Litter a concern for local leaders

Published 11:18 am Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A study from a Texas State University professor ranked Alabama low on keeping litter off its highways, but locally, efforts are being made.

“I think it’s a problem. I feel like the city as a whole is concerned about it, and we’re working to do our part,” said Meredith McClendon, coordinator of Troy’s Anti-litter Committee.

The group, started in 2001, consists of around 10 to 15 members, who participate in monthly district cleanups in the city of Troy, McClendon said.

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But this committee is not the only way the city’s working to keep the streets clean.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said the city employees work to pick up trash when they can, officers monitor litter and issue tickets and awareness is spread in local school systems.

And despite these efforts, Lunsford said litter is a big concern within the city and across the state.

“When I travel the back roads, I see a lot of litter, and I don’t really like that,” Lunsford said. “We have a great deal of it, and as much as we work to try to resolve it, you can still see lots of areas where people totally disregard. I feel like as a state, county and city, enough hasn’t been done to work with and try to improve the problem.”

Lunsford said litter doesn’t just affect the environment and appearance of Troy, but it also has a financial impact.

“It costs us money having to get out and pick up stuff on the side of the road, and if we don’t try to keep it picked up, it can impact people coming to our city,” Lunsford said.

Within the county, Pike County Commission Chairman Robin Sullivan said litter is a big concern.

“That’s something we’ve been talking about for four years, but without more legislation from the state, there’s not a whole lot we can do to prosecute,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said commissioners have participated in cleanups to try to do what they can to alleviate the problem.

“There’s no stopping somebody riding down the road and throwing their trash out,” Sullivan said. “We’ve done the few things we can do to help.”

Troy Police Spokesman Sgt. Benny Scarbrough said local officers work to enforce litter control where possible.

“When we see them litter, we certainly write them a citation, and they can be charged under a local citation or state violation,” Scarbrough said. “A person who litters can be held accountable, and action can be taken against them in court.”

Scarbrough said a person can be charged between $100 and $500, depending on how many litter offenses they have, or they could be ordered to clean up litter off the streets.

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said a solid waste enforcement officer works to prosecute illegal dumping.

“We go on a case-by-case basis to determine what exactly to do and what can be done,” Thomas said.