JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — Stacie Thompson said that as a local business owner and resident of the area, she feels it part of her responsibility to help make sure the community is one people can be proud of.

That’s why Thompson, broker and co-owner at Compass Realtors in Jeffersonville and Louisville, has taken the reins with Shaunna Graf, project director for the Ohio River Greenway, on organizing a program for businesses to adopt sections of the riverfront to make sure it stays clean and welcoming.

The idea is that each organization would take responsibility for cleaning up trash and debris in their particular section, all along the Greenway in Jeffersonville, Clarksville and New Albany.

“I think we’re always trying to get something that we can give back to the community,” Thompson said. “And with the growth that we’re seeing in Jeffersonville and all along the Greenway, I think it’s important to give business owners an opportunity to help in that.”

Thompson kicked off the program Monday with a cleanup in the section she’s pledged her resources to — between the Big Four Bridge to around Clark Street, along the riverfront. Although details are not finalized, Thompson said she will be talking with other business owners and community leaders in the coming weeks to get others on board.

“My hope for the program is that it takes off and relieves the city of some of these duties so they can focus their energies on the parks and other things and we can continue to improve the quality of the entire parks department and entire city,” Thompson said.

Thompson has been working closely with the Jeffersonville Parks Department and has talked with Clark County Solid Waste to possibly be able to help with a truck for recycling.

“It just kills me to think about putting all this stuff in the landfill,” she said.

Graf said that because of the design of this particular section, it’s not possible to put trash cans near the river. Due to the slope, they would either need to be tied to trees or right on the river where the rising waters would empty their contents regularly.

“You can’t even have hard metal trash cans down here,” Graf added. “So even people that tend to normally clean up after themselves, after carrying a bottle for a mile, they toss it off. Sad, but true.”

Graf said the way this works won’t look the same in every community; sections may need to be longer or shorter depending on width. Once completed, the Greenway will span seven-and-a-half miles. Right now, it’s about half complete.

But the idea will be the same — to maintain a particular spot in the community, ensuring it is clean and safe for all.

“Everybody struggles with how you can give back,” she said. “And is it really that big of a gift if you are coming to something to pick up trash? But it really does reflect wonderfully on the community.”

Crystal Pridgen, 17, went to the cleanup with her mother and brothers. The Louisville resident said it was important to her to help with projects like these.

“This is my home,” she said. “I like it clean; I don’t like it dirty.”

Crystal started at the river’s edge while her two younger brothers, Luke and Lance Hatfield, who are 9 and 4 years old, scoured the hill for stray papers or other debris.

Each had a metal trash-picker, gloves and were given T-shirts by Thompson.

Luke said he’d never been to something like this, but that it was “going good.” He wanted to clean the place up as well as teach others about it, “So people don’t litter,” he said. “Because if they do, plants and animals will get sick.”

Their mother, Christina Hatfield, said the family often comes to the Jeffersonville and Clarksville side of the river. To her, the cleanup is about being part of the greater community, and a responsibility that all area residents would benefit from by sharing.

“The government shouldn’t be the resource we turn to to take care of our area,” she said. “That’s something the community should be responsible for. Unfortunately, it’s not something that’s just a natural response to do that. And for me, it’s important for my kids to understand what service is like and learn to take care of the space that we use.”

Source: News and Tribune,

Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind.,

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by the News and Tribune.

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