ROCKINGHAM — Clean-up crews collected more than 5 tons of litter from Richmond County roads in February.
The solid waste report, which was highlighted by County Manager Bryan Land during Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting, shows that local and state workers picked up a total of 377 bags of trash, weighing 5.2 tons.
That’s less than the 525-bag, 7.4-ton total during the month of January.
County workers 20 bags or more each on four local roads: 22 on Sandhill Road; 21 each on Mill and Wiregrass roads; and 20 on Mizpah Road. They also collected 16 bags on County Home Road and 15 bags during two swipes down Airport Road.
Other bag/road totals are:
- 14 – Harrington Road
- 12 – Old Cheraw Road
- 11 – Lee Thee Church Road
- 9 – Hatcher and Rosalyn roads
- 8 – Hall Road and Church Street
- 6 – Battley Dairy Road
- 4 – Eason Drive and Hannah Pickett Avenue
The report shows the N.C. Department of Transportation picked up 70 bags from U.S. 1, 68 from U.S. 220 and 39 from U.S. 74 Business.
Crews also cleared 39 discarded tires from 10 roads: eight from Mizpah; six each from Hall and Sandhill; four from Church Street and Old Cheraw; three from Hatcher; and two each from Eason, Hannah Pickett, Mill and Wiregrass.
The solid waste enforcement officer, according to the report, also received complaints of and investigated two illegal dump sites and issued one warning. There was also one burning investigation.
The RO has reported on possible dump sites at the end of Grace Chapel Church Road near Hamlet and the Hitchcock Creek Blue Trail access point in Cordova.
Land has included littering statistics in his monthly report to commissioners for several years, calling the issue an “epidemic.”
This week, Land referenced a report from WSOC about littering in the Charlotte area.
NCDOT reported that 13 million pounds (6,500 tons) were collected last year — “a record the department never wanted to break.”
According to WSOC, more than 1 million pounds were picked up in Mecklenburg County alone — a 20% increase from two years before.
“They are battling the same issues as we are,” Land told commissioners. “I won’t say they’re calling it an epidemic, as we have, but their total tonnage figures continue to climb year over year over year, and they have the same concerns. Litter is just a battle everyone is fighting.”
Based on county reports, nearly 60 tons of litter were picked up locally in 2021, including more than 8 tons each in October and December. October’s total of 8.5 tons was the most of any month last year and more than the Earth Day effort and May amount combined.
In an effort to curb littering, NCDOT in 2021 created an app to report litter bugs, and enlisted the help of country singer and North Carolina native Luke Combs to record an anti-littering public service announcement.
The General Assembly also attempted to make a difference.
House Majority Leader Dan Bell, R-Wayne, in February 2021 introduced the Highway Cleanup Act “to help address the growing litter problem across the state.” Rep. Ben Moss, R-Richmond was a sponsor, and Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Moore, was a sponsor of the companion bill in his chamber.
The original bill doubled all littering fines, which were stricken by the House Transportation Committee in favor of a study on the effects of fines and punishments for littering. By April, the bill stalled in the Appropriations Committee, according to legislative records.
The county is looking for volunteers for the Spring Litter Sweep, scheduled for April 25-30.
“It was a highly attended event when we did it last year; hope we’ll have the same enthusiasm from everyone,” Land said.
Any individuals, businesses or groups interested in cleaning up a section of road is encouraged to contact Solid Waste Enforcement Officer Allen Hodges at 910-997-8215 or Assistant Public Works Director Bryan Leggett at 910-997-8338.
Leggett told the RO in an email Wednesday that two groups have volunteered so far: RCC Campus Crusade for Christ and the Richmond Senior High Beta Club.
Land said the county will provide bags, safety vests and litter-grabbers at the Public Works building, 191 Walter Kelly Road, Rockingham. The vests and grabbers should be returned for future use.
The county’s annual household hazardous waste collection day is slated for Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Human Services Complex on Caroline Street.
Residents are encouraged to bring items that aren’t accepted at the landfill or convenience sites including latex and oil-based paints, household cleaners, batteries and fluorescent lights.