Every week after work, Mike Ruth mows the medians from Tanglewood Mall to Brambleton Avenue.
"It is curb appeal," Ruth says. "I own the Shoe Doctor down the street and in front of my store it looked horrible.
His shirt says he is not a convict; instead, he is a volunteer mower for VDOT.
"My little gas can, I fill it up for about $8," he says.
He pours his own money and time to help VDOT.
"If we can save a tax dollar here and there by picking up the tab, let's do it," he says.
We checked with VDOT about this volunteer mowing program. Jason Bond tells me that last year, the statewide budget for mowing was $29 million with 23 volunteer mowers. The Salem district got $3.6 million of that budget, with seven volunteers. They estimate all the volunteer mowers saved between $4,000 and $22,000. This year, the number of mowers has increased to 75 mowers statewide and 12 in the Salem district. VDOT estimates the volunteers will save them between $24,000 and $72,000.
And because of budget cuts in years before, Bond says mowing was reduced for some areas to three times a year to help save money.
"If we want it cut any faster, we need to do it ourselves," Ruth says. "There is a time to make things happen. We are making it happen on this side of town. My stretch of highway will look good."
Which is why Ruth says he will keep mowing the medians, as long as he is able to, and says he hopes others step up to the plate to help where it is needed.