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Volunteer picks up North Mankato just for fun

[ Click:55 ]    [ by Jasmine, CHINASTARS  Feb 6, 2018 ]

Rick Oglesby is not the type of man to leave a job unfinished.

He'll find and pick up trash along the road if you let him. When he's done with that, he'll ask you to let him pick up garbage at nearby parks and trails. If you continue to let him help out, he'll repair city fixtures or paint a utility box.

"He's probably the only one who's done it day in and day out without even asking," said Brad Swanson, North Mankato's public works director. "He just wants to contribute."

For almost two years, Oglesby put on safety vest to walk along roads and through city parks cleaning up garbage and beautifying public property throughout North Mankato. He spends much of his time during the week on the prowl for errant trash, whenever he can squeeze a walk into his schedule.

"I love being outdoors, and I thought well, it's a good way to get my exercise," he said. "And there's no timetable for when you have to do it, so it's kind of just a pleasant walk with a bag.

At first, Oglesby just wanted to walk Lee Boulevard. It wouldn't be long before he decided to tackle nearby Centennial Park, however. The trash he saw there bothered him just as much as the garbage he found along Lee.

He wasn't done, however — Oglesby asked the city if he could walk along Lake Street with wear a reflective vest, then out to Bluff Valley Trail, then over to Lookout Drive and Judson Bottom Road near the Minnesota River — his favorite walking route.

Oglesby keeps asking for more responsibilities, and the city is more than happy to give him work to do. He'll trim trees, clean off sidewalks, even paint utility boxes — all what a part-time city employee would do, and all at his suggestion. His friends, family and sometimes the people he meets during his walks all tell him he should get paid for his time, but Oglesby doesn't feel the same way.

"I just want to do it because it makes me feel good, that the streets are clean," he said. "And you know, even the winter months I might get out walking, just listening to nature is worth it."

He hopes to take on even more routes in the future, including area highways. That is, assuming he gets permission from an even higher authority than North Mankato officials.