ROCKINGHAM — One Richmond County commissioner wants to put up cameras to catch litterbugs.
After hearing County Manager Bryan Land mention a security upgrade at the Richmond County Airport during last week’s meeting, Commissioner Don Bryant asked about putting cameras along Airport Road to try and deter littering — or at least see who is responsible.
“I looked online, I saw some that activate by solar,” Bryant said. “I’d make them real obvious and then put some signs … ‘Don’t litter’ … and see if it works.”
Bryant suggested monitoring the camera from the airport.
“Airport Road is continually a struggle for us,” Land said. “If you remember, last month (June) we picked it up three times, alone.”
In July, county workers collected 16 bags of trash from the sides of that road, as well as Mill Road, according to the Solid Waste report.
But those two weren’t the worst.
The report shows 29 bags were picked up from Mizpah Road and 18 from Sandhills Road.
Other trash bag totals from the county include:
- 14 – Wiregrass Road
- 11 – Harrington and County Home roads
- 9 – Old Cheraw, Hatcher and Freeman Mill roads
- 8 – Battley Dairy Road
- 6 – Hall Road and Hannah Pickett Avenue
- 4 – Chalk and Roslyn roads
- 2 – Church Street
There were also four tires removed from Airport Road and two from Freeman Mill Road.
County workers collected 172 bags of trash weighing 2.14 tons. The report shows the N.C. Department of Transportation picked up 0.54 tons of trash, but no road names or bag totals are attributed to the agency.
The 2.68 tons for July is nearly a ton lighter than the 3.6 tons of the previous two months.
According to the report one illegal dump site was reported and one investigated, there was one garbage-burning investigation, and two citations were issued.
In late July, the RO reported an estimated 60 full bags of garbage were dumped in two piles on the side of McGirt Road, just east of Hamlet; and a boat was found discarded on Dave Kings Road, northwest of Rockingham.
Public Works Director Jerry Austin told the RO at the time that those bags were picked up by someone other than county workers.
Assistant Public Works Director Bryan Leggett told the RO that the case is still under investigation.
Land told Bryant that he and IT Director Jimmy Quick have discussed similar cameras and have looked at a program in Robeson County.
“They’re putting out some signs, and they’re really neat signs, and they’re like, just a snazzed-up version of ‘Keep Our County Clean and Beautiful,’ you know, like we used to do years ago,” Land said. “We’re definitely looking into that… It’s definitely an epidemic we’ve been fighting for years.”
“Every time I see a Highway Patrol car, I automatically slow down,” Bryant said. “So maybe if they have these cameras, they may just stop littering.”
If a camera is placed on Airport Road and if it works to deter littering, Bryant suggested putting more around the county, like down at the river landing.
“Maybe a redneck may try to shoot it out, but we’ll know who did it,” Bryant said.
The commissioner also proposed raising littering fines to $1,000 and/or a week-long work detail.
In February, House Majority Leader Dan Bell, R-Wayne, introduced a bill that would, in part, double litter-related fines.
However, legislative records show House Bill 100 has been stalled since late April when a committee substitute — which only calls for a study into littering penalties — was sent back to the Appropriations Committee.
“We need to stop all this trash,” Bryant said. “It’s pretty disgraceful.”
But, as Bryant and Land pointed out, it’s not just a local problem.
As of mid-July, NCDOT had reported more than 8 million pounds of trash had been collected from state roadsides.
Commissioner Andy Grooms said he was “all for some litter cameras.”
Grooms added that he’s still seeing the results from the countywide cleanup in May that collected more than 3 tons of trash.
Land said he was recently asked by a representative from a county in the mountains: “What are y’all doing in Richmond County to keep your roads looking so good?
“And I was like, ‘Roads looking good? We don’t think they look good in Richmond County!’” Land said. “So, obviously, people outside the county are seeing that we’re trying.”
The county has several employees who pick up trash all day, every day.
Land added that the county is planning another event and hopes the turnout will be as good as it was for Earth Day.