Jonathan cares about the world, do you?

jonathan cares sign

Who's Jonathan?

By Jessica Pasko

Update: Jonathan -- the Jonathan -- posted a comment below.

I've passed this Adopt-a-Highway sign on New Scotland Road, near the Tollgate Restaurant in Slingerlands, dozens of times and it's always left me scratching my head.

Is it meant to be snarky? Is it meant to make me feel bad because I haven't adopted a stretch of highway myself? Or is it just a genuine proclamation of selflessness and commitment to bettering the world, one stretch of road at a time?

To find out, I called Peter Howard, the regional Adopt-a-Highway coordinator for the state Department of Transportation. It turns out that Peter was about as confused as I was -- so he called his compatriots in the Albany County DOT offices.

Here's what I found out: officials aren't sure exactly who Jonathan is, but they suspect the sign is meant as a tribute to a likely-deceased family member. A group of people by the name of Piedmont keep the stretch of road clean and adopted. Unfortunately, that's about all anyone seems to know.

If you're curious about what exactly adopting a highway entails, the folks at DOT are more than willing to help you figure it out. Informational brochures are also available at each county's Transportation Maintenance office. (Albany County's is in Voorheesville.)

State officials say volunteers have adopted some 5,000 miles of state highways and kept them free of trash. Contrary to a certain "Seinfeld" episode, it doesn't entail reconfiguring the road's lane dividers. Adopters usually get a stretch of highway 2 miles long and they're required to pick up litter along the road four times a year for two years.

Oh, and you get a sign declaring to the world how much you care about it -- or just the name of your particular organization, if you prefer.

Find It

Jonathan Cares sign
1568 New Scotland Rd
Bethlehem, NY 12159

Comments

It's true that anyone can do it!

I'm Jonathan, and I would like to say that this article had me laughing on the floor. I mean that in the best possible way. Everyone at school is always asking me about this, and it has gotten to the point where the story is routine. My mother adopted this stretch of highway in my name when I was three - it was a lesson to me that I shouldn't litter. Ever since, we have been making sure that our little bit of road was clear of garbage. The sign is not meant to be snarky or guilt-inducing, it is just what it is: a fact. I am an environmentally conscious senior in high school, and I had the sign changed a few years ago because I had something to say. The sign is intended to make people think about whether or not they really want to litter. I suppose that the sign could be considered a tribute to me, but I am certainly not deceased. The only reason I can think of for the lack of information among the officials is a personnel change: the regional coordinator for our area has changed once or twice over the years.
I hope this clears up some of the confusion.

OMG! Tell me you're not pulling my leg Jonathan!
If you're legit, you have cleared up a major mystery for me!

There's a similar sign in Loudonville (at the intersection of Route 9 and Menands Road, I believe) that's sponsored by "Crazy College Kids." I always get a laugh out of that one.

Now I know what to get my 12 year old for her Birthday!!! Great idea - E

There's good reason to believe that Jonathan really is the Jonathan.

Yes, I am the Jonathan from the sign - my music teacher clued me in about this article when he saw it: he was curious too.

As some of you may have noticed, neither of my signs are still standing. Unfortunately, I graduated from Bethlehem, and am going out of state for college. This means that I couldn't continue to care for my little piece of highway, and I had to give up the contract. It's too bad, really, but there wasn't anything I could do. It's a shame that just summer care wasn't enough to keep them standing.

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