Posted 5/17/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
Picking up the patch no longer requires the mobilization of a veritable army, but three dozen volunteers came out last week for Tioga's annual Pick Up The Patch event.
“There’s just not as much garbage,” said organizer Patricia Hove.
The small group of volunteers assembled Wednesday from area companies paled in comparison to the 213 volunteers that came out in 2014 to help clean up the ditches along N.D. 40.
That year they filled two roll-out dumpsters full of bags and an assortment of sometimes bizarre items you’d never expect to find discarded on the roadside.
This included bales of wire, tools, and the notorious “truck bombs,” which are bottles functioning as makeshift toilets by truckers who were apparently in too big of a hurry to pull over.
Vanessa Hove helped out with the Neset crew up on the northern part of N.D. 40. She said in past years they saw a lot of debris that had blown over from the Annabelle development in that area.
“There was a lot bigger pieces back then,” she said.
Patricia Hove recalled finding two running boards discarded in the ditches one year. Not only was there less trash this year, but the construction this past summer to widen the highway also cleared out the ditches of weeds. Volunteers didn’t have to dig through tangles of tumbleweeds to get to the trash.
“This doesn’t look bad at all,” said volunteer Rob Bryant who works for Continental Resources.
The first Pick Up The Patch happened during the rowdy days of the early boom and some drivers were speeding and tossing things at volunteers.
Police have become a regular presence at the events, and this year was no different. Chief Larry Maize and Police Administrator Jeff Spivey did patrols up and down the highway, and volunteer reserve officer Calvin Henson donated his time to make sure the volunteers working the highway were safe.
With the slower pace of the patch these days, a state trooper who happened to be in the area pulled over a driver, but the local police reported no incidents.
“Looks like he grabbed a speeder, but we had no problems,” Spivey said.
In past years, the crews often went back out after lunch to finish up what was left. This year, the barbeque provided by Nuverra marked the end of the event.