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Murray Journal

Murray's annual cleanup: A growing tradition of civic responsibility

Nov 07, 2023 01:37PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Murray Chamber of Commerce volunteers display the trash they collected. (Photo courtesy of Jerry Summerhays)

In a display of community collaboration, volunteers from the Murray Rotary Club, Miss Murray, Murray City and various local organizations joined forces with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to address the persistent issue of litter on freeway interchanges in Murray. Since its inception in 2021, this annual cleanup initiative, which happened on Oct. 14 this year, has become a fixture in the community, enhancing the city's appearance while also alleviating the burden on UDOT.

The origins of this endeavor trace back to 2021 when Murray Rotary, Miss Murray, and Murray City organized a citywide cleanup event. However, they soon realized that the freeway interchanges, where litter was most prevalent, were inaccessible. In response to this challenge, they approached UDOT, which welcomed their assistance.

With UDOT's support, the cleanup operation focused on four major interchange locations each fall: 280 East and I-215, State Street and I-215, 4500 South and I-15, and 5300 South and I-15. UDOT's role in this initiative includes providing 60-gallon trash bags, safety vests, and managing the disposal of the collected bags.

According to Andrew Fredrickson, Roadway Operations manager at UDOT, finding 12 experienced Rotarians to supervise the cleanup teams is relatively straightforward. The real challenge lies in recruiting the 60 to 80 community volunteers required for the operation. To address this, organizers used various approaches. They invite their families and friends and post volunteer requests on, usually six to eight weeks in advance.

One of the noteworthy aspects of this initiative is the collaboration between the Murray Rotary Club, the Murray Chamber of Commerce and UDOT. This year, the Murray Chamber of Commerce took on the responsibility for the south side of the 5300 South and I-15 interchange.

Matt Gibbons, president of the Murray Chamber of Commerce, said, "The Murray Chamber of Commerce is honored to partner with Murray Rotary and to continue working together to make Murray the best place to work, live or visit."

UDOT also commended the efforts of the Murray Rotary Club, acknowledging the impact of their work in reducing litter pickup expenses. Fredrickson said, "The 94 bags of litter the Murray Rotary Club picked up on Saturday was a tremendous help. Thank you." played a role in mobilizing volunteers for this project. Many volunteers, including 20 from the JustServe Club at Bingham High School, were recruited through the platform. These volunteers were divided into teams, each assigned to clean specific sections of the interchanges.

Remi Hall, president of the JustServe Club at Bingham High School, said, "I thought the project went great. We were able to clean up a lot and get it done fairly quickly, even in our small groups. And we were all grateful for the opportunity to serve."

This year, a total of 64 volunteers participated in the cleanup, forming 12 groups of five to six individuals. Each group was tasked with cleaning a specific section of the interchanges. Along the way, they encountered abandoned homeless camps, shedding light on broader community challenges.

Additionally, volunteers were treated to a celestial spectacle as an eclipse occurred during the cleanup. Eclipse glasses were provided in advance, allowing volunteers to enjoy the event while continuing their work.

Rotarian Jerry Summerhays said, “The biggest impact is on the volunteers. It indeed shocks us how much litter we pick up in two hours….There ought to be anti-litter campaigns. There ought to be more volunteers helping UDOT. Each year while we are cleaning up, people in cars shout at us, ‘Thank you!’ One of our volunteers, Sonya Shepherd, wrote to me, ‘We drove by later that day and saw the area we cleaned. It was nice to see it cleaned up and to know we were a part of helping to clean it.’”

The Rotarian’s plan is to do the project each fall. If they could get more volunteers, according to Summerhays, they would add the Union Park interchange with I-215 to our project.  

“You are welcome to come to our twice-monthly meetings. Please help us with our monthly community service projects and our yearly international service project,” Summerhays said.

For more information about the Murray Rotary Club go to λ