Sheriff’s Office takes over litter cleanup
It’s a dirty job. But Rodney Waters is ready for it.
“If anybody can get it done, Rodney can,” said Lumpkin County Commissioner Bobby Mayfield last week.
And that task at hand is tackling the mounting litter problem on local roadways as Waters takes over as the work detail supervisor over trash cleanup at the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office.
The newly created position officially went into effect on Monday when Waters and a team of local inmate trustees hit the streets of Lumpkin County in search of trash-prone problem areas.
Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said it’s an idea whose time has come.
“It was a position here back in the 80s and 90s and early 2000s,” he said. “But when the budget crunch came in 2010 it was one of the positions that sort of consolidated into the county road department. But with all the details they do it was kind of hard to do that. So the commissioners and I met a few months back and had discussed this coming budget cycle that I would be interested in taking it back.”
‘A GOOD START’
The trash detail crew will work Monday-to-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., as they target local litter throughout Lumpkin.
Commissioner Jeff Moran said it’s a great way to help fix a problem that he and his colleagues hear about frequently.
“This is a huge step towards solving that problem,” he said. “What we’ve hung our hat on in the county is tourism and the tax dollars we get from tourism. If it’s not pretty and clean you don’t want to drive through it on the way to the winery.”
Mayfield agreed that something needs to be done.
‘It’s kind of seasonal,” he said. “When everything’s green and growing you don’t see it but when everything dies down it’s still there, you get a lot of the complaints during the winter.”
Now those with complaints are encouraged to call the county with reports of any problem areas on county roads.
That should be the easy part, as the mere mention of the program on the LCSO Facebook page resulted in a flood of responses and litter-related requests.
“It’s probably about 80 complaints on 35 to 50 roads,” said Waters. “That’s the beginning of it. We’ve got a list to start with for a good start.”
TRASH DETAIL INSTEAD OF JAIL
Jarrard is also hoping the program will result in a rethinking of the way probation violations are handled in the local court system.
“I’ve talked to the Department of Community Services and whenever people violate their probation instead of sentencing them to jail time they could be sentenced to trash detail,” he said. “…We won’t have to feed them and we won’t have to house them…. It will be done Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it will be a savings to the county and consequences to those who violate probation who have to pick up trash.”
Commissioners cautioned that this is only part of the solution to a growing trash problem that has resulted in littered roadways across the county.
Anti-litter educational programs and enforcement of littering laws have to go along side of it, said Moran.
“It just can’t all fall on the trash detail or you’re just giving people license to litter and then we’ll pick it up,” he said.” It has to be multifaceted.”
The newly installed litter patrol truck is now on the move as it was recently fitted with a steel cage and flashing lights.
Jarrard estimates that the trash team will be able to whittle down their current list of problem spots within a few weeks and will soon be searching for more.
To report any problem areas, residents can contact the sheriff’s office at (706) 864-0414 or visit the Roadside Litter Removal Request link at lumpkincounty.gov.
“I look forward to it being a success so we can get the road back to looking good,” said Jarrard.
Meanwhile, Waters said he is looking forward to getting out there and making a difference on Lumpkin County’s roadways.
“I enjoy cleaning the county up,” he said with a nod. “I live in this county also. I’m just real fortunate to be here to help.”
In other words, Waters is ready to take out the trash.