McLean County Road Department is gearing up for its Trash for Cash program in March, which will help keep county roads clean while also benefiting nonprofit groups.
Trash for Cash is funded by state grant money based on a county’s population and road mileage. This will be McLean’s third year participating in the program and the county has already received more than $19,000 to pick up trash.
Nonprofit groups are invited to clean up roads in the county and earn $100 per mile for both sides of the road.
“It is for non-profit groups … we haven’t had as much participation as we’d like … it can be a church group, an athletic team, anybody that’s non-profit,” said Shelley Wood, waste-coordinator for the McLean County Road Department.
Groups are provided with the necessary tools and safety gear by the road department but are expected to keep track of how many bags they have collected and how long it took them to clean up their designated area.
The road department also asks groups to report any suspicious or harmful materials to the road department rather than pick it up.
“We don’t want them to pick up anything that would be harmful like glass and certainly not anything that looks suspicious,” Wood said. “If they come upon something … we tell them to give us a call and then, of course, we would let the sheriff’s department know.”
Wood said most groups walk away with a generous check for their organization, usually ranging from $500 to $6,000 depending on how much the group is able to pick up. She said the department has yet to use all the money on road cleanup due to lack of participation.
“I would love for us to run out of money and for it to all go to keeping the roads clean, but we haven’t had that much participation to deplete our check for the grant, so that’s why we’re hoping to build the momentum and get our program going a little more,” she said.
Leftover money is used on purchasing new supplies and tools for road cleanup as well as marketing tools to encourage residents to keep the county clean, according to Wood.
“It’s not a glamorous thing to do,” she said. “It’s just ridiculous though, there are trash cans everywhere. You don’t have to toss it out. Just wait until you get somewhere and put it in the trash can.”
Wood said the program has received mostly positive feedback from groups that have participated in it so far.
“For the most part, the groups have been really happy,” she said. “It’s more beneficial for these groups. It helps them out, plus it helps the county out … for me it’s just a win-win.”