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Holcombe neighbor continues cleaning up his neck of the woods 17 years later

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Vern Denzer and Katie Phernetton pick up trash
Katie Phernetton and Vern Denzer pick up trash in Rusk County.

Holcombe (WQOW) - If you live in Holcombe, you may have spotted Vern Denzer walking the same 4.3 mile stretch in his neighborhood, picking up things he says "the good Lord didn't intend to put there."

For 17 years each spring and summer he's been cleaning up his neck of the woods. But before then, he was doing the same down in southern Wisconsin.

"Years ago the church we belong to, we had a youth fellowship group. I thought this would be a great idea for the kids, to do something that's worth while," said Denzer. "It went good the first time, the second time we had a little less people and the third time a little less. Bottom line is I ended up being the only one and I've been the only one since."

To say he's seen a ton of trash would be an understatement. In the 17 years, he picked about 40 sacks a year, with each sack weighing between 5-10 pounds. That adds up to roughly 6,800 pounds - or just under 3.5 tons of trash. All found in just that 4.3 mile stretch.

Denzer doesn't just pick the trash up and throw it away - he has a whole process set up in his garage.

"I dump the contents of the bags into a wheelbarrow and I got cans that get crushed, aluminum cans, they go to the animal shelter in that container. Then I got plastic bottles and tin cans and anything that is recyclable goes there. That goes to the dump. And then I got a garbage can that is just for garbage."

News 18's Katie Phernetton decided to join him for a morning of picking finding things of all sorts including the typical cans, bottles and cigarettes but also finding unusual things like old oil cans, that looked to be there for decades and a container of oil. Filling up a few sacks in a short amount of time.

When asked what keeps him picking - his answer was simple:

"Just seeing it keeps me picking. I hate to look at it so if I pick it and put it where it belongs I don't have to look at it."

Denzer's total for this spring is 45 sacks of trash. He says he's done now until the fall.

Katie Phernetton

Katie Phernetton is one of the Daybreak morning anchors.

She joined News 18 in August of 2018 after working as a reporter for five years in the Green Bay market. Born and raised in Green Bay, she prides herself in being a cheesehead through and through.

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