JEFFERSON CITY - For most people picking up trash is an unwanted chore. For Richard McAllister of Piedmont, cleaning up litter on the side of the road is a hobby that has become a passion.
This is not just a few miles of roadway or a few bags of trash that we are talking about.
"We (McAllister and his hired help) pick up about 100 miles of roads in western Wayne County every two weeks and average 10 to 15 bags of trash per day," McAllister said. "With picking up both sides of the road and traveling to and from our starting points, we travel about 269 miles every two weeks."
McAllister first adopted a stretch of Route 49 in Wayne County with his twin brother in 2002 because they felt it was a unique way to give back to the community. McAllister then wanted to expand his hobby. In 2006 he was able to hire some help with donations from the community.
"If you are going to do something, it is best to do it right," McAllister said. "With the help and donations from around the community, we can do this project right."
McAllister's passion for cleaning up litter comes from his mother whom he described as "very community minded." It also comes from the support he gets from the local community. Many people wonder why McAllister would donate so much time, resources and energy into cleaning up trash.
"I like to tell people that I went to go see a psychiatrist and found out that I have TOCD, Trash Obsessive Compulsive Disorder," McAllister explained.
All of McAllister's hard work is not going unnoticed. Not only has McAllister received the Adopt-A-Highway Appreciation Award, he also receives free lunch from local restaurants every day.
As you can imagine, with all of the time McAllister spends cleaning up litter, nothing he finds anymore really surprises him.
"I have found a lot of billfolds, cell phones and key rings," McAllister said. "One thing that I find every week in the exact same spot is a grocery bag full of diapers. I really wish whoever is throwing it out would stop. Picking up trash does help you get over your pride."
For the future, McAllister does not think it is possible to expand much more past western Wayne County.
"There is only so much two men can do," McAllister said.
"Mr. McAllister is a great example of the more than 10,000 volunteers who participate in the Adopt-A-Highway Program," said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. "If MoDOT had to do the work of these volunteers, it would cost about $1 million a year and keep our maintenance staff from doing other needed work. That's money and resources we can put toward road improvements instead."
After McAllister adopts the last few highways in the southwest corner of Wayne County, he will be picking up everything in Wayne County west of Highway 67. McAllister said that should keep him busy for a while.
For more information on the Adopt-A-Highway program, call 888-ASK MODOT (275-6636) toll free and ask for the Adopt-A-Highway coordinator.Editor's note:
Visit our Newsroom
site for photos of Richard McAllister in action.