City con­sid­ers tar­get­ing high lit­ter ar­eas

El Dorado News-Times - - Front Page - By Tia Lyons Staff Writer

Keep El Do­rado Beau­ti­ful is con­sid­er­ing a sug­ges­tion to ham­mer home its mes­sage on lit­ter­ing, re­cy­cling and beau­ti­fi­ca­tion by fo­cus­ing on those who fla­grantly ig­nore it.

Dur­ing a meet­ing ear­lier this week, Mayor Frank Hash called on KEB to con­duct some “foren­sic” work to weed out the big­gest of­fend­ers of lit­ter­ing and the ar­eas they tar­get most.

“Do we do any foren­sics on what ends up in the ditch and on the street? I’d like to see us spend more time on who’s do­ing it,” Hash said. “One thing we can do is an­a­lyze the sit­u­a­tion and try to pin­point where it’s com­ing from and at­tack the most likely source.”

“Like, when we clean up, do we pay at­ten­tion to what we’re col­lect­ing?” asked KEB mem­ber Dan Roblee.

KEB mem­bers said one of the main lit­ter prob­lems they en­counter are drivers throw­ing out bags

and con­tain­ers from fast food restau­rants.

“Are there any par­tic­u­lar age groups? Is it chil­dren? Is it adults? I know peo­ple are driv­ing, and I see a lot of a beer bot­tles and beer cans, so I don’t think it’s chil­dren,” Hash said.

As an ex­am­ple, the group pointed to the area in a curve be­hind Washin­gon Mid­dle School — which has long been iden­ti­fied as a hot-spot for lit­ter bugs.

“And that street is named af­ter a prom­i­nent per­son, and that’s de­fil­ing the name,” Hash said, re­fer­ring to Booker T. Wash­ing­ton Av­enue, which curves into Short East Hills­boro.

KEB mem­bers agreed that the curve is a high traf­fic area with res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties — in­clud­ing an apart­ment com­plex — just to the east and pedes­tri­ans and drivers pass­ing through each week­day on their way to school and busi­nesses and in­dus­try nearby.

Roblee, who is also gen­eral man­ager of Clean Har­bors, said he trav­els through the area on his way to work each day and sees first­hand what an eye­sore it can be­come.

“There are (no lit­ter­ing) signs be­hind the school, and it’s still one of the worst ar­eas,” Roblee said.

He pre­vi­ously said he has of­ten seen the area fill back up with lit­ter im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing a com­mu­nity cleanup.

For the past two years, Clean Har­bors has worked with Ward 3 al­der­men Wil­lie McGhee and Kensel Spivey to host a cleanup in the ward.

Jeri Rat­cliff said it is of­ten dif­fi­cult for po­lice to catch lit­ter­bugs, and she called on stricter en­force­ment of lit­ter laws.

“Can’t the money from the tick­ets pay for of­fi­cers to fo­cus on prob­lem ar­eas?” Rat­cliff asked.

A first-time of­fense can yield a fine of $100 – $1,000.

An ad­di­tional penalty of eight hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice could ac­com­pany the fine.

If some­one is con­victed of lit­ter­ing within three years of a first of­fense, the per­son is sub­ject to a fine of $200 - $2,000 and up to 24 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice.

Vi­o­la­tors who are con­victed of a first or sec­ond of­fense may also be or­dered to pick up lit­ter along­side state high­ways and any other lo­ca­tions within a pre­scribed pe­riod.

Ja­nis Van Hook, pres­i­dent of KEB, said the group has spo­ken to 35th Ju­di­cial District Court Judge Jack Barker about the mat­ter.

“He’s be­hind us 100 per­cent, par­tic­u­larly for the first of­fense to per­form com­mu­nity ser­vice. He’d rather see them out there clean­ing up for the lit­ter they’ve thrown down,” Van Hook said. Com­mu­nity ser­vice is also a pref­er­ence for KEB. Po­lice Chief Billy White pre­vi­ously said the El Do­rado Po­lice Depart­ment also sup­ports KEB’s ef­forts.

He said of­fi­cers some­times is­sue ci­ta­tions for lit­ter­ing, but the prac­tice does not oc­cur of­ten.

“You have to wit­ness it in or­der to is­sue a ci­ta­tion,” he said, echo­ing Rat­cliff’s com­ments.

The group noted that if pri­vate cit­i­zens wit­ness some­one lit­ter­ing from a ve­hi­cle, they may re­port it by record­ing the li­cense plate num­ber and call­ing po­lice or the state’s toll-free lit­ter hot­line at 866-811-1222.

How­ever, Hash and KEB mem­bers said it is of­ten dif­fi­cult to get the de­sired re­sults from the hot­line.

KEB mem­bers dis­cussed pos­si­bly work­ing with lo­cal fast food restau­rants to print stick­ers that would be at­tached to bags and con­tain­ers.

The stick­ers would urge peo­ple not to lit­ter and list the pos­si­ble penal­ties for the of­fense.

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