Wednesday, 03 February 2021 13:46

Richmond County leaders encourage residents to aid in fight against litter 'epedimic'

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Richmond County leaders encourage residents to aid in fight against litter 'epedimic' RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — The county continues its fight to keep Richmond County roadways clear of garbage and local leaders are asking residents for help.

During his monthly report, Land said county workers, along with the N.C. Department of Transportation, picked up 415 bags and eight tires from 19 roads within the past month, accounting for 5.1 tons of trash.

The solid waste enforcement officer also investigated two illegal dump sites and issued two citations, Land added.

He said Jeff Smart, chairman of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, and several residents called to report several roads that needed “extra attention ASAP,” including Airport Road, U.S. 1 North and N.C. highways 38 and 381. Some of that clean-up has already taken place, with trash pick-up on N.C. 38 scheduled to start Wednesday.

Land encourages all of Richmond County to join in the fight on “this litter epidemic that we’re going through, it’s awful.”

Littering has been a problem for years, Smart said, remembering trashy roads from his childhood.

Land has included the information in his monthly reports since becoming county manager, highlighting both the problem and the county’s efforts to clean things up.

From March through September of 2020, local and state employees picked up 2,815 bags of trash and 244 tires for 28.7 tons of garbage.

Commissioner Andy Grooms asked Land if he had looked at any other ways, aside from using government employees, to keep the county clean.

“It’s not just roadways, it’s parking lots, it’s everywhere you look,” Grooms said, mentioning the Adopt-A-Highway signs and, before being cut off, seemed to infer that those groups didn’t appear to be active.

“Bryan Leggett (assistant public works director) has reached out to a lot of our groups that used to have the Adopt-A-Highway, and we’re reaching out to them again,” Land said. “We used to have a considerable amount of church groups, Boy Scout groups, different organizations that would adopt roads, but it’s just, those groups, I don’t know if they’re dwindling, the younger folks aren’t stepping up to the plate, but we’re going to keep trying to ramp it up more and more. We’re obviously not giving up on it.”

Grooms also asked if there were any incentives the county could offer toward churches and other groups who would volunteer to pick up trash.

“We can get as creative as you guys want,” Land replied. “We’re trying every day. I’m beating my head against the wall on this. It’s one of my pet peeves, as well.”

Land said N.C. 38 is “awful” — “There’s full bags of trash down there.”

“It’s very important that we keep our county as clean as possible,” Smart said in his closing remarks. “All of us sitting at this table certainly want that and will do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

He said the numbers Land reports each month “are kind of outrageous.”

Smart acknowledged that not all of the littering may be intentional, saying that some could fall out of vehicles on the way to one of the county’s dump sites.

That being said, Smart encourages residents to take responsibility to keep the county clean, not only for those who live here but for visitors travelling through.

“And it’s important for our recruitment process for future businesses and future industries,” Smart added. 

Picking up trash, Smart said, can’t be just a once-in-a-while effort — it has to be daily endeavor.

“If everyone’s not going to take responsibility, then we’ll have to have groups that will,” Smart said. “I’m going to keep this on the forefront and I hope most of you will.”