County litter emphasis coming in April

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The Walker County Commission announced Tuesday its annual litter emphasis will be held throughout April, with Saturday, April 4, currently being looked at as a day-long event. 

A decision on the exact day is expected at a later meeting, possibly as early as the March 2 meeting. Commissioners were being given time to look at their calendars.

Alabama PALS (alpals.org), the statewide anti-litter group, has announced its Don't Drop It On Alabama statewide spring cleanup will be held throughout April. Large trash bags, ad slicks, reporting forms, safety tip sheets, window deals, recycling bags, and PALS brochures are available for cleanups throughout the state. 

Among a number of sponsors for the statewide event is the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, which the commission belongs to, and the Alabama Department of Transportation. 

Jerry Bishop, chairman of the commission, said at Tuesday's commission meeting the county has held local cleanups. "This has been a pet thing with me. I can't stand litter and garbage," he said. 

Correction officers in the county are now involved in litter pickups throughout the county, he said, noting it has helped the county. 

"I don't think we're winning the battle against litter, but we've come a long way," he said. "As a war, we've won a few battles."

He pointed out Janet Adams-Clayton, the human resources coordinator and a payroll official with the commission office, will continue to spearhead efforts on the cleanup, as she has in past years. County Administrator Robbie Dickerson will also help in the effort, Bishop said. 

"We would like to have one individual from each district" to help in the organization of this year's emphasis. 

He said the litter pick up needs to start soon, as he said county mowers will soon be on the sides of roadsides, which could lead to litter being chopped up, making an even harder mess to clean up. Clayton suggested having the emphasis day earlier in April, as one might not see the litter as well if the grass starts growing. 

Last year the day event was held on April 28, which had some mixed results. Many events went on, but officials had hoped for more than the 125 people who turned out that day. Jasper also held some cleanup events that day. 

Clayton said she thanked district crews who are helping with cleanups. She said there are suggestions about going into the schools to have an anti-litter slideshow presentation to students in grades 3-5. It is not known yet if the annual art contest will be done in the schools, but she feels it will take place. 

"I think it is a fantastic program," District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis said, thanking Clayton for her work. "But again, this is a systematic problem." He said the commission also needs to start working in the schools to educate students.

He said in his district 1,600 bags of litter have been collected since October, which he said shows how much litter is on the sides of roads, much of it from fast-food restaurants and convenience stores. 

"Again, just remind the people, don't throw it out. If somebody sees you throwing it out, our sheriff is going to write you a ticket. If you illegally dump, they are finding names," he said. A number of names have already been obtained for some local illegal dumps.

Bishop also said he wants the public to understand that correction officers who are paid to help with litter clean up are reimbursed by the Solid Waste Department so that the cost is not endured by the sheriff's office. 

To volunteer for the day-long event once it is announced, one should contact their district office or come Saturday morning. The phone numbers are, for District 1, 205-221-4212; District 2, 205-924-4131; District 3, 205-686-7116; and District 4, 205-648-9583. They may also call Clayton at the commission office at 205-384-7230.