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Posted: February 23, 2011 3:47 a.m.

Giddens: It’s up to us all to eliminate litter

My haul was 15 pounds.

On Monday I picked up trash for a half hour along a 50-yard stretch of Ga. Highway 36. Here’s what I got:

- Assorted chip bags and juice and soda bottles, foam food containers and bags from fast food outlets.

- Enough beer cans and malt liquor bottles to make me question the sobriety of half the drivers on the road.

- Four gloves, none that matched, along with a T-shirt and a towel.

- An inch-square photo of a teen, her name penciled on the back.

- A scrawled telephone number on a scrap of paper, near a notice of delinquency in child support payments and a mail-in subscription card for a pornographic magazine.

It was disgusting.

My clothes reeked of refuse and my car smelled like a sidewalk in front of a bar in downtown Athens on a Sunday morning.

But hopefully, it made a small difference.

The litter situation is out of hand in Newton County, and it’s up to each of us to get it under control.

Just ask Karen Key of Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful.

"I know they didn’t dump it," she said Tuesday. "But if everyone would just clean up in front of their own home, it would make a huge difference."

Indeed.

Even if you pick up after yourself, maybe it’s time to take that extra step and pick up a scrap or so of other debris, too.

I picked up down from a church cemetery and up from a subdivision entrance. Those properties were mostly clean, but with a bit more exertion, a bit more of right-of-way could have been litter-free. School grounds along the road were clean, but litter was piled up in bushes across the street from one.

The litter situation is worse than ever in the county.

Extreme cold and the snow and ice kept crews off of clean-up duty, and there are fewer crews available for the duty.

Key notes that budget cutbacks means fewer litter patrols.

The sheriff’s office needs to have at least one deputy to oversee four inmates on litter patrol and just can’t afford the guards.

And Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful is down to one part-time worker, Key.

So it’s up to us.

Key has some suggestions. Your group or even your family can participate in the Adopt-a-Mile program, agreeing to clean up a mile stretch or roadway at least four times a year.

You can also hold a neighborhood cleanup. Key’s group will supply gloves and bags.

You can also take part in the Great American Clean-up on Saturday, March 26.

Learn more by calling (770) 784-2015, or see http://www.kcnb.biz/.

There’s more you can do.

If you know of a particularly littered stretch of road, report it. If it’s a county road, call (770) 784-2097. If it’s a state highway, call the Department of Transportation at (706) 343-5836.

You can call Key and report litter, but she say’s it’s more effective when you make the call yourself.

"It makes a difference when a citizen calls."

Tharon Giddens is editor of The Covington News. Reach him at (678) 750-5011 or at tgiddens@covnews.com.

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