Anti-litterbugs hit the roads

Volunteers wait at Lake Anna Plaza on March 27 for trash bags and a ride to pickup locations where they would collect trash from roadsides. 

A clean-up crew was busy on the main arteries of Lake Anna last weekend, picking up trash and helping draw attention to how littering sullies many of the county’s roads.

Over 60 volunteers collected 192 bags of trash and 18 tires on March 27, according to Mineral District Supervisor Duane Adams, who organized the effort. Lake Anna Taphouse owner Brian Gilbreth offered free coffee and bagels to volunteers and shuttled them in vans to and from roadside collection sites.

“Hopefully this event encourages others to volunteer to address the litter issue across the county,” Adams said.

The problem of litter drew three separate speakers during the public comment period at the board of supervisors’ meeting on March 15. None of the three knew each other beforehand, and were all there to bemoan the amount of trash along the roads.

Dick Abidin, who recently moved to the Noah’s Landing subdivision on the lake, said he and his wife picked up 19 bags of trash recently.

“We don’t want people to come out to the lake and say, ‘This is a disgrace,’” Abidin told the board. “With resources like an education and advertising program, it can be solved. It’s got to be a multipronged approach.”

Ann McLaughlin, who lives at Spring Creek in Zion Crossroads, echoed that sentiment. Littering “takes away from the natural beauty of our district,” she said.

The county had an active Clean Community Commission for about a decade, but the supervisors disbanded the group a couple of years ago due to a perceived lack of interest. The commission had found itself unable to attract people to attend meetings.

The supervisors asked Alan Saunders, Virginia Department of Transportation resident engineer, whether support had flagged for the Adopt-a-Highway program. Signs along roads around the county identify areas where residents or businesses committed to maintain a section of highway. In return, they receive recognition on the signs.

The program is active, Saunders said, and his staff contact participants twice a year. He said he is reluctant to pressure people if they don’t get out to pick up trash for a while. Separately from the Adopt-a-Highway program, VDOT picks up trash from time to time on primary roads. But it does not do scheduled pickups on secondary roads.

Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes (Patrick Henry District) said another problem recently has been that Central Virginia Regional Jail has cut back on sending prisoners out to pick up trash.

Donna Rivers was the third public speaker at the supervisors’ last meeting. She said she was thinking of trying to organize some of her neighbors to collect some of the trash on Poindexter Road. 

“I know it’s not the people who live on this road who are doing it,” she said. “The mentality of it, throwing the Big Gulp container out the window, I can’t understand. I’d like to ask them, ‘Where does it go when you throw it out like that?’ It’s just frustrating.”

Raising awareness about littering apparently makes for good politics. William Woody, who like Adams is a candidate in this year’s board of supervisors election, organized a litter pickup on the same morning in the Poindexter Road area.

 

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