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Commission asked to support program to combat roadside litter

April 05, 2002|BY SARAH MULLIN

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County man went before the Berkeley County Commission Thursday to request its support in the organization of a committee that will combat roadside litter.

Bill Stubblefield, also a member of the Berkeley County Public Service Water District Board, said the problem of dealing with roadside litter is complex and has been dealt with in the past on an individual basis by local volunteers and organizations.

He told the commission he has approached several people in the community about the idea of forming a group that will make a coordinated and aggressive effort to do something about the litter along roads.

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Commissioner Robert Burkhart said efforts to deal with litter in the past were not as successful as hoped.

He said the county placed dumpsters along roads with the belief that people were littering because they had nowhere else to put their trash.

People stopped paying their garbage service fees and started putting their trash in the dumpsters, he said.

"Today I am just looking for your endorsement," Stubblefield said. "I realize it is a complicated effort that has had mixed results in the past. There is no large magic bullet, but a bunch of small magic bullets can make a dent."

Stubblefield said he wants to take a multi-pronged approach to the problem and deal with long-term solutions.

"It needs to be a year-round effort rather than something that happens three to four times a year," he said.

"It is time to get bitter on litter," Commissioner John Wright said. "It's generational. If you go as far as 20 miles into Pennsylvania and Maryland the roads are clear. There's a mentality that you don't do this. You come 20 miles this way and it's trash, trash, trash."

"You would be surprised the number of people from other states that come here and dump their trash," Burkhart said, adding he caught someone from Maryland discarding a trunkload of trash in the county.

He gave the man three options: "Go clean it up, go to jail or whip me," he said.

Burkhart cautioned that volunteer efforts tend to dissipate after a period of time.

"I don't mean to be pessimistic, don't get me wrong . . . Everybody gets on board, but when it comes to picking up trash they want somebody else to do it . . . In six to eight months, if you had 30 volunteers, you'll have three," he said.

Stubblefield said volunteers play an important role, but are only part of the solution.

Burkhart said he favors the idea of prisoners from the Eastern Regional Jail picking up trash. The county is looking into liability and insurance issues surrounding such a program.

"There are a lot of good and useful suggestions, but each one in a vacuum is only able to nibble at the problem. We want to look at the issue in total," Stubblefield said.

Stubblefield said he waited until he had approval from the commission before attempting to schedule a date, time and location for the first meeting.

"The intent is to try to get as many people as possible together and that group will decide what to do next. There will probably be a smaller group working for that larger group that will formulate a plan to deal with litter," he said.

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