EAST ROCKINGHAM — Several Richmond County residents will be doing a roadside cleanup this weekend, trying to improve the look and reduce pollution.
The group will be picking up garbage along Chalk and Freeman Mill roads Saturday, June 29. They will meet at 9 a.m. at Highland Pines Baptist Church.
The cleanup was announced by Kelly Chandler this past Saturday in the Facebook group Toward Zero Waste Richmond County.
Chandler asked for suggestions earlier in the month from the group. Other potential locations included Hitchcock Creek on Midway Road near Cascades and U.S. 220.
“I think anywhere at this point,” commented Allison Story, who led a cleanup effort on the Richmond County side of Blewett Falls Dam several years back. “Our community has gotten trashy and I think it will go appreciated wherever.”
Littering has been a popular topic of discussion in the county for the past several years. County Manager Bryan Land even includes monthly figures in his report to the Board of Commissioners.
Thirteen tons of garbage were picked up by county employees during the months of December and January.
Although Land didn’t initially include it in his June report, Commissioner Jimmy Capps asked if there had been any improvement.
Land said that a third county employee had been added to help pick up garbage and that “we are utilizing our community service workers.” However, he added, “We are getting fewer and fewer trustworthy community service workers.”
The county currently has three employees in three trucks picking up garbage everyday, Land said, in addition to the N.C. Department of Transportation.
When it comes to the Adopt-A-Highway program, Land said many of the organizations that used to participate don’t exist anymore or are “not inspired to go out and do what they did years ago.”
“We just need to get that out to the local organizations,” he said.
Capps then asked about the education angle, teaching kids not to litter.
“Can we go to the schools and talk to people? That’s where it’s got to get started,” Capps said.
Land said the county has been doing that for several years, giving talks to second- and fifth-graders himself. He added that Jerry Austin, public works director, does that now, handing out literature and coloring books.
“And it helps some, it definitely does,” Land said. “But that’s where it starts, is with these kids and getting it in their heads.”
For Chandler, she’s making sure to teach her daughter about keeping the environment clean.
The two of them picked cigarette butts and other trash at the Hitchcock Creek Greenway on Earth Day last month.
To volunteer, contact Chandler through the group Toward Zero Waste Richmond County.