From T. R. Williams:

A few weeks ago I wrote about the annual contest that rewards our schools for collecting recyclables. This week I received a report on the county-wide recycling totals for 2016, which includes thousands of tons that are picked up from industries and businesses.

Thanks to all those partners, we do a great job when it comes to recycling. What we need to do now is work harder in another garbage-related area.

You know what I’m talking about. Trash on our roadsides and at illegal dump sites has reached an almost epidemic level.

My office refers your calls about trouble spots to solid waste staff, who take out crews of inmates to clean up those areas. Their reports back to me are horror stories of tires, furniture, dirty diapers, and dead animals dumped in remote parts of Lawrence County. Often, for some reason, these are near streams that have the potential to carry pollutants through everyone’s back yard.

I know that only a handful of Lawrence Countians are dumping loads of trash. We’re working hard to not only clean up those areas, but prosecute those responsible for them. The Tennessee Highway Patrol investigates and prosecutes those who leave any evidence of their identity with their trash. The next steps are to install cameras at several sites and capture these offenders on film.

Dump sites in out-of-the-way places are just one side of this issue, and unfortunately, the rest is on full display. I talked to a pick-up crew manager recently about which roads are the worst. Several names came up – I’m sure you could think of a few yourself – but at the end he said “really, we could go to any road.”

But as hard as it is to find those responsible for illegal dump sites, it is even harder to identify people who throw trash from their vehicles. The fact is that we have to operate on the honor system, with an emphasis on “honor.”

We do dishonor to ourselves and the beautiful place we live when we drop garbage from our windows, allow it to fly from a truck bed, or let it accumulate in our front yards. I haven’t seen every part of this country, but those I have, have nothing on us in terms of natural beauty. Fast food wrappers and bottles spoil that for everyone.

The consequences are not just visual and environmental, but economic. Folks looking to locate businesses here notice roadside trash. Garbage strewn along otherwise scenic areas speaks volumes to others about our character, our values, and our work ethic.

Would you like to be part of the solution? Lawrence County’s Community Clubs are conducting their biannual community-wide cleanup campaign through May 31. You can pick up trash (no household garbage, please) and take it to the local Solid Waste facility where it will be weighed and credited to any of our 12 Community Clubs. At the end of the campaign, the pounds are tallied and the Clubs with the most win cash prizes.

Last year’s fall pickup netted a total of 28,920 pounds. Summertown claimed $500; Mars Hill $400; West Point $300; and Gandy $200. All others received $100 for participation. Prize money comes from our state litter grant, the same fund that rewards schools for recycling collection. Designate your collection to any of those mentioned, or Center Point, Copperas Branch, Crawfish Valley, Fall River, Henryville, New Prospect, Southeast Lawrence, or West End.

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