Paid Pickups, Volunteer Groups, and NCDOT Worked Hard To Clean the County of Litter Problem
Once again Keep Rutherford County Beautiful (KRCB) held its Spring Litter Sweep. This year's Sweep spanned eight weeks, with over 200 miles of roadway cleared of unsightly trash. This was only made possible by the efforts of the KRCB Litter Committee and its regional volunteers alongside strong partnerships with the Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority, local municipalities, the North Carolina Department of Transportation(NCDOT), and paid pickup contractors.
The Sweep kicked off with a group of volunteers from James Madison University, led by Rutherford Outdoor Coalition, picking up 25 bags from Laurel Hill Drive in Rutherfordton by the Rutherford County Landfill. Laurel Hill Drive has become a highly littered area. “This road collects above average amounts of litter because people do not tarp their truckloads of trash,” said Jenna Bailey, KRCB Executive Director. “If everyone could take the time to tarp their load, it would keep the roadsides much cleaner on this road and around the county.”
Over a month span, it was recorded that half of the vehicles traveling to the Rutherford County Landfill had not tarped their loads of trash. When truck beds are not covered, debris flies out of the vehicle and becomes litter along an otherwise clean street. Companies and individuals can help by simply securing their trash and tarping their load.
“We have to get the basics right before we can expect change,” said Bailey. “We provided volunteers with supplies over two months, hired private contractors and worked alongside NCDOT just to see the litter return mere days after a pickup. It is disheartening.”
Rutherford County Code of Ordinances states, “...vehicles loaded with solid waste shall not be permitted to any county landfill site and subject to penalty if the height of the load extends above a horizontal line six (6) inches below their tops when loaded at the loading point, or if not so loaded, unless the load shall be securely covered by tarpaulin or some other suitable covering. If spillage shall occur, the material shall be picked up by the hauler immediately and returned to the vehicle or container and the area shall be property cleaned.” (Chp. 15, Division 2, Section 15-33.13)
To prepare for the sweep, KRCB Litter Committee Members drove roads across the county and rated them by the level of litter and need for pickups. Members also packaged team supply kits of safety vests, gloves, bags and grabbers for volunteers. Thank you to Jenna Bailey, Executive Director; Amanda Byers; Dana Bradley; Taylor Hardin; Gabe Isaac; James Kilgo; Allegra Lucas; Eddie Mote; George Moyer; Marian Moyer; Elizabeth Randall; Maddie Summers; Matt Taylor; Engle Troxler; and Scott Webber.
The Sweep took place during the NCDOT’s 2-week statewide Spring Litter Sweep. After rating the streets, KRCB worked with NCDOT to split a master list of littered thoroughfares. NCDOT alone contributed over 10,000 pounds of the total litter collected. KRCB funded over $10,000 to a private pickup company to collect on roads not recommended for volunteers. Their efforts along these roadways surpassed 9,000 lbs, which KRCB says was worth every penny.
4,185lbs of litter were collected by volunteers, although volunteerism is down from previous years. KRCB has been working hard to lessen the litter problem in the county since 2017 but they can’t do it alone. Volunteers are needed and stewardship is more important than ever.
“Our budget is tight and we are not able to consistently adopt any area,” said Bailey. “The more volunteers we have, the more progress we can make. Encourage your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers to pick up litter with you. This is a community-wide movement and we need all the help we can get.”
Between concerned volunteers, businesses, organizations and paid pickup, 13,425 lbs of litter were collected from Rutherford County’s public spaces. "All hands were helpful and made an impact,” said Gabe Isaac, KRCB Litter Chair and Rutherford Outdoor Coalition Programs Director. “We appreciate everyone who came out to serve our planet and our community this spring."
Isaac led a “Leave No Trace” educational presentation during several outreach events throughout the sweep.
“It’s important to educate our youth on the problems that litter creates for the environment,” said Isaac. “They are our future, so we need to lead them by setting an example.”
KRCB would like to thank the North Carolina Department of Transportation for their donation of bags and for their collection of bags left on site. A thank you is also extended to Rutherfordton, Forest City and Spindale Public Works Departments for picking up bags left for collection.
This coming fall there will be another litter sweep, with the annual Litter Bowl kicking off in September at local high schools. KRCB hopes to see more volunteers for the upcoming sweep. It is encouraged that we come together and take action to show pride for our community and our future.
Teams consisted of 189 volunteers. Team Leaders (in alphabetical order and pick-up locations): Jenna Bailey, Artifacturing - Broyhill Rd., Rutherfordton; Stacey Bogart - Jack Moore Mountain Rd., Ellenboro; Dana Bradley - Boys Camp Rd., Lake Lure; Amanda Byers - Clark Rd. Rutherfordton; Don Cason, RC Tourism Development Authority - Coxe Rd., Rutherfordton; Tammy Cross, Magnolia House - Riverside Drive and Hayes Drive, Forest City; Dan Fischer - Golden Valley Church Rd., Bostic; Tiffany Fish - Bill’s Creek; Gabe Isaac, Rutherford Outdoor Coalition - Thermal Belt Rail Trail, Dittmer Watts Trail and Highway 9; Julie Lamprecht - Bostic Sunshine Hwy; Jessica Moseley, Union Hill AME Zion Church - Owens Chapel Rd., Union Mills.; Chad Nazelrod, Spindale Police Department - Thermal Belt Rail Trail; Ginny Raines, Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group - Thermal Belt Rail Trail FC end; Miranda Parker, Meta/Forest City Data Center - Old Caroleen Rd., Forest City; Lynn Wall - Bostic Sunshine Hwy; William White, Befesa Zinc Metal - Hicks Grove Rd., Mooresboro
Keep Rutherford County Beautiful started as an Earth Day litter pickup that has transformed into a movement throughout Rutherford County, North Carolina. Neighbors, industry leaders, business owners, school systems and municipalities have joined forces to change the way we define community - leading programs and initiatives to propel Rutherford County's beautification forward by tackling the problems arising from our disposable economy. As of 2023, KRCB became an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s largest community improvement organization. This milestone is a testament to the work the organization has put in since 2017 and the progress they have made. Together, we are taking action to love where we live, work and play.