Monday, 03 May 2021 18:45

More than 3 tons of trash picked up along Richmond County roads

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Volunteers from American Woodmark pick up trash along Freeman Mill Road on Saturday. Volunteers from American Woodmark pick up trash along Freeman Mill Road on Saturday. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Volunteers picked up more than three tons of garbage from Richmond County roadsides this weekend.


The countywide effort, led by Assistant Public Works Director Bryan Leggett and Aging Services Director Jacqueline Welch, saw 39 groups collect 404 bags of trash weighing 6,449 pounds, Leggett said Monday.

He added that the county typically picks up an average of three tons per month. According to solid waste reports, more than 5 tons of litter were collected in March.

The event was originally slated for April 24 but was pushed back to May 1 due to weather.

Both Leggett and Welch said some groups cleaned up their designated areas during the week.

“Although our original date was rained out I think this has worked out great,” Leggett said. “This has allowed some groups to pick up throughout the week and not obligated to a certain day, which helped (to) achieve participation from all groups. Some of the groups have already made commitments to continue their efforts.”

Prior to the cleanup, the N.C. Department of Transportation picked up along the major roads, including U.S. highways 1, 74 and 220, Leggett said.

NCDOT announced in mid-April that efforts have led to more than 4 million pounds of trash being picked up across the state this year.

The department promoted the Spring Litter Sweep program, 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 state House Transportation Committee recently amended a bill that would have doubled littering fines.

One of the worst areas in the county, according to Leggett, was near the von Drehle plant in Cordova, where employees filled the bed of a small pickup truck three times in February. There also happens to be a nearby convenience site.

Leggett said crews generally find a lot of trash within a 3- to 4-mile radius of county dumps.

County Manager Bryan Land and a crew from Roberdel Baptist Church picked up garbage on Sunday, and Leggett added that some groups are still planning to clean their areas in the near future.

Groups in several areas picked up 15-20 bags each including: 

  • Midway Road
  • Mizpah Road (RSHS Beta Club)
  • Freeman Mill Road (American Woodmark)
  • Hamlet City Lake to N.C. 38 (Hamlet Depot and Museums)
  • McDonald Church Road
  • Exit 316 on U.S. 74 Bypass (for N.C. 177)

Bob Young, director of operations at American Woodmark, led three groups along Freeman Mill Road, between Gin Mill Road and N.C. 38 — the company’s designated Adopt-A-Highway section.

Nearby was Richmond Early College High School’s Eco Club, which picked up several bags of trash on Wiregrass Road in March.

Young said his group picked up 21 bags (though not all full), the front bumper from a Ford Mustang and two tire treads.

“Today’s event was something special,” Diana Martinez, environmental health and safety manager for American Woodmark, said in a statement Saturday. “We regularly celebrate safety, efficiency and other great accomplishments and milestones. Today we were able to celebrate making the earth a little bit better. The amount of trash collected on our road was shocking.

“At American Woodmark, we are a family that loves our community and today our family made a difference in the community,” Martinez continued. I am so proud to be a member of this family and seeing what we accomplished today was pretty awesome. I can’t thank everyone enough who helped make this possible!”

Following the cleanup, the company had a cookout with a DJ.

Both Young and Richmond County Tax Clerk Nina Morrison said the most common items found along the roads were alcohol bottles and cans — including a bottle of Jose Cuervo — and fast food containers.

Morrison, who was with a group cleaning up around Greenlake and Hall roads, said they also found a dish pan, a TV stand and furniture.

In addition, Leggett said he received an email from Vulcan Materials stating that crews from the mining company had picked up nearly a ton in the Galestown Road area, which included multiple tires.

“I’m very thankful for everyone being involved,” Leggett said, adding that it was great to see the local excitement and participation. “I think it made an impact in our community.”

Leggett said the organizing group plans to meet again to plan another cleanup for the fall, adding  it may become a twice-a-year event.

“Hopefully we’ll have continued efforts moving forward … to keep the county clean.”

For more photos, see the Richmond Observer's Facebook page, as well as the page Earth Day is Everyday- Richmond County, NC.