NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. (KSNF) — A lot of us have vowed to make our communities a cleaner place in 2022. But one southwest Missouri man has been doing that since long before the new year started.
While residents in his neighborhood may not know Larry Ross, his self-appointed nickname is hard to forget: “The ‘Litter Getter.'”
Three times a week, regardless of the weather, you’ll find Ross picking up trash along Apricot Road in Newton County.
“Yeah, this is disrespect right here, people gonna learn,” he said as he picked up trash along the roadside.
“My last count was 358 bags of trash off the 12 and a half miles that I take care of in my neighborhood,” Ross said.
But picking up after others wasn’t the goal when he started his roadside routine three months ago, which takes him about four hours to complete.
“Went to the emergency room a couple of times, went to a heart specialist and all this stuff and just decided one day that I was gonna get out and do some walking, started walking up and down my road over here and was and became totally disgusted with the trash in my ditch.”
At first, he only knew a handful of his neighbors. But that’s all changed.
“This guy’s unbelievable, actually,” said neighbor Deborah French.
“They come out and give me a bottle of water when it’s warm, and one brought me coffee the other day,” Ross said.
“The first time I saw him, he was out in the front ditch in front of my house picking up the trash that I’d normally have to pick up before I’d mow, so he’s just been awesome, and the community looks so much better,” French said.
The Joplin Special Road District happily supplies him with all the bags he needs. It also gave him cans for residents he’s inspired to do the same.
“I love people using my barrels,” Ross said.
Even the safety lights on his truck were a donation.
“I’ve found a sawed-off shotgun. I’ve found cell phones, a half of a car probably, I found a complete front end off in a ditch, fenders. It’s amazing what you’ll find in a ditch.”