By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office continues its efforts to clean up and educate citizens regarding the damages that litter does to the beauty of Oconee County.
“During my press release upon the release of the 2015 Sheriff’s Office Summary, I made mention of our continued and increased efforts to curb the litter problem in Oconee County,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “With that in mind, I want to remind our citizens now that spring is here that the Sheriff’s Office will once use inmate labor, which we have the last few years, to help to clean the roads and highway in Oconee County.”
Just recently, Corporal Brandon Meadows, Environmental Services Officer from the Sheriff’s Office, utilized inmate labor to clean up portions of Charles Drive in Westminster and Forest Path Lane in Walhalla. According to Corporal Meadows, one load of litter taken to solid waste weighed approximately 1,760 pounds.
“As you travel around Oconee County, you may notice Corporal Meadows out supervising inmate labor and the Sheriff’s Office wants everyone traveling to use caution in those areas,” continues Sheriff Crenshaw. “The inmates will be wearing yellow vests and signs will be posted on the side of the road clearing marking the area where the inmate litter detail and pickup is ongoing. Also, Sheriff’s Office vehicles will be clearly marked as well. Please slow down and drive carefully in these areas for the safety of all.”
As part of the ongoing efforts, the Sheriff’s Office will be participating in the Zero Tolerance for Litter campaign again this year and Sheriff Crenshaw has asked officers to continue to be vigilant in regards to litter enforcement. The Sheriff’s Office announced in June of 2014 that it begun participation in the Adopt-a-Highway program by adopting a portion of Highway 11 in Picket Post. Deputies and their family members have participated in picking up litter quarterly since then.
The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind everyone that no vehicle which transports litter may be driven or moved on any highway unless the litter and trash is secured by means of a covering which is fastened securely. According to Keep America Beautiful, there are seven sources of litter, which included household garbage, commercial waste, loading docks, construction debris, motorists, pedestrians, and uncovered vehicles.
If you cannot properly secure any trash or litter in a garbage bag that can be secured on its own where trash or litter do not escape or if a vehicle or trailer is fully loaded where litter, trash, or a trash bag can escape from that moving vehicle or trailer, the vehicle or trailer containing the trash, litter or trash bags should be fully tarped. Plastic sheeting is not strong enough, according to the Sheriff’s Office, to withstand wind pressure and can tear off and become litter itself. Commercial tarps are recommended. It is illegal to operate a vehicle with any load unless that load is properly secured to prevent items from coming loose.
If you are hauling any article, whether heavy or light, making sure they are secured properly will not only cut down on the litter problem, but will also help to prevent accidents and improve driver safety. Make sure the tarps are secured to the vehicle using ropes, straps, bungee cords, or chains. The Sheriff’s Office recommends tying larger items directly to the vehicle and placing heavier items on top of lighter ones to help in securing those items. The best practice, of course, is not to overload your vehicle in the first place.
Fines are as high as $500 for anyone who is caught littering, but with court costs, those fees may go as high as $1,092.50. Besides the court costs, jail time of up to 30 days is possible. It should also be noted that that neighborhoods that have a litter problem tend to be areas where crime rates are higher and have lower property values.
“Anyone who is caught littering in the unincorporated areas of the county will be given a ticket,” continues the Sheriff. “We know there is more to be done but we will continue with our education, enforcement and clean-up efforts in our efforts to make Oconee even more beautiful that what it is already.”