MARIETTA - Just like the familiar "Adopt a Highway" signs along America's roadways, those using Marietta's River Trail will now be seeing "adoption" signs there.
"Certainly we see the signs on the highway all the time. They're adopted to help maintain (areas) and keep the trash picked up," said Judy Lewis, a member of the Marietta Rowing and Cycling Club who has helped organize Friends of the River Trail.
The purpose of the Friends of the River Trail is to provide community volunteer services to clean, repair and improve the trail.
Three other community groups have also stepped forward to volunteer their assistance. WASCO Inc./Marietta Harbor, the Mid-Ohio Valley dragon boat organization, the MOV'n Dragons, and Friends of the Museums have also adopted a section of the River Trail.
WASCO has been unofficially maintaining the trail section along Post Street from the Putnam Street bridge to the Lafayette Hotel for some time, said Roger Kalter, member of the Marietta Rowing and Cycling Club and organizer of Friends of the River Trail.
"We'll do it while the Harbor is open," said Ron King, WASCO's Harbor coordinator.
The Marietta Harbor's maintenance of that section of the trail will be used as a training site for WASCO clients.
"It teaches (clients) how to maintain the trail, (and) they also get to intermingle with people passing on the trail," said King.
MOV'n Dragons has agreed to be responsible for the area from the historic pavilion on the Ohio River levee to the Lafayette Hotel. Friends of the Museums will tidy up the area between the Ohio River Museum and Sacra Via Park.
The First Unitarian Universalist Church's Green Sanctuary Committee and the Washington County Juvenile Center may be future trail adopters.
"We can't just let things go until they get to a desperate situation," said Kalter, adding that tasks like asphalt repair along the trail need specific equipment and skills that volunteers would not typically have access to.
Groups that volunteer as Friends of the River Trail are responsible for putting up their own "adoption" signs. Kalter has a prototype sign, and Lewis has created a basic set of guidelines for volunteer groups.
Kalter urged community groups to get in on the volunteer action.
"We have some incredible service organizations in the community," Kalter said. "If everybody does a little, then it doesn't hurt anybody a lot."
Kalter said he would like to see a total of 15 volunteer community groups join the Friends of the River Trail in maintaining the trail.
"We have room for another 10 groups. Fifteen groups would be wonderful," he said.
Groups interested in adopting a section of the River Trail can contact Kalter at (740) 373-1784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.