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Don#039;t mess with Alabama roads

A drive along our rural roads and some streets in town will show you that many folks pay no heed to the

"Don't Drop It On Alabama" anti-littering slogan.

You'll see cans, bottles, a lot of paper, much of it from our fast-food restaurants, and such discarded household items as recliners, mattresses, water heaters and ironing boards.

Some people just don't care.

Maybe we have seen it so much that we've grown used to it.

Those new to the area, however, are very aware of the litter and it doesn't give a good message about the people who live here.

This is not only a quality of life issue, it is an economic development problem.

Businesses and individuals are not interested in locating in an unsightly area.

As badly as we need new jobs, we should be doing all we can to remedy the litter problem.

The use of county inmates to pick up litter is helping, especially in reducing illegal dumpsites.

Of course, if it weren't thrown out in the first place, it wouldn't have to be picked up!

Is it a lack of education?

Who litters our roads and countrysides anyway?

According to a 31-state survey conducted by the Institute for Applied Research:

* 1/2 of litter is deliberate and 1/2 is caused by materials being "accidentally" lost from vehicles.

* Males do 72% of deliberate littering and are responsible for 96% of accidental littering.

* 1 or more persons accompanied 69% of deliberate litterers.

* 60% of deliberate littering is done by pedestrians and 40% is done by motorists (I'm not sure that this is the case in our county).

Alabama has good litter laws.

The problem is one of enforcement.

And the littering doesn't necessarily have to be witnessed.

Quoting from the amendment made to the litter law by our legislature in 1998 "-items found in an accumulation of garbage, trash or other discarded material including, but not limited to, bank statements, utility bills, bank card bills, and other financial documents, clearly bearing the name of a person shall constitute a rebuttable presumption that the person whose name appears thereon knowingly deposited the litter.

Advertising, marketing, and campaign materials and literature shall not be sufficient to constitute a rebuttable presumption of criminal littering-".

It is up to law enforcement officials to build a case and it is up to the judge to hear it and act on the evidence.

In areas of Alabama where both law enforcement departments and judges are strongly committed to doing something about litter, the problem has been greatly reduced.

Last week, Extension facilitated a meeting to discuss forming a Butler county chapter of People Against a Littered State (Alabama PALS).

PALS has many anti-litter programs including Adopt-A-Mile, Adopt-A-Stream, Adopt-An-Area and Clean Campus.

They sponsor an annual state- wide "Spring Clean-up" and publish a Litter Education Activity Guide.

Pals will furnish bags for any school or community clean-up effort.

Thanks to PALS efforts, the Alabama Department of Transportation now furnishes Adopt-A-Mile signs free for county roads (they have always been free for state or federal highways).

Anyone interested in the Adopt-A-Mile or Adopt-An-Area programs may contact me.

We plan to meet again soon to organize the Butler County chapter of Alabama Pals (I will announce the date and time in this paper).

Working together, I believe we can have a positive impact on our litter problem.