Pandemic hasn’t stopped all efforts to pick up roadside trash

				                                Over the weekend, inmates were seen collecting rubbish from streets.  An inmate is shown removing rubbish along the mountain.  Olive Church Road in Lumberton.  Photo courtesy |  Robeson County Sheriff's Office

Over the weekend, inmates were seen collecting rubbish from streets. An inmate is shown removing rubbish along the mountain. Olive Church Road in Lumberton.

Photo courtesy | Robeson County Sheriff’s Office

LUMBERTON – The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office has once again enabled inmates to help the county residents clear the area’s streets as some residents continue to attempt to clear roadside trash.

“[W]We had the program on hold for the past six months, but in the conditions I see across the country, we can’t sit back and let COVID hold us back, ”Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins said in an am Statement published Tuesday.

“Inmates are outside, wearing gloves and boots, and using hand tools to aid their efforts,” he said.

At the weekend, inmates were seen liberating the section of the mountain. Olive Church Road to Rennert Road of Litter. Seventy-eight garbage bags were collected next to the mountain on Saturday. Olive Church Road, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

By the weekend was over, inmates had collected a total of 159 bags, including from areas on Ivey Road and Moore’s Lane in Lumberton, Wilkins said.

The Sheriff’s Office issued a statement calling on the county’s residents to clear the county’s roadsides of rubbish.

“Please do your part and let’s clean up this county as soon as possible. Safely gather friends, civic groups and other volunteers, social distancing, wear masks and gloves, and start your community efforts. We will continue to do what we can, but there is absolutely no way a group of 5 inmates can clean up this entire county. Our office, which includes MPs, detention officers and civilian personnel, is planning to volunteer to clean up some areas soon. If we can do it, so can you, ”the statement said.

Pembroke residents like 48-year-old Giovanni Selles and 63-year-old Garci Locklear were spotted cleaning the sides of McMillian Road on Tuesday afternoon.

Locklear has been speaking to others for the past two weeks to help clean up their community. She reached out to community members for help after seeing her niece and nephew collect trash Tuesday.

“I said, ‘You stay here, I’ll bring people to help you,'” Locklear said.

Selles answered. He brought supplies such as vests and bags to the group of 12 members of the community, including Selles and Locklear.

Selles has lived on McMillian Road for about 12 years.

“It’s really bad out here and other places in Robeson County, so we’re going to have this fight and keep this area clean,” Selles said.

“It takes a unified effort to do something like this,” said Locklear. “We all have to get involved to beautify our area.”

Rob Price, who serves as Rowland’s town attorney, continues his efforts to clean up the roadsides of Lumberton that he began in 2019. Since its inception, Price has picked up more than 500 trash bags.

“I’m trying to pick up everything from Exit 17 to Exit 22 on the side of Interstate (Interstate 95) and the side street (Kahn Drive),” said the 66-year-old Lumberton resident.

He also tries to clear the back roads between the garbage outlets.

The award came into effect after a junk-strewn intersection was seen in Parkton in the spring of 2019.

“I decided I just couldn’t take it anymore,” he said. “I have to do something about it.”

He remembered picking up 24 garbage bags from this area. Price later moved his efforts to Lumberton.

His anti-litter efforts have earned him gratitude from passing motorists and the county sheriff’s office, Price said.

If every company sponsored clearing areas within 30 meters of their doors or driveways with trash, they would make a difference in keeping Lumberton clean, he said.

Cities like Red Springs and Maxton are asking the public for help clearing up roadside trash.

“We only need help because we currently have very few employees due to COVID-19,” said David Ashburn, Red Springs City Administrator.

COVID-19 has stopped aid from state prison inmates and staff from the Lumber River Council of Governments.

In the city, about five parishioners came to town hall last month to ask for supplies to clean their areas, Ashburn said. He plans to include a flyer on the next electricity bill to get more help.

“We’ll officially start this with our next electric bill,” said Ashburn.

Maxton’s interim city manager Angela Pitchford met with public works and sewage directors this week to discuss the city’s waste problem, she said. This week marked the start of efforts to monitor areas in the city that are dumped a lot.

“They’re starting to throw away furniture and other things too,” Pitchford said.

She plans to look into penalties for violations and might consider speaking to commissioners about drafting a regulation specifically for garbage, Pitchford said.

“That’s something we’re going to look into,” she said.

North Carolina law has fines for trash ranging from $ 250 to $ 1,000.

“Willful waste of 15 pounds or less is a Class 3 misdemeanor that can be punished with a fine of $ 250 to $ 1,000 and up to 24 hours of community service,” according to the State Department of Transportation.

Robina Locklear-Cummings, assistant director of Solid Waste, said Robeson County Solid Waste saw its waste cards increase by 33% from 2019 to 2020.

“The convenience locations for solid waste continue to generate unprecedented amounts of waste at the locations. However, we have increased the number of employees and changed our routes to be more efficient and effective, ”she said.

“When garbage is brought to the landfill from different locations, it is identified by type and occasionally by location. However, the waste brought in and actually identified as street litter has actually decreased. This is mainly due to the lack of manpower available for collection, ”she added.

The county has plans to reduce waste.

“Our plan is that once our numbers (COVID-19 cases in the county) go down and we feel safe, we will start or kick-start our clean and green program,” said Faline Dial, Chair of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners and Member of the Robeson County Clean and Green Committee.

She hopes the committee will operate by spring if the COVID-19 numbers allow.

The committee has not met since February 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions, she said. Dial encourages family members who live together to pick up trash in their communities. Those who wish can contact the county solid waste department for advice and assistance.

Robeson County Commissioner David Edge is hoping to revitalize and launch Project Trash Talk, a week-long curriculum designed to educate elementary school children about the issue of trash during Earth Day week, which will be in April. The curriculum did not reach students in 2020 because of the pandemic.

“I hope we can do it this year,” said Edge, who took the lead in developing the curriculum.

He plans to meet with PSRC superintendent Freddie Williamson to discuss launching the program, Edge said. A date has not been set for this meeting.

Edge and community members have posted eight signs on Barker Ten Mile Road to reduce litter. The signs read messages like “This is our street, please don’t throw it away” and “If in doubt, don’t throw it away.”

He has received positive feedback from the signage. Some members of the community said they have seen improvements since the signs were placed in 2020, Edge said.

The Commissioner’s message about trash in the county is simple.

“Just don’t do it,” said Edge.

Anyone interested in volunteering for roadside rubbish collection can call Robeson County Solid Waste at 910-865-3348. When you’re done, volunteers can contact NCDOT to arrange a collection of the filled garbage bags, or the bags can be dropped off at one of the county’s solid waste locations.

“We encourage groups and individuals to provide as much assistance as possible with picking up waste while we try to be as safe as possible,” said Locklear-Cummings.

Reach Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or email at [email protected]

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