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Lake clean up in Worthington

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Demetrius Nealy (5), Sebastian Ordonez (26) and DeCarlos Wood (72), members of the Minnesota West Community and Technical football team, pick up trash across from Olson Park during Saturday morning's Lake Okabena Improvement Association's annual lake and shore cleanup.

WORTHINGTON -- Assisted by scores of volunteers armed with gloves and black trash bags, Lake Okabena received its customary spring cleaning Saturday.

Human-made trash and natural debris were both removed from the shoreline by more than 80 people organized by the Lake Okabena Improvement Association (LOIA).

"We've had two clean-ups this year, so I don't think there's going to be as much (garbage)," Genny Turner told the volunteers who gathered in Centennial Park.

A group of people in the National Guard did a fall lake cleanup for the first time in October last year, and more than 30 people spent about four hours clearing out garbage under harsh weather conditions.

In addition, Brad Grimmius' high school class cleaned up approximately one-third of the public portions of the lake, including all of Sailboard Beach, last week.

As it turned out, Turner was correct. The volunteers picked up approximately 1,000 pounds of garbage, along with more than 2,000 pounds of wood and natural debris -- down from previous years.

The first year of the clean-up, approximately 2,000 pounds of garbage and 2,000 pounds of debris were picked up. Since then, the garbage has been decreasing, and people have noticed the lake becoming cleaner.

In addition to the usual small pieces of trash, there were many dead fish, a dead goose, two lawn chairs and a couple of small containers filled with human feces.

Young volunteers concentrated on the more difficult portions of the lake, including the grade and Whiskey Ditch, where steep sides make cleanup efforts a challenge.

Richard Shrubb, president of Minnesota West Community and Technical College, along with three Minnesota West students, helped out.

So did Dan Livdahl, Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District Administrator, as well as students from the Nobles County Integration Collaborative, LOIA members and the Kiwanis clubs.