By Randy Johnston Special to the Herald Review MARION - In many parts of rural Osceola County, there is an unwanted crop - illegally dumped car and truck tires tossed onto country roads and farmland. The third annual tire round-up sponsored by Middle Branch Township for the collection and disposal of scrap tires has again proven to be a popular free tire recycling event. During two rounds of collection days in June and July, more than 450 cars, vans, trucks and trailers from 16 local townships lined up at the Middle Branch Township Hall near Marion to participate in the most successful campaign to date resulting in thousands of tires being removed from multiple communities. Owners of some of the larger vehicles helped out by hauling friends' and neighbors' tires as well as their own. This is the third consecutive year that Middle Branch Township has organized the recycling event. In 2013, 6,000 tires were collected; the number grew to more than 8,000 in 2014. Event organizer Peggy Hoard announced that this year's campaign exceeded its target goal of collecting 10,000 tires. Area residents helped to minimize a threat to public health and reduce environmental pollution by hauling more than 11,000 scrap tires to the collection site during the six designated collection dates. Chuck and Penny Miller disposed of tires in June and again in July. "There have been tires stacked on my property for years," said Chuck. "I also brought tires left during cleanup of repossessed houses that nobody knew what to do with. This is a great opportunity to get rid of a lot of tires for free. There aren't a lot of chances to get rid of tires without having to pay and I think it's great the township is doing this." Four volunteer inmates from the Osceola County Jail worked tirelessly in the summer heat to help residents load their unwanted tires onto the semitrucks. "I want to express my thanks to Kory Barcume, Mat Patterson, Zack Newsome and Mike Everst, our volunteers from the county jail," Hoard said. "We couldn't have done all that we did without them and we appreciate their great attitude and willingness to do whatever it took to get thousands of tires onto the semis. They were a big factor in making it the best collection to date." According to Hoard, Middle Branch Township plans to sponsor a fourth scrap tire collection in 2016. Next spring, area residents should visit their township websites for details and dates and watch for other announcements in newsletters and news articles. For further information, contact Hoard at (231) 631-9970.