Boy, has garbage been in the air a lot here in Newton County recently.
Well, not physically, but thematically as it seems to be the hot topic around town lately. Let’s take stock of that topic in order to prevent the garbage from, well, physically being in the air.
On Monday, Covington City Council member Hawnethia Williams mentioned in her comments that she has been seeing and hearing complaints on garbage around the west ward of the city.
“Some of the things I see that shows a lack of concern for our community, our neighbors,” Williams said.
Everything from paper bags to furniture (yes, furniture) litters the sides of roads in some areas of Covington and Newton County. We agree that this shows a lack of pride and respect for those dumping the garbage and the other 105,000 of us that live here.
While Williams is trying to fight off trash piles at the neighborhood level in the city of Covington, Newton County’s elected officials are wrestling with a financial mess that is coming out of the county’s landfill.
At the board of commissioners’ recent retreat, Interim County Manager Lloyd Kerr laid out the county’s biggest budget problem quite definitively, saying, “If we set aside the landfill, we would be okay on the budget.”
Newton County’s taxpayers could see a bill as high as $20 million just from the landfill alone. The county also spends a large sum of money on its 11 convenience centers, which allow Newton County residents to drop off waste for free.
That is not something to take lightly.
Why then when presented with a trash bill that is so serious, would people be so nonchalant about tossing that trash out the window? That makes Newton’s littering problem not only disrespectful but fiscally irresponsible. To keep the streets free of garbage, city and county workers are called upon to clean up byways and highways. Their work does not come free, and when they are pulled off their primary responsibilities, the cost is passed on to all taxpayers. Remember the 5.52 tons of garbage that were illegally dumped outside of the neighborhood recycling centers after Christmas?
We are just in the beginning stages of spring, a perfect time for spring cleaning.
Let’s not only remove the clutter and trash from our homes, but also take a minute to do so from our home town.
Put an end to littering Newton County. Better yet, volunteer like the fine folks who participated in March 19 Great American Cleanup and pick up some extra trash yourself. County-wide trash days can be organized and we can all gather to pick up the couches, tables, drinking cups and other litter that has caused council member Williams and so many others to be justifiably upset. Some other towns have city-wide spring cleanup days that could easily be adopted and become a great asset here in Newton County.
Then, when we demand accountability from our local governments as they deal with cleaning up the mess that is Newton County’s landfill, we know we have at least cleared the way for the county to address the issue directly.
Webster defines garbage as “a thing that is considered worthless or meaningless.” If we continue to kick the can of trash out of our car windows and kick the can of the landfill’s financial problems down the road, than we are declaring Newton County worthless and meaningless.
It’s time to put a stop to that.