Sweep Steady: the 7th Annual Rock River Sweep

By Loren Floto, Frank Schier & Steve Rypkema

The 7th Annual Rock River Sweep has come and gone, and with it another successful year of cleaning up the region’s main waterway.

Along with the Screw City Beer Fest and Greek Fest, the Saturday morning rain, plus the unavailability of several large groups that help the Roscoe to Bryon Sweep held down the attendance of volunteers to 27 in Rockford – but they were a magnificent 27.

Mary Smith and the Native American Council’s Juanita and Mac MacVenn did extra duty contributing prizes and setting up for the awards ceremony. A tremendous amount of prizes were provided by the Rockford Park District and the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Thanks to all who contributed prizes; you rewarded good people for doing good and made them very happy.

Even though the majority of the Ski Broncs went to Wisconsin Rapids for the World Ski Show Tournament, the Andersons and Jakubiens cleaned from Latham to Riverside Bridge.

Steve Lucas of Rock River Enterprises and Barge, LLC even had his eye on a picnic table to be pulled out this week.

Continuing the battle below the Fordam Dam, Pete Riggs and Dale Kallebach made a strong dent in the Kent Creek trash level, but that area also needs to be worked on a regular basis.

Mandy and Ryan Raether did special duty at Herb Wuerful’s slough just north of Byron at Meridian Road. That area also needs to be worked more often.

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A significant move was made by the local sweep to continue a cleanup of the Blackhawk Island shoreline. Rocktown Adventure’s Kevin Versino lead his crew to picked up three TVs and about 12 bags of garbage. For the second year, the Muscleman family and friends allowed their property on the island to be an access point. If you drive the road around the island, the road and the properties are very clean. The strainers on the shoreline are the problem.

Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana amazingly answered a last minute call and provided three community-service inmates, two deputy sheriffs, Bob Redman and Russel Kirby, complete with van and trailer. They worked the northern tip of the island, and Kirby said he’d continue to work the shoreline in the future. They were our first rain warriors, More to do next year.

Up in Rockton, volunteers collected a ton-and-a-half of trash, including 25 tires; patio furniture sets; rolls of carpet; steel pipes; and an 8-foot wide canopy with the frame still attached.

“Nothing could stop our intrepid volunteers,” said the Rockton organizers. “People got wet and muddy. It was all part of the fun experience of working together to clean up our river.”

Further downstream in Oregon, Mayor Ken Williams; City Councilman Terry Schuster; Grant Afflerbaugh and Rick O’Neil from the IDNR; the Oregon and Batavia Boy Scouts and the Oregon High School National Honor Society showed up to help clean the Rock. “The Rock River Sweep Organization would also like to thank the Oregon Area sponsors, because without your generosity and help, we could never make this possible,” said the organizers in Ogle County.

In the meantime, if you see litter, go after it. If you see litterers, call them in. Every Fall, the folks from Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful and The Great American Cleanup cannot believe the reoccurring trash they pick up.

This is how the law reads: “Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 415, §105/1 et seq.First conviction: class B misdemeanor, fine up to $1,500. Second conviction: class A misdemeanor, fine up to $1,500. Subsequent convictions: class 4 felony, fine of $25,000 and imprisonment between one and three years (ch. 415, §5/5-8-1). If convicted of littering on a public highway, the violator may, in addition to other penalties, be required to maintain litter control for 30 days over a portion of that highway.”

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