Adopt A Highway becomes family remembrance
Janice Kass’ name is written on the newest Adopt A Highway sign erected in Rock County.
Its location along North Blue Mound Avenue is in remembrance of Kass, who was someone who appreciated the outdoors and the spectacular views afforded by the Blue Mounds over the city of Luverne.
When the mile section came available for adoption last month, Cheryl Hartman, rural Luverne, immediately thought of her mom.
The sign also reads “In memory of,” as Kass, age 70, died from inflammatory breast cancer in 2012.
“It’s a nice reminder for me and for everybody,” Hartman said.
Kass often commented on the rock formations and prairie grass as they traveled North Blue Mound Avenue to visit Hartman and her family (husband, Eric, and daughters, Alexandra and Caitlin) in Vienna Township.
“She would always comment that she loved the Blue Mounds,” Hartman recalled.
Today Kass’ family members are caretakers of the ditches near the Blue Mounds and among the farm fields similar to those of Kass and her husband, Howard, near Dundee.
Kass’ family is one of 13 groups to collect garbage along 30 miles of county road ditches twice a year.
More roads are available.
Interested individuals and groups can contact the Rock County Highway Department for more information. Their phone number is 283-5010.
On Sunday Hartman and her family members cleaned their Adopt A Highway ditches for the first time. “We walked and shared memories,” Hartman said. “It’s a fun thing to do in her honor.”
Nation’s cleaner roadway efforts began 50 years ago
Rock County’s Adopt A Highway Program takes its origin from the federal Highway Beautification Act passed in late 1965.
The act covered three key areas: Control of outdoor advertising, control of junkyards and landscaping and scenic enhancements.
According to the Federal Highway Administration website, the idea of more scenic roadway was that of former First Lady, “Lady Bird” Johnson, who encouraged the planting of flowers and trees along America’s highways.
The idea of Adopt A Highway came to the state level in 1990. The state program centered on collecting litter from roadsides.
In Minnesota last year, volunteers picked up 970,000 pounds — more than 100 dump truck loads — of litter, saving the state an estimated $7 million in cleanup costs, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The volunteers also saved MnDOT employees’ time.
Rock County’s program began in 1991 with the Blue Ribbon 4-H Club, which still maintains an adopted highway today.