Each fall GRDA hosts an annual volunteer Adopt the Shoreline cleanup, last year TowBoatUS Grand Lake was invited to participate.
If it's true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, then it was mission accomplished for Capt. Steve Rhoades, who had just taken over TowBoatUS Grand Lake last September when he was invited to a community event.
The Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) manages the 46,500-acre lake for the state of Oklahoma. Each fall GRDA hosts an annual volunteer Adopt the Shoreline cleanup. The 2020 event was canceled because of COVID-19, but it returned last year with Rhodes personally invited by the dam authority.
"I'm kind of a halfway hippie myself, so I enjoy doing stuff like that," Rhoades says. "I wanted to show the community we do more than give you a jump-start. We'll help clean up your lake."
Rhoades and his TowBoatUS boat were among 24 volunteers and nine watercraft involved in the effort. In one day, the team cleaned up a large stretch of the lake's 1,300 miles of shoreline, removing 3 tons of debris — Styrofoam (from floating docks), discarded barrels, abandoned boat lift systems, and even a refrigerator!
Rhoades pushed his barge with cranes on each side, which he uses for salvage jobs for sunken boats, to a central station that allowed volunteers to shuttle debris onto the barge, which was then pushed ashore for disposal. GRDA provided the dumpsters, paid the disposal costs for the operation, and staff grilled hamburgers for all the volunteers.
"I already told GRDA to count me in for this year's cleanup," says Rhoades. Boaters on Grand Lake (officially named Grand Lake O' The Cherokees) can also count on Rhoades being there for them in the years to come.