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Posted: March 2, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Giddens: Not the image we want to project

Joe Cannelongo is a halfback.

That’s a polite way to describe someone of Northern extraction who retired to Florida, but since moved to Savannah, Atlanta or somewhere similar, still in the South, but halfway back to their original stomping grounds.

That’s Joe. He’s from New Jersey and now lives in Covington. He’s a nice guy, and got a good chortle out of the term.

He called me last week. Joe loves Covington.

Joe loves the weather here, his home and his neighborhood off Salem Road.

But Joe hates litter, and there’s a lot of it along Salem Road.

"It’s gotten out of hand," he said Tuesday. "I’ve never seen so much garbage alongside the road."

Joe called in response to my column last week about my effort to pick up trash on Ga. Highway 36. He’s mad and frustrated about the stuff junking up Salem Road, or Ga. Highway 162.

I drove out there Tuesday and checked it out.

He’s right.

Even after storm winds on Monday blew much of the detritus off the right-of-way, ample poundage of waste remained. It looked like someone had changed their car tires on a pull-off and left their worn wheels behind. Beer cans, food containers and a dog food bag lay nearby.

Joe say’s he watched once as someone threw a whole bag of garbage out a car window.

Unbelievable.

The garbage and refuse-strewn highway has given the New Jersey expatriate a poor opinion of us native-born Southerners.

We’re no better than pigs.

I, for one, am ashamed.

It’s time to get things under control.

There are already some good things happening.

State prisoners are cleaning up I-20, and a community service work crew was filling up buckets of trash on Tuesday along Turner Lake Road. I know you guys weren’t doing this by choice, but thank you.

And then there’s M.T. Hodges, who lives near Lake Jackson in Butts County.

He called last week to chat and told me he’s a disabled vet who loves ride his motorcycles and to help folks out.

He also is tired of the litter and did his part, picking up about his neighborhood.

Thanks, Mr. Hodges, and thanks too, Mr. Cannelongo.

You can help, too.

The Great American Clean-up will be held on Saturday, March 26. Learn more by contacting Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful at (770) 784-2015, or see http://www.kcnb.biz/.

They can help you with other programs, including neighborhood cleanups and the Adopt-A-Mile program, too.

It also helps if you let folks know about litter problems. For problems along state highways, call the Department of Transportation at (706) 343-5836. For litter along county roads, call (770) 784-2097.

You can get in touch with us here at The Covington News, too. If we can’t help you out in person, we’ll do our best to get you in contact with someone who can.

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

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