County faces recurring littering problem

Published 4:40 pm Friday, March 17, 2017

For many travelers along I-65 and beyond, Greenville and its neighboring towns serve as a nexus from one destination to the next.

But for Joey Peavy, Butler County commissioner presiding over District 1, its roadways have instead only showcased one of the county’s biggest recurring problems.

“Littering is a terrible problem,” Peavy said.  “Our roadways are littered from one end to the other.  It’s a terrible eyesore.  It looks bad when we have people coming through the county just traveling for vacation.  It’s a terrible, terrible situation to me.”

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Peavy added that the littering problem tends to escalate during the tax return season, with old appliances, furniture and other household goods being dumped in numerous county right-of-ways.

And though he added that the heaviest concentration of littering seems to be confined to the county’s most rural areas, he also said that there isn’t one particular region of the county that’s immune to the issue.

“County Road 50 going towards Honoraville was really bad a few weeks ago,” Peavy said. “County Road 38, which runs from Highway 10 to the Monroe County line, was in terrible shape.  Stinson Road and Highway 16… you name it.”

According to Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code. § 13A-7-29,  criminal littering carries a $250 fine for a first conviction, and any subsequent convictions will bear a $500 price tag.

However, it’s a fine that oftentimes proves difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.

“The thing about littering is that our deputies have to see you do it, or a private citizen would have to see you do it and be willing to swear out a warrant,” Peavy said.

Littering proves not only costly to perpetrators, but also to the county (and ultimately taxpayers), as well.

“When I see how much it costs us to supply inmates, or to pay correctional officers to be out there, and supplying vehicles and trailers… when you see what it costs taxpayers, that’s really when you say ‘just hold the trash until you get home,’” Peavy said.

To that end, the Butler County Commission has designated an upcoming week in April Don’t Drop It on Alabama spring cleanup week.

Trash bags will be provided to individuals or groups who agree to clean up a neighborhood or stretch of roadway, and the necessary equipment will be available at the Butler County Road Department or the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Peavy added that the program is an easy way for citizens to make a meaningful change for the better here in Butler County.

“We’ll supply the garbage bags and you arrange with the sheriff what area you’re going to pick up at,” Peavy said.

“You pick the stuff up, leave the bags there and we come back and pick it up to take to the landfill.  You don’t have to haul it yourself; you just pick it up, bag it for us and let us know your route and what day you’re going to do it.  It’s just a great opportunity for community, youth and civic groups. It’s really encouraging to see young people taking initiative in it.”

Peavy said that it was ultimately a matter of having pride in one’s county that determined how well its citizens maintained it.

“Either you have it or you don’t,” Peavy said.

“We need to keep our county looking nice because we have people coming through all the time.  And you only get one time to make a first impression. And when people who’ve never come through our county before see trash from one end to the other, that doesn’t make a good first impression.”