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Berkeley Co. asks kids to prevent, clean up litter

April 22, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - In what is almost a rite of the spring season, the assorted junk and tattered shreds of paper that have been discarded over the winter months are drawing more attention.

To help combat the litter problem, Berkeley County is turning to some of its youngest citizens for help.

The Project Pride campaign next week will use Berkeley County elementary school classrooms to educate children about recycling and litter.

A joint effort between Berkeley County Schools and the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce, the five-day project is aimed at getting about 6,000 elementary students to work with their parents on anti-litter activities.

"All of us could work a little harder to keep this place clean," said Chamber President Max Oates Jr.

Berkeley County Commissioner Robert Burkhart agrees that talking with youngsters about litter can cut down on future problems.

"If we can educate kids not to litter then hopefully they can educate their parents," said Burkhart.

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While the "Project Pride" banner strung across King Street this week has drawn heightened attention to litter this year, the topic is not a new one for Berkeley County.

"Every spring it seems like litter becomes an issue. It seems to accumulate all winter long," said Berkeley County Commission President D. Wayne Dunham.

This year the problem seems worse than it has in the past, said County Commissioner John Wright.

"It's an embarrassment. I don't understand the mentality of the people who do this," Wright said.

With no mandatory trash pickup in the county, litter seems to be a bigger issue for Berkeley County than it does the City of Martinsburg.

The city makes garbage hauling and curbside recycling mandatory for residents and uses city workers to sweep streets and sidewalks, said City Manager Mark Baldwin.

Martinsburg has also benefited from City Councilman Glenville Twigg's annual spring cleanup event, said Baldwin.

Set this year for May 22, the event dispatches volunteers to pick up trash in various parts of the city, including parks, neighborhoods and along Tuscarora Creek.

The city provides bags and gloves for the day and relies on citizens and businesses to donate a few hours out of the weekend.

"Every community has litter, but we're fairly clean," Baldwin said.

Despite Wright's contention the county's litter problem has worsened, Burkhart said he does not think Berkeley County has a bigger problem than other areas.

The county has had some success with its Adopt-a-Road litter program, but Burkhart said the county can't force residents to use mandatory trash pickup without changes in the state law.

"We notice (litter) more because we live here," he said. "Litter has always been, and unfortunately, it will always be."

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