SAEGERTOWN — Morning jogs can be rough for anyone, let alone a 72-year-old who drags along a garbage bag to clean up a three-mile stretch of road.

You heard it right. Jim Marvin, a retired high school math teacher from Saegertown, has been collecting litter along the stretch of Route 198 from Saegertown to Interstate 79 several days a week, year-round, for 15 years.

“I run it three or four times a week. I take a bag with me,” he said. “I keep it pretty clean. I usually pick it up in small bags as I run. Some days, I do quite a bit of picking up.”

He runs at 6 a.m. in the summers and later during the school year.

Marvin and more than 1,000 other groups collect garbage along 2,426 miles of state roads in Crawford County under the Adopt-A-Highway program, according to Rick Weaver, who coordinates the program locally.

Weaver said activity among program volunteers began picking up a few weeks ago.

Most groups take responsibility for cleaning up two miles of road, while some do more than that, Weaver said. The state supplies bags, gloves and blaze orange vests for the volunteers and will pick up the bagged garbage left behind when crews are finished.

The group is also recognized by having their name on a blue sign at the beginning and end of the length adopted.

Weaver said about 6,000 miles, or about 40 percent, of all state roads in the northwest part of the state are adopted. The volunteers are indispensable to the beauty of the state’s roadsides, he said, and the program is money well-spent.

“The return investment is amazing. The groups pick up so much garbage,” he said. On average, each group picks up 30 to 40 bags of garbage each year, often more on the interstates.

Groups in the program choose which state roads to adopt. “That’s entirely up to them,” Weaver said. “It’s free game.” Typically, the state asks groups to commit for two years.

Though groups rarely come across anything more dangerous than pop cans, some volunteers have come across hypodermic needles, Weaver said. Groups are provided training on how to spot hazardous waste, from methamphetamine production to other dangerous materials.

When asked why he does it, Marvin says, “So it’s nice and clean, mainly.”

Gary Johnson can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at

Get involved

To adopt a highway, call the Crawford County PennDOT office at 332-6880.

Adopt-A-Highway By the Numbers

n 1,063 groups clean up about 2,426 miles of state roads in Crawford County.

n In the northwest part of the state, about 6,000 miles, or roughly 40 percent, of state roads have been adopted.

n The program was instituted in 1990.

n The cost to the state to pay for signs and initial supplies for each volunteer group runs about $400.

Meadville Tribune

Residents looking to get involved in cleanup efforts this Earth Day can get ideas online.

Cleanup projects planned for the day are posted at, and the site is currently registering projects that aren’t yet listed.

That’s the site the state has designated as the clearinghouse for “Let’s Pick It Up, PA!” which will be held in conjunction with April 22’s cleanup day and is expected to include hundreds of cleanup projects across the state. The state provides bags, gloves and vests to groups that have registered their projects, according to Rick Weaver, regional cleanup coordinator for the state Department of Transportation.

He said groups can register to clean up anywhere, including parks, along roads and elsewhere. Participants are asked to organize and conduct the local cleanups, promote the event and report results to include them in statewide and national cleanup totals, according to the Web site.

The only cleanup in Crawford County scheduled as of Wednesday is at Pymatuning State Park, at Shelter No. 4 and at the Linesville Spillway. It will be from 8:30 to 11 a.m. To help with that project, interested persons may call Linda Armstrong at (724) 932-3971 or e-mail her at

Many landfill owners have donated landfill space for trash collected during the cleanup. Registrants for an event will have access to a list of services and supplies available in their area.

In addition to registering on the Internet, groups can call (888) 548-8372.

Get involved

To check out or register a cleanup event, visit on the Internet or call (888) 548-8372 or (814) 332-6880.

React to this story:


This Week's Circulars