Litter bugs post roadside ‘billboards’

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 20, 2001

Features Editor

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s true for people and it’s also true for communities.

So, many residents are concerned about the impression Pike County is making on visitors, with its littered highways and byways, and the negative impact litter bugs are having on its own residents.

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Getting bit by the litter bug is not physically painful, but it’s painfully irritating, said Joe Frank Walters of Troy.

For some time, Walters has been concerned about the litter problem countywide, but especially along the stretch of the Henderson Highway from Highway 231 to Meadow Grove.

"It’s unsightly, in fact, it’s plain ugly," Walters said of the litter-strewn highway. "It’s an embarrassment to our town to have the highway to the Industrial Park look like a garbage dump. There’s litter on both sides of the road – all the time. And when the roadside is bush hogged, the litter is cut into thousands of pieces. It looks absolutely terrible."

Although Walters lives in town, he has property in the area and makes the drive to his property almost every day.

Rather than the drive being a pleasant one, it becomes a source of irritation and frustration.

"What I don’t understand is how people can throw litter on the highway

and then I don’t understand why they are allowed to do it," he said. "We have litter laws, and I know they might be difficult to enforce, but if a few people would be fined, a lot of people would get the message."

Walters said the litter problem along the Henderson Highway is two-fold.

"Some of the litter is probably thrown from cars because it’s food wrappers, sacks, bottles, cigarette packs – small pieces of trash," he said. "However, there are a lot of boxes and large items that probably blew off trucks that were hauling trash to one of the dumps.

"This morning there was a mattress on the side of the road. Either someone threw it there or it blew off a truck and no one bothered to stop and pick it up."

Walters said he wonders what people from the outside would think if they drove by and saw a mattress littering the roadside.

"There used to be signs welcoming people to Troy – the City Beautiful," he said. "Well, it’s not beautiful anymore."

Walters said after the roadsides are mowed, a crew of inmates will eventually pick up the trash that is uncovered, chipped and revealed to the world.

"They pick it up one day and the next day it’s littered again. The businesses and the homeowners seem to try to keep the litter picked up in front of their property, but they shouldn’t have to do that. It’s not right for someone to throw out trash for someone else to have to pick up."

Walters said he doesn’t have any answer for keeping litter off the highways except enforcement of the law.

The only thing that seems to get people’s attention is when they have to pull out their wallets.

Walters said a litter-free community sends a positive message to potential business people and to those looking for a place to put down roots.

Right now,

Pike County’s roadside "billboards" aren’t very inviting.

"Other states don’t have litter problems like we do," Walters said. "We’re hurting ourselves, our community and our county."

But, that’s just what litter bugs do.