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‘Cleanest highway in Nevada’
by Garrett Valenzuela
May 27, 2012 | 4424 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Sparks resident Bruce Osgood stops for a picture Thursday during his six-mile walk on Pyramid Highway where he cleans trash on the roadways. Osgood began walking four days per week after having two strokes since 2008.
SPARKS — About 20 times each day Bruce Osgood will hear a wailing honk from a passing car on Pyramid Highway where he will then shoot his eyes up to the driver and raise his 32-inch aluminum grabber in response. The drivers continue on their way while frantically waving and smiling to Osgood, a message that seems to say “thank you.”

If you are out in the early morning you may have seen Osgood walking his daily six-mile patch of asphalt on Pyramid Highway, lugging his trash can filled with roadside litter, a job he says he doesn’t mind doing.

“My goal is to make it the cleanest highway in Nevada,” Osgood said. “Well, at least in a six-mile stretch.”

Osgood uses Monday and Thursday to clean between Queen Way and the Wal-Mart near Los Altos Parkway, and uses Tuesday and Friday to clean between Wal-Mart and Eagle Canyon Road — beginning at 5 a.m. each morning.

In the Spring of 2011 Osgood experienced his second stroke since 2008 due to high blood pressure. As a former distance hiker and biker Osgood took his boots to Pyramid Highway, a segment of road he has always enjoyed, in an attempt to improve his overall health. From his home near Queen Way and 4th Street in Sparks, Osgood began hiking north on the highway in hopes it would give him similar enjoyment to hiking mountain trails.

Along his route he became frustrated with the noticeable amount of trash cluttering the bushes, dirt and asphalt and decided that his inevitable walk could be better spent collecting litter.

“I didn’t realize how much people appreciated it,” he said. “I know I’m not the only reason it is clean, but it does help.”

Osgood, who once ventured up Mount Whitney, said he would no longer be able to hike mountains in fear of illness overcoming him. His philosophy: prevent illness with activity and exercise and don’t count on a doctor to save him again.

Osgood spent several years working in the insurance industry in California, supporting his wife, daughter and son. His Sparks residence has been his home since 1971. After leaving the insurance game he found work as a taxi driver, an occupation he held for several years before retiring due to his health issues, which made him glad he chose to move to Nevada.

“I decided money wasn’t everything and that I was going to move where I wanted to stay for the rest of my life,” he said. “I love it here.”

Armed with his trash can and his “life-saving” grabbing stick, Osgood has spent the last seven months picking up small, lightweight pieces of trash that fit nicely into his bucket. The only assistance he requires is a dumpster or two along his route, which can usually be found at a park. Because of his age he said some people may have the wrong idea about him when they see him from their vehicles.

“People probably think ‘what’s he doing out there?’ but once they stop and find out I’m harmless they’ll start honking when they come by,” Osgood said. On a couple occasions Osgood has been approached by local residents who see him frequently walking and have handed him personal cards of recognition that contained heartfelt messages and gift cards for places like Starbucks, Red Robin and Squeeze In.

“My wife likes to call them my girlfriends,” he said. “I’ll see them out here two or three times each month and they always honk.”

The cards from his admirers displayed short messages of respect and gratitude, saying that Osgood’s dedication was a great community service and was not going unnoticed. He said he very much appreciates the people who notice him, but the “glory” was never his main goal.

“I’m not out here to get their attention. I’m happy to wave to them and thank them for noticing, but that’s not the most important thing,” he said.

At 72, Osgood said younger folks may not understand but he pays pretty close attention to the obituaries found in newspapers. While reading he finds several people younger than him that have passed away, which he said tells him “you never know when your time will come.”

“Exercise might be one of the reasons I’m still alive,” he said followed by the sarcastic statement, “maybe if had smoked my whole life and not exercised I wouldn’t be here.”

As for how long he plans to continue his daily cleanup, Osgood sees no logical reason to stop.

“There is always trash to pick up,” he said. “It’s good for the community and a good deed for me. I might still be here in 10 years cleaning, or I will be looking up or looking down wondering why they’re trashing the highway.”
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