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Stop trashing our roadsides

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By Alice Du Pont

If our roadsides are littered with trash, it's mostly us who's doing it. No one is sneaking into the county at night and throwing old washing machines, refrigerators and household garbage on roadsides. When Robert Presnell informed Gadsden County commissioners it's costing the taxpayers $1 million a year. That is money we are thowing away. Just think of what this county could do with a million dollars.

If we had money back that has been spent picking up trash and garbage we would have money in the budget to keep our backs off the financial wall for a while. The sad part is that some of our elected officials take great pride in announcing, to any and all who will listen, that we're a poor, financially-strapped county.

They need to use that same fervor and energy they use to talk negatively to encourage people to stop trashing the community and turning our beautiful roadsides into dumps. I won't say that 100 percent of the trash comes from our citizens, but at least 95 percent of it can be traced back to folks who have a Gadsden County address.

Last week I decided to test out Presnell's information. Before I went to his office on High Bridge Road, I rode around several back roads and there was trash, trash, trash on every single road. In one particular spot there was enough trash to fill the flatbed of a pickup truck and a 10-foot trailer. Just down the road, where there was a clearly-posted sign warning against dumping and explaining the penalties, someone had discarded a large cooler and other trash less than a foot from the sign.

In addition to the sofas, comforters, a microwave and various other items, a ditch directly across the street from a house on a rural road was piled high with items that appeared to be taken from the home.

There were two plastic bags of paper also dumped. Rummaging through one of the bags I was able to find the name and address of an individual. I decided against trying to locate the person to find out if they thought it was OK to dump.

But I asked several people randomly what they thought about dumping. One woman said she thought if you had a lot of stuff to dump, it was OK to put it on the side of the road if you lived in the county. She thought there were people whose job it is to pick up trash. She was honestly unaware that citizens are responsible for taking their own trash to the landfill. In fact, she has a sticker for household garbage but didn't know the location of the landfill.

Unfortunately, she is the rule rather than the exception. Maybe the county can embark, when they can afford it, on an education campaign. It would cost less that a million bucks.