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MOUNT VERNON — More than 300 volunteers walked, canoed and kayaked the Kokosing River Saturday, from Riverside Park in the city to the Coshocton County line, picking up all kinds of trash and other debris that had accumulated in the river.
One of the first things found in the river was a purse. It had identification in it and was turned over to police for return to its owner.
Even a kitchen sink was hauled out of the river.
One volunteer came from another scenic river to help with the Kokosing cleanup. Former Ohio Gov. Robert Taft and his wife, Hope, who live along the Little Miami River showed up.
“I was Secretary of State when the Kokosing became a state scenic river 20 years ago,” he said. “This is one of the prettiest parts of the state and I love the bike path from here to Danville (Kokosing Gap Trail). People here are taking great care of the river, making sure it’s clean for swimming, fishing and canoeing.”
Taft’s wife, Hope, is a big supporter of clean rivers.
Knox County Litter Control Director Randy Canterbury, who coordinated the event, said the “turnout was huge, bigger than last year, and I won’t have a final count until Monday or so.”
He said the river was also not as bad as last year, with less items like tires abandoned in the river. But it will still take a day or two to figure about how much stuff was collected, as some groups, especially in the lower part of the river, were still out working in the afternoon and trucks were still out gathering debris that had been collected.
Regional Scenic Rivers Manager Heather Doherty said it was “awesome how many organizations in the community come out for this. It shows how much the community cares about the river.”
Not everyone gathered at the CA&C Depot to kick off the day. Other groups, such as 90 Kenyon student volunteers, gathered at other locations along the river to begin their efforts.
In Mount Vernon, a group that included Trail Life USA, American Heritage Girls and Kokosing Valley Junior Anglers scoured the stretch from the Viaduct to the Mount Vernon Avenue bridge. Their haul included a metal smokestack and a waterlogged mattress that had to be drug out of the river by a Jeep.
Dry Creek was also included in the cleanup this year, with City Engineer Brian Ball heading a team of volunteer probationers from Mount Vernon Municipal Court tackling that stream.
Canterbury said local Domino’s owner Russ Metzger continued to be a major supporter of the effort, providing enough pizza to feed all the volunteers.