Walberg and Leo and Millie Raiche.

New signs marking their assigned area read: Citizens Who Care.

Bob figures it takes about 45 minutes per half mile, per person, or 11/2 to two hours to clean their assigned section.

The Martins moved to Penn Valley less than a year ago from San Jose, where they also participated in Adopt-A-Highway. Their 14-member group cleaned a four-mile stretch of expressway, which had two shoulders and two mediums.

“It was 14 walking miles,” said Bob, 69, a retired programming manager for IBM.

As they prepared to relocate to Penn Valley, they decided to continue their Adopt-A-Highway involvement in their new community, noting that the Highway 20 spot was available. “We applied for that before we even moved up here,” said Bob.

Although the Martins have not found any items of particular interest on Highway 20 – just the usual fast-food wrappers, aluminum cans and such – their group discovered some interesting things while picking up trash in San Jose, such as money, an endorsed $650 check, even a counterfeit $20 bill.

Mike Monaghan of Caltrans praised the Martins and other Adopt-A-Highway volunteers.

“We greatly appreciate these people who take their own time to pick up litter and to beautify,” he said.

Presently, 10 groups are participating in the program in Nevada County, covering an area from Harmony Ridge to the Wolf Road/Combie Road interchange, and down Highway 20 to Pleasant Valley Road in Penn Valley.

“There are plenty of empty sections left to adopt,” said Monaghan, adding that no one under age 16 may work on the highway.

Caltrans furnishes the hats, bags, pickers, safety glasses and a safety orientation.

by Marianne McKnight

Special to The Union

To find out about Adopt-A-Highway, call Mike Monaghan at 275-6703 or check out adopt-a-highway.dot.ca.gov/.

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