Carroll County officials are growing more concerned with the increasing amount of litter along and off roads, and the cost of cleaning it up.
The Sheriff’s Office has been publicly posting the amount of trash collected each month, and the numbers have grown. On Sunday the Sheriff’s Office reported that its inmate work detail picked up six appliances, 14 pieces of furniture, 15 mattresses, 421 tires and 2,865 bags of trash in February.
That’s a significant increase from January when 2,074 bags of trash were collected along with seven mattresses, eight appliances and eight pieces of furniture.
Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brad Robinson said county jail inmates have been at work tackling areas with high volume of trash. When deputies are out in the county, they will call in to report areas that have trash, with work details sent to clean those areas.
“I guess for someone to live here and throw out trash from their vehicle, to me, is disrespectful to the area and the community,” Robinson said. “We all share the community. It makes me wonder what kind of living conditions these people who litter live in at home.”
Robinson said there have been countless times that Sheriff Terry Langley has called Robinson to report how certain roads look with the amount of litter, and to request a crew to clean it up.
“When you go through a location as you’re traveling and notice clean and well-groomed roads, it gives you an impression of what the community is like,” Robinson said. “It is the same here. If there is an area with lots of trash in the ditches, the visitors make an impression off of that.”
Robinson said that there are fines for those who are caught littering. Some areas have fines set at $300 but Robinson said there are some roads in the county where the fine can be as much as $1,000 if you are caught dumping. Robinson admires Keep Carroll Beautiful and the work that Charles Pope, superintendent of the county’s Public Works Department, has done with the community.
“Pope has been instrumental in taking these tires that are collected and actually taking them to be recycled,” Robinson said. “He takes them to a place in Jackson, Georgia. Pope is certainly a team player in Carroll County but just recycling those tires with money out of the budget, he is remarkable.”
Pope said the county does have a problem with people littering — and it is bad.
“The tires picked up go to Quality Tires Recycling in Jackson, Georgia,” said Pope. “It cost us about $90 per ton to dispose of and the facility is an EPD-certified recycling facility.”
Pope said one ton of tires is about 100 passenger car tires.
“We carry about eight to ten loads a year to Jackson to recycle the tires and it is costing us about $1,300 a load to get rid of them so with that being said, we are pushing close to $10,000 a year just to dispose of tires here in Carroll County,” he said.
Pope said tires are the most expensive item the county must recycle because if they are not disposed of properly other problems arise.
“If the tires are not picked up and disposed of they become a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” he said. “The tires will collect and trap water and it creates a mosquito problem.”
Pope said it costs about $1.75 to dispose of a tire that the Carroll County Solid Waste accepts now. Pope said that regular car tires cost $5 to recycle and they will be disposed of for the resident.
“Keep Carroll Beautiful provides us through one of their auxiliary groups and we get a huge discount by going through that route,” said Carroll County Board of Commissioners Chairman Marty Smith. “We do a lot through Keep Carroll Beautiful and like the Sheriff’s Office we send crews out as well.”
Smith said that even with working within collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office, the Solid Waste Department and Keep Carroll Beautiful, it is still unfortunate to see so much litter that causes the county to divert funds and revenue to handle the waste.
“People should take more pride and care in themselves and their community,” he said. “Because it does affect community development and our economic development when we have visitors, and it can change someone’s mind if they want to bring their families or business here — but they see the litter.”
Smith said it is a continuous battle but that the county plans to “educate and communicate.” Smith said that with the LitterBug Hotline billboard that Keep Carroll Beautiful has published around the county, residents can take matters into their own hands and report the tag number of a vehicle that dumped trash, and have them prosecuted.
“We are going to do what we can,” Smith said. “We will continue to work with the Sheriff’s Office and our employees in continuing cleaning up the trash that is here in Carroll County.”