MASSENA — Arconic employees stepped away from the plant and fanned out on County Route 42 Monday morning as part of the company’s Adopt-A-Highway cleanup efforts.
Wearing reflective vests and hard hats and working under a gray, drizzly sky, they spent four hours tackling an area that stretched a little more than a mile from the front of the plant to Dennison Road, picking up garbage and anything else that had been thrown to the side of the road since the last cleanup in April 2021.
“Just about anything and everything,” Tim Long said. “I haven’t see any kind of drug paraphernalia, which is surprising.”
He did find some oddities — a plastic bag containing razors and batteries, and several mini liquor bottles like the kind found on airlines.
Joe Sawyer and Sanford Newvine were picking up on another stretch of the road. They said their biggest haul was cups from local fast food restaurants.
Closer to Dennison Road, Tammy Lakins and Susan Hauer found some items they were going to hang on to.
“We’re finding some really cool letters” from 1962, as well as Christmas cards and even an invitation to a baby shower, Ms. Hauer said.
“It’s kind of like a treasure hunt,” Ms. Lakins said.
They surmised the collectibles may have blown out of a vehicle at some point and landed on County Route 42, never to be seen again until Monday.
Plant manager Eowyn Doud said the day began with a safety briefing before moving out to the cleanup. Arconic officials had coordinated with St. Lawrence County officials to become the official caretakers of the 1.1-mile stretch of the road near the plant. But, she said, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted previous efforts.
“We wanted to start it in 2020 and because of COVID they said, ‘No, we’re not doing any Adopt-A-Highway,’” she said.
Ms. Doud said it’s a change of pace for the employees, who had an opportunity to spend time outside instead of inside despite the gloomy weather
She said, like Monday’s effort, the one in 2021 yielded some strange items.
“There’s always somebody that finds like half a bumper. I found a backpack of super hero figures. That was really far off the road, too. It wasn’t just like somebody threw it. It was a ways out there, like maybe some animal grabbed it,” she said.
She said they ended up with 43 30-gallon bags of garbage during the 2021 effort.
Not everything should be picked up, Ms. Doud said. If the employees came across what looked like it might be some materials for a methamphetamine lab, they’re told to contact the police and let them investigate.
Bag after bag was filled on Monday with a variety of trash along the well-traveled roadway.
“It’s a dumping ground for a lot of stuff,” she said.
Then, the bags were left alongside the road temporarily once the cleanup was complete.
“We just leave them alongside the road and the transportation department comes and picks them all up at the end of the day,” Ms. Doud said.
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