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Rifle Church Celebrates 20 years of Highway Clean-up »
The Rifle Seventh-day Adventist Church recently celebrated 20 years of cleaning a two-mile section of I-70 with a luncheon provided for participants following the annual clean-up event. During the luncheon, Linda VanGaasbeek, coordinator for the Western Slope Adopt-A-Highway area, spoke of CDOT’s appreciation of the church’s long tradition of cleaning this portion of I-70 and answered questions from participants. A local newspaper, Rifle Citizen’s Telegram, reported on the event.
"It is not unusual for organizations to give 20 years of service. What is unusual is for one person to coordinate the effort for an organization for 20 years as Elaine Cloninger has," VanGaasbeek said.
Following her comments, Elaine shared the history of how the church got involved. The first year the clean-up was held, Courtney Peterson was the youngest participant at 10 years of age and Phylis Sisk was the oldest at 82. Other standouts were Blanca Garcia and her sons, Alex and Josiah, who helped all the years they were in school. Many of the participants became very attached to this two-mile section of highway; always wanting it to be kept clean.
About ten years ago, when the group was losing participants (mostly due to age), the Rifle Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Pathfinders started helping. This is a service activity in which Pathfinder leaders want their youth involved.
Elaine also showed examples of some of the changes CDOT has made to provide better safety to participants and highway workers who pick up the bags. These changes included wearing orange vests during the clean-up and using lighter bags that are easier to tie.
The Rifle Church will continue the tradition of cleaning the same two-mile section with Milton Rodas replacing Elaine as coordinator with CDOT. A new sign will be provided by CDOT to replace the faded 20-year-old westbound sign.
-- RMCNews with Elaine Cloninger; photo by Elaine Cloninger