Kudos to the Wilkes Solid Waste Department for implementing an initiative that pays nonprofit organizations $3 per bag of trash picked up from secondary roads in the county.

Wilkes Solid Waste Director Anderia Byrd announced the new program during the Wilkes County commissioners meeting Tuesday night, along with preliminary plans for a countywide litter sweep and litter prevention educational efforts targeting young people.

She said it’s all being planned and will be carried out in association with the newly-formed public/private Wilkes County Litter Committee. This includes involvement of Cleanup Wilkes, a new volunteer group that has conducted several daylong roadside litter collections.

This latest effort to make Wilkes roadsides clean coincides with an N.C. Department of Transportation decision to cut back even more on roadside litter pickup work statewide due to a DOT funding shortfall.

The lack of DOT funds resulted from hurricane and other storm cleanup costs and from expenses settling lawsuits related to a law that let the DOT reserve and prevent development of privately-owned land where it planned to build roads. The state Supreme Court ruled that this was an illegal taking of private property by the government.

DOT budget problems also resulted in a reduction in mowing and other maintenance along public roads.

The cutback in DOT litter collection makes the $3-per-bag-offer even more valuable.

Nonprofit litter collection applications and full details on the litter collection payment program are available by clicking the solid waste tab of the Wilkes County government website (wilkescounty.net). After clicking “government” on the home page and then “landfill & solid waste,” look under “landfill documents” for what to click next. Phone the Wilkes Solid Waste Department at 336-696-3867.

Payments will only be made for litter picked up from secondary roads and participating nonprofits must use trash bags provided by the Wilkes Solid Waste Department. All filled bags left along roads for collection must be tied and identified with a Wilkes Solid Waste decal facing the road.

Byrd announced tentative plans for an inaugural county-wide clean sweep in early November in which organizations and individuals will be encouraged to pick up trash from along public roads, along the W. Kerr Scott Reservoir shoreline and on the Yadkin River Greenway. She said a local company agreed to provide a dumpster for receiving what is collected.

Educational efforts include a contest to generate litter prevention mascot proposals from young people, a litter video contest for young people and distribution of printed educational materials in the Wilkes County Schools.

Hand-drawn litter prevention mascot posters are due Oct. 18 and the winner will be announced Oct. 25. Details on cash prizes and other aspects of this competition are at https://wilkescounty.net/documentcenter/view/805/litter-mascot-contest.

As brush along roadsides dies back with the changing of the season, litter will become increasingly visible.

Make plans to join  recent efforts to protect the Wilkes County’s scenic appeal by preventing and cleaning up litter.

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