The annual Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-Off will be held Saturday, April 5, and volunteers will be out picking up litter near roadways across Somervell County.

The Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-Off is an annual event that encourages Texans across the state to join forces to clean up Texas roadsides. An estimated 827 million pieces of litter will collect on the state’s highways this year alone, which means the program need citizens’ help more than ever.

Volunteers throughout the state remove litter from roadsides, city parks, neighborhoods and waterways during this annual event. It is the single largest one-day clean-up event in the state where thousands of volunteers offer their time to keep Texas beautiful.

The Trash-Off is part of TxDOT’s litter prevention program, which includes Don’t Mess with Texas, Adopt-a-Highway, and a grassroots partnership with Keep Texas Beautiful.

In 2007 Texans were out in record number showing their Texas pride. Last year more than 55,580 volunteers collected more than three million pounds of litter.

Among the dedicated volunteer groups that plan to participate in this weekend’s clean-up event are: Brazos River Charter School, Comanche Peak Steam Electric Station, family members of the 5 Star Ranch, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center staff and volunteers, Girl Scout Troop 2326, Glen Rose FFA, Glen Rose Masonic Lodge #525 and Eastern Star #171, Somervell County 4-H, Somervell County Juvenile Services and the Jim Brady family.

“My goal has been to try and get each state road coming into Glen Rose adopted so that Somervell County will continue to do its part to Keep Texas Beautiful,” said Joanna Gentry, of TxDOT’s Hood and Somervell counties’ maintenance department. “Our volunteers do a wonderful job not only picking up the litter but also by promoting and educating the public about litter on the roads.”

Gentry says the Keep Texas Beautiful initiative has several youth groups, civic organizations and individuals who participate. “We appreciate each of them and always encourage others to participate in the Adopt-a-Highway program. We have other roads that can be adopted and need groups to adopt roadways year-round.”

She said that many of the volunteers, especially the youth, get excited about this annual event. “It’s not easy picking up all this trash that people so carelessly throw out, but those who volunteer have a great time.”

“We provide the trash bags and the safety vests. They call us ahead of time and we’ll pick up the bags. We’ll also put a name on the signs where the two-mile stretch ends and beings,” said Gentry. “They’ll usually sign an agreement to adopt a highway for two years and ask them to pick up trash four to six times per year.”

One section of US Hwy. 67 East, a two-mile stretch from State Hwy. 144 towards Cleburne, is currently available for adoption.

Gentry is the Adopt-A-Highway coordinator for both Hood and Somervell Counties. Anyone interested in joining in the program can contact Gentry at the local TxDOT office by calling 897-2647 or sending an email to egentry@dot.state.tx.us.