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Taking out the trash; group helps clean up local creek

Volunteers endure cold temperatures, frigid water to remove household garbage from local landscape

Wading into murky waters of a litter-filled creek, Nicole Deafenbaugh poked a sharpened stick into a piece of sodden paper. She grimaced as she placed the debris into a trash bag, then waded a bit deeper towards some more floating garbage.

            Deafenbaugh and others in the Georgia Southern University "Edge" class volunteered their time Friday to clean up a Bulloch County creek near Portal on Two Chop Road that someone filled with household trash.

            They volunteered to help through the GSU Office of Student Leadership and Volunteer Services.

            The clean-up was part of an effort by Keep Bulloch Beautiful members, including Bulloch County Probate Judge Lee Deloach, who discovered the litter in the creek near his home last month.

            Deloach notified Bulloch County Code Enforcement officer Gary Lanier, who picked up some of the trash and discovered the name of a person responsible.

            That person, whom Lanier did not identify, received a citation and faces court in March, he said.

            Friday, he and volunteers were going through more garbage to see whether they could find the names of additional offenders.

            Both he and DeLoach worked to dig trash from ditches and pulled litter from roadside brambles, working alongside the volunteers from Keep Bulloch Beautiful and the GSU class.

            The "Edge" class is an "introduction to leadership," said teacher Theresa Kresel. The volunteers didn't get extra credit for helping clear the creek and roadside, but did so as "part of the learning experience."

            But Deafenbaugh and pal Judy O'Batunde may deserve that extra credit after all. Donning hip waders, the girls braved icy water and unknown creatures as they plowed through thick underbrush to the water's edge, then plunged in to retrieve the unsightly trash floating in the small creek.

            The water rose higher than expected, preventing them from being able to reach some of the debris. "If it wasn't for the rain we had last night the water wouldn't be so high," Lanier said.

            Still, Deafenbaugh and O'Batunde filled bags with soggy, dirty diapers, beer cans, old papers and boxes, and other unidentifiable trash while standing in the cold water.

            "What kind of animals are in here?" O'Batunde asked. "I don't want to stand on a beaver dam."

            In spite of the high water preventing them from a total clean-up Friday, the group gathered an amazing array of debris including an old television set and tires.

            "I think it's real good," Lanier said of  their efforts. "If we had more people like them, we wouldn't have this mess."

            KBB intern Chris Short slogged through red clay on Two Chop Road as he pulled garbage from the ditches.

            The volunteers "are doing this for a good cause," he said. "The more help, the better."

            According to KBB Executive Director Brooke Brandenburg, there were between 15 to 20 volunteers expected to help with the clean-up throughout the afternoon.

            Brandenburg attended a training workshop Friday where 17 Bulloch residents were trained in litter cleanup and enforcing litter laws, she said.

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