ROCKINGHAM — County Manager Bryan Land gave kudos to the effort taken up by some residents to help keep Richmond County clean.
“We’re starting to witness an increase in a grassroots effort for citizens joining in to clean up roadways in Richmond County,” he told commissioners at the July 9 meeting. “I sincerely appreciate the effort by the numerous citizens that are doing their part to make Richmond County a cleaner place to live.”
Late last month, Kelly Chandler, founder of Toward Zero Waste Richmond County, and six other volunteers picked up four large bags of trash along Chalk and Freeman Mill roads.
Chandler said in a Facebook post that the garbage was comprised mostly of empty alcohol and fast food containers, “and a whole lot of cigarette butts.”
Helping her out were her husband, Adam, Phil Joines, Allison Story, Alexis Wise and her two children, Atticus and Callie.
Chandler had more help on this endeavor than her first, which was a cleanup around the Hitchcock Creek Greenway on Steele Street for Earth Day.
On April 22, Chandler and her 9-year-old daughter, Kaylynne, walked around the park collecting mostly plastic candy and straw wrappers and Easter grass, presumably from an egg hunt the previous weekend.
Chandler is taking classes on environmental studies and sustainability at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her ultimate goal, whether professionally or as a hobby, “is to do something to get people to be more sustainable.”
“Our main focus is to get people to consume less,” she told the RO in April. “Because if you consume less, you have less waste — and less waste is a better thing for everybody.”
In addition to being an advocate for animals, Story has also been an advocate against litter bugs.
In 2016, she organized a cleanup on the Richmond County side of the Blewett Falls Dam after driving to the area to relax and finding garbage strewn throughout. Story posted a video with her commentary on the situation prior to the cleanup.
The city of Rockingham, the Creek Runners Club and several local corporations have also led cleanups along Hitchcock Creek and the Pee Dee River in recent years.
Cadets from Richmond Senior High School’s Army JROTC Raider Battalion picked up a bag of trash at the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion’s monument near Lake Kinney Cameron in February.
Land told the RO in a January email that while illegal dumping is an issue, “roadside littering continues to be our most noticeable and continuous problem.”
As for the county’s cleanup efforts, Land said Solid Waste Director Allen Hodges and his crew, along with workers from the N.C. Department of Transportation, had “a busy month,” picking up 564 bags of trash — which equals out to about five tons — and removed 47 tires along 24 roadways in June. Hodges also investigated one illegal dumpsite and issued five citations and warnings throughout the month.
Land encourages residents to “join in the fight against the litter epidemic.”