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County to launch litter cleanup effort

Some of the litter scattered on Woodlawn Road this week.Based on a recent poll by The Baker County Press in which most respondents said they would volunteer to help keep roadsides clean, county officials are planning a neighborhood anti-litter campaign.

The proposal was pitched by County Commissioner Jimmy Anderson during a board meeting on March 5, which followed his suggestion a month earlier for county government to take the lead in a massive cleanup effort.

“Part of my 2013 goals was cleaning up Baker County,” Mr. Anderson said last week, adding he was encouraged by the results of the recent poll which asked readers whether they would participate in neighborhood clean-up efforts if local government furnished supplies.

“I was surprised that a majority (43 percent) said they would help,” he said. “Forty percent said they wouldn’t help. That wasn’t a surprise.”

Another 12 percent said they weren’t even aware the county had a litter problem, while 5 percent said they were already doing their part in cleaning up litter.

Buoyed by the number of potential volunteers, Mr. Anderson suggested the county could provide plastic bags and form community groups to “get some of this trash off our roads.”

If the commission wants to move in that direction, County Manager C.J. Thompson said, neighborhood coordinators could be named and assigned the task of organizing volunteers to patrol designated areas.

Commissioner Anderson suggested designated areas could include specific sections of roadways assigned to neighborhood groups in an Adopt-A-Mile campaign, which have been employed in other communities for many years to control litter. He said signs could be erected identifying volunteer groups responsible for maintaining the grounds alongside certain roads and highways, say a one-mile section per group.

Commissioner James Croft said he liked the idea but he has had some experience with the Adopt-A-Mile programs and knows that it’s a bit more involved than simply naming a group of people to do the work and turning them loose.

For example, he said, the county would have to coordinate the effort with the Florida Department of Transportation and volunteers take DOT safety training.

“It gets a lot deeper than just putting up a sign,” Mr. Croft said.

“I agree,” Mr. Anderson said, “but I think it’s something we need to look into.”

“I agree,” Mr. Croft replied.

With that, the board directed the county manager to develop a plan to implement the cleanup campaign, including the provision of bags and other supplies.

Mr. Anderson said enlisting the support and cooperation of citizens could instill a “sense of ownership and pride in people” involved in a common community cause.

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