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One week remains until the annual Renew Our Rivers cleanup on Lake Martin but John Thompson is already at work.

While Thompson and a small group of volunteers with the Lake Martin Resource Association (LMRA) are doing what they can to make next week’s cleanup on the shoreline of Lake Martin as easy as possible, tut took a break to clean up the scenic stop on Hillabee Creek at Highway 22 yet again.

“Alabama Power is going to close it this time,” Thompson said. “I talked to them Tuesday. They said, ‘If you are going to clean it, you better do it now.’”

Last August volunteers cleaned up the spot, a favorite of those who don’t have lakefront property. LMRA volunteer Barbara Sokol was one of the volunteers along with her children and grandchildren. It’s a spot familiar to the Alexander City resident.

“I brought my kids out here,” Sokol said. “When they got bigger we would float.”

Sokol said people take access to spots such as Hilliabee for granted.

“I was around when Russell started to develop,” Sokol said. “People were so worried they wouldn’t have access to the lake. The city and county made the different boats and other access points. This is a whole generation that hasn’t taken care of this. They just assume they will always have access but property owners can only take so much of this litter before they do something.

The area was spotless 14 months ago. This week the volunteers removed almost as much litter as before plus a couch and damaged boat. Thompson said the volunteers got to the litter just in time.

“I’m thinking [Alabama Power] will come in here in the next day or two and berm it off,” Thompson said. “It was bad. It was as bad as I have ever seen it.”

Thompson said it is shame a few people who are littering are messing up everybody’s access to the water.

“What a beautiful scenic area that is within easy reach, yet this is going on,” Thompson said. “I think there is a lot going on down here and people just aren’t picking up after themselves.”

Access to Hillabee Creek at Highway 22 may now be closed but if behaviors don’t change, access may change to other access points to the water.

“They might start blocking off more and more if people don’t clean up after themselves,” Thompson said. “It’s a shame. Property owners, in this case Alabama Power, are letting the public have access but the public is leaving behind all this trash.”

Through the original permitting of Lake Martin, Alabama Power owns much of the shoreline property surrounding Lake Martin. In the past, the company has allowed public access to the water but has started limiting or closing access when the public damages or doesn’t clean up the property.

After cleaning up Hillabee, the volunteers return to planning to remove litter from the shores of Lake Martin for the annual cleanup. For more than 10 years LMRA has been leading the charge on Lake Martin with Alabama Power’s Renew Our Rivers with an annual cleanup as the water is drawn down. The lower water provides easier access to litter and trash sometimes washed into the lake and against the nearly 800 miles of shoreline to be picked up.

Some litter pick up has already occurred such as at Hillabee Creek, but on Nov. 5 and 6 everyone will have a chance to help cleanup the area around Lake Martin.

LMRA, with the help of Alabama Power and others, will have supplies such as trash bags, trash pickers, water and snacks as supplies last at Wind Creek State Park Marina, the Kowaliga Public Boat Ramp, the Union Boat Ramp, Sigger's Grocery on Youngs Ferry Road, Big Fish Real Estate Group at Lake Martin on Highway 34 at Real Island. Bagged trash picked up Friday and Saturday from the lakeshore and roadsides near Lake Martin can be dropped at dumpsters at these locations too.

Children and families are invited to come out and help Saturday Nov. 6 at Wind Creek State Park.

The Tallapoosa County Commission is also sponsoring Throw Away Day by providing dumpsters across the county for the disposal of items too large to fit into garbage cans. Dumpsters will be at the Union Community Center and at Double Bridges on Highway 63 on Nov. 1-2. On Nov. 3-4 dumpsters will be on Young’s Ferry Road at Mullican Int. and at the Old Daviston School. On Nov 5-7 dumpsters will be at the Alexander City Annex at 395 Lee St. and on Nov. 8-9 dumpsters will be at the Reeltown Fire Department.

Certain items are not allowed to be disposed of in the dumpsters such as liquids including paint, paint thinner and pesticides; appliances with compressors such as air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers; tires; batteries; light bulbs; TVs; computers; propane tanks; and hazardous or medical waste.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.

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