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Troy keeps eye out for litterbugs

Staff Writer

Individuals who choose to toss trash on Troy’s roadways may find themselves in court and, then, wearing an orange vest while picking up litter.

Thursday morning, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford and Municipal Court Judge Nick Cervera unveiled their plan to rid the city of litter.

"I pick up lots of litter," said Hollis Sunday, who can often be seen cleaning up around town.

Sunday said picking up cigarette butts, fast-food debris and other litter keeps him busy "all day long."

Lunsford said picking up the litter "is not the solution. The solution is to stop people from throwing it out to start with."

And, going into immediate effect is a program city leaders hope will do just that.

"I’m aware as anyone of the problem of litter," Cervera said.

The idea of having litterbugs pick up trash is nothing new.

As a matter of fact, during a recent trip to New York, he discovered people there pick up litter during the middle of the afternoon. Those crews on the roadside hold up traffic, bringing both awareness of the problem and a little inconvenience to deter others to think before throwing out that hamburger wrapper.

"It’s very disturbing to me," Cervera said, adding visitors’ first impressions are Troy is a "dirty, filthy, unkempt" city.

He is one who is "fully committed" to the city’s anti-litter campaign.

"If the finding of this court is guilt in a litter case, they will be punished," Cervera said.

The municipal judge believes the most effective form of punishment and enforcement is community service.

That community service will include wearing a bright orange "I littered on Troy" vest while picking up litter around town.

But, making a litter case is not easy.

"It is absolutely difficult for the black and white uniformed officers to make a case on litter," Lunsford said.

That’s where the public’s input will help.

"There’s nothing wrong with private citizens making a case," Cervera said.

Any individual who sees someone littering can file an incident report with the Troy Police Department. That person will then have to give a signed deposition before an arrest warrant can be issued.

Lunsford said he is counting on the public’s assistance.

Recently, an individual told him about witnessing someone stop at a red light and dump the contents of an ashtray on the roadway.

Lunsford said the person knew the litterbug, but wouldn’t get involved.

"It will take an extra effort by the private citizens," Lunsford said, adding police officers can’t do it all.

Also, officers are not likely to witness such action since most people will look around for a police cruiser before throwing something out the window.

"There are a lot more eyes with the public than there are with us," Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said.

Even Troy Elementary School students have noticed the problem and started their own anti-litter campaign last year.

Sherry Helms. TES librarian, said she thinks the city’s efforts will help.

"I do think when we start writing tickets it will have an impact," Helms said.

In addition to the efforts by the elementary students, whom Lunsford praised for their efforts, the city does what it can to clean up the mess and will begin forcing trucks carrying trash to have covers or they will not be allowed access to the landfill.

During an amnesty period, truck drivers will be presented cards warning them "driving an uncovered truck is against the law in Troy, Alabama.

"Those are some things we’re going to do to be proactive," Lunsford said.