Annual lake cleanup ‘a big success’

Matthew Strother News editor

September 30, 2013

Saturday’s West Point Lake cleanup effort drew more than 100 volunteers for the day.

Army Corps of Engineers ranger Rocky Millenbine said the event brought about 125 to 150 people Saturday morning to clean along the shorelines from Holiday Campground to the railroad tracks near Roanoke Road.

“This a great community event,” Millenbine said. “West Point Lake his here for the public and this is an excellent example of how people can come together to make sure it remains as natural as it can possibly be.”

Volunteers from LaGrange College, Point University, LaGrange Sierra Club, Troup and LaGrange high schools, Gardner Newman Middle School, girl scouts, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes at Pineland and other non-profits like the West Point Lake Coalition and Chattahoochee River Keeper came out for the event.

Wendy’s on Lafayette Parkway and Coca-Cola were major sponsors of the event and provided meals and drinks to volunteers, who gathered at Pyne Road Park.

LaGrange College earlier in the month also sent 285 volunteers to clean. Next month, Point University will send 130 volunteers, Millenbine said. That brings the total participation up to about 600 people.

“All in all, it’s been a big success,” he said. “The important thing is that West Point Lake is cleaner today than it was yesterday.”

Derrick Buckner, house parent at the Sheriffs’ Youth Homes at Pineland, was out with a group of residents to clean up. He said it’s their first time participating in the long-running cleanup effort.

“We want to give back to the community that has been so kind to us and I think it’s a good cause,” he said. “They (the corps) host us for some of our events, and this was a way to say thank you.”

Christie Nestor, a geocacher and local Girl Scouts membership specialist, has been volunteering to clean for about 10 years and this year brought Girl Scout troupe 12208. She said the event provides and important community service and is something important for the scouts to be involved with.

The event is important “because it’s our natural resources and we need to keep them,” Nestor said.

Stephen Johnson, a member of the Sierra Club, said the lake belongs to everyone and if people trash it, they need to help clean it up. He felt the event was important toward the club’s focus on awareness of environmental issues.

This is the first year the event has coincided with National Public Lands Day, the last Saturday in September, which is “the biggest volunteer event in the federal government,” Millenbine said. The event is again scheduled to be on National Public Lands Day next year, so Millenbine said those planning to attend should “mark your calendars now.”