Roadside Enhancement Coach Steps Up Efforts to Keep Roads Clean

by Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Adopt-a-Highway and Adopt-a-Road programs have been around for years. Now, a brand new "Keep Iowa Beautiful" pilot project aims to rejuvenate them by getting more people involved.

Several organizations are working together to make it happen, but one Cedar Rapids man is taking center stage.

"I'm the Roadside Enhancement Coach, and I've never coached anything before and roadsides will be a challenge," Doug Elam said.

He has been selected to run the pilot project. The coach knows exactly what he has to do.

"You just have to ask," Elam said. "Volunteerism has changed over the years. It used to be, you put up a flier and people would come out. Now, you have to go and intentionally ask them to do something. '

Elam already got his first group to sign up. The folks at Wickiup Hill Learning Center just decided to adopt Feather Ridge Road.

"I knew everything about the program and he says, 'well, have you guys adopted a road?' and I said 'no'. It just, it dawned on me, and I was like 'wow, why haven't we?'" Wickiup Hill Lead Naturalist Jenny Corbett said.

The group knows it has a lot of work to do, especially with litter lining area roadways from cans to fast food wrappers and even a basketball. Wickiup Hill's Lead Naturalist said all of this could end up in ditches that often act as natural habitat for animals.

"It does affect the wildlife – like red wrappers and things," Corbett said. "There are animals that are naturally attracted to different colors thinking that they are a food source."

Elam officially starts his coaching gig tomorrow (Wednesday). He'll travel through 12 counties to get people involved.

"Show the community -- I mean, we are going to put up signs that say 'I have ownership in my community and my street' by having an adopt-a-road sign," Elam said.

The pilot project runs for three months.

Elam said the project is funded by a federal grant and some city and county funding. He hopes to have at least 33 more individuals, businesses and organizations signed up by the end of the project.

If you'd like to sign up, you can call one of these numbers to get more information:

Iowa DOT Adopt-a-Highway 1-800-262-5144
Linn County Adopt-a-Road, Rob Roman, 319-892-6424
Cedar Rapids Adopt-a-Road, Vince Snyder, 319-286-5898

Elam said volunteers who Adopt-a-Highway/Road pick up litter on a stretch of road that's about two miles long a couple times a year. The group will get a sign posted on the road that has been adopted.
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