With the crisp, sunny fall weather lately, it's been a great time to be out on the lake. Local residents gathered recently to ensure that enjoying the lake doesn't include encountering litter.
The N.C. Big Sweep, an annual effort to clean the state's lakes and rivers, was Oct. 2.
Volunteers in the Lincoln County area of Lake Norman gathered at the Beatties Ford public access area on one of those sunny fall Saturdays. Armed with trash bags, gloves and a half-dozen boats, they departed to assigned islands to look for trash.
With the thick red clay that edges the lake, it was a dirty job. Beaching on the islands meant wading through the shallow water. Then volunteers split up to scour the area.
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On islands, it tricky maneuvering. Most of the trash had collected in the undercut, hard-to-reach areas on the islands' edges. Items found there included various construction materials, food packaging, old pool noodles, beach balls and volleyball nets.
On the islands' interiors, litter was usually minimal but typically included old cans and bottles or other picnic remnants.
In just two hours, most boats had full loads of trash. Some had just enough room for all the volunteers.
Darin and Sheri Redfern of Denver, along with neighbors Gail and Gary Budd, left the Beatties Ford access in the Redferns' pontoon boat. When they returned, the boat's seating area was filled with trash bags and a personal watercraft dock that had washed ashore on their assigned island.
Soggy and smiling, they hauled the trash to the huge bins provided by Duke Energy and GDS Services.
Craig Price, Lincoln County coordinator for Big Sweep, said the environmental and economic health of the Lake Norman region depend on clean water and the efforts of volunteers to remove litter.
"The amount of trash we find seems to be decreasing, so I'm hopeful everyone is beginning to understand how important clean water and a clean environment are," Price said.
Even if the amount of litter has decreased since Price began working with Big Sweep, this year's 257 volunteers collected 9,480 pounds of debris in the lake's four-county effort. Items included 32 tires, washing machine parts, marine batteries, anchors, chairs, tackle boxes and countless cigarette butts and beer cans.
At Midway Marina, divers from Scuba Adventures Dive Shop in Rutherford College cleaned under the docks.
"Mother Nature seems to always know we have come to clean her up, so she blesses us with such wonderful weather," said Jill Feldmeyer, the Iredell County coordinator.
Learn more at www.ncbigsweep.org.
Webb's Chapel fish fry
Webb's Chapel United Methodist Church in Denver will have its annual fish fry in its new Family Life Center.
Those attending will be able to meet candidates for local offices, including the Lincoln County school board and county commissioners, and regional offices. The event is co-sponsored by the East Lincoln Betterment Association.
The fish fry begins at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 29 and continues until the food is gone.
The church is at 4640 Webbs Chapel Church Road, Denver. Details: www.elbanc.org.