Eutawville residents had a chance to let off steam about what many described as a “bad” litter problem during a special meeting with local, county and state officials on March 15.
Among those gathering to talk about solutions to the problem were James Bishop, Susan West and Marie Canty of Orangeburg County Litter Control, Matthew Austin of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, Valerie Shannon of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright Sr. and Eutawville Mayor Jefferson Johnson.
The panel thanked Eutawville resident David Myers, who helped organize the meeting. Myers regularly volunteers his time to pick up trash around town, it was noted.
While the officials said thousands of pounds of litter are picked up on a regular basis, it’s a serious ongoing issue that needs better solutions. It was noted that Orangeburg County is the largest rural area in the state and independent trash companies are understaffed.
Canty said Litter Control officers issue tickets to litterers that are caught but in most of the cases when they appear in court, the judge reduces the fine and nothing else happens to them. The officers have to investigate and fill out paperwork, but if the judge doesn’t enforce the penalties, all their work is in vain, she said.
“We have no control making the judge or magistrate give the people the maximum fine ... “ Wright said.
Some residents said they had taken pictures of people in the act of littering, have witnessed people dumping truckloads of trash in the woods and have even gotten the violators’ license plate numbers — all for naught. Some said when they called DHEC or left a message on the PalmettoPride 24-hour, statewide Litter Busters Hotline to report litterbugs, they never received a return call.
One resident complained that in December 2015, someone clearing their property dumped two loads of tree branches and all types of yard debris at the edge of Knott Drive in Eutawville — and it was still there.
Another resident said, “A large part of this community does not have transportation, or jobs for that matter, and can’t get to the garbage dump.” Instead of letting old garbage collect on their porches, they find a ditch to dump it in, he said.
Suggestions made during the meeting included:
Stiffer fines and/or community service for litterers.
Placing more trash receptacles around town.
Keeping the garbage disposal site open longer hours, including on Sundays so when tourists leave town and residents come home from work, they can drop their garbage off. If the garbage facility is closed, some people will dispose of it on the side of the road, it was noted. “They are not going to take their garbage back home with them,” one frustrated citizen said.
Educating people not to litter, starting with parents.
Getting students to make posters encouraging the public not to litter.
Scheduling a community day for trash pick up.
Arranging for county inmates to pick up trash on a regular basis.
Hiring workers to pick up trash daily, paying them from fines paid by convicted litterers.
Contacting council members, judges and magistrates about litter problems.
Urging residents to call PalmettoPride’s Litter Busters Hotline to report litterbugs at 877-7LITTER (754-8837).