Fighting Litter in Sumter County
The fight against litter in Sumter County took on a new life as the City-County Litter Advisory Board held its inaugural meeting on July 26 at Patriot Park Pavilion.
Presiding over the meeting was County Council Chairman Jim McCain, who noted at the outset of the meeting that himself and others have been working on the litter issue in Sumter for some time.
County Councilman Charles Edens and City Councilman Steve Corley also spoke briefly to the appointed members of the board. Edens urged them not to stretch meetings out but keep it under an hour to accomplish goals.
“Don’t take it lightly – we’re going to ask you to do some work,” he said. “We want your thoughts, we want your ideas.”
Edens noted County Council added 1 mill to the tax rolls specifically to fund a new litter program. He also told the group that he and Councilman Corley are ex-officio board members along with County Administrator Gary Mixon and City Manager Deron McCormick. (Ex-officio members have no vote.)
Edens urged board members to help spread the word about litter prevention and to try and get civic organizations and volunteers involved in clean-up efforts.
Councilman Corley thanked the group for volunteering their time. He said it’s important to get “the message out,” and to get the news out that the group is active in the community, but it’s crucial that coordination among like-minded groups takes place.
The City hired Glen Button as its Litter Control Officer, he said, and the County is working towards hiring some litter staffers as well. There’s a lot that can be accomplished, Corley said.
“We make a difference,” he said. “How we act.”
Board members are: Sandra Riley, the S.C. Department of Transportation Maintenance Engineer for Sumter; Erika Williams with the Sumter Development Board; Barbara Richburg of the Turkey Creek Neighborhood Association; Russell Brannon of SAFE Federal Credit Union; Chris Hardy, President of the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce; the Rev. Ernest Frierson, who represents the northeast corridor of Sumter County; Beverly Davis of the Crosswell Neighborhood Association; Joe Brown of Joe Brown Bail Bond; Scott Burkett, a Realtor who founded the Sumter Litter Alliance with others; Joey Rogerson, a Codes Enforcement Deputy with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office; and Capt. Robert Singleton of the Sumter Police Department.
Sumter County Public Works Director Karen Hyatt gave a short presentation to the group, explaining the tenets of clean-up, enforcement and education.
“So where are we at in the county? We are in the beginning stages of hiring personnel for our litter control division,” she said. “And in the process of buying equipment.”
There will be two Litter Control Officers, she said, who will go through the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy and will hold a Class 3 designation, which allows them to write tickets. They will be responsible for identifying litter hotspots and telling the litter control operators where they need to go.
Those officers will also work with the City of Sumter and Palmetto Pride, for example, to help with the education and public outreach aspect of litter control, she said.
There will be two Litter Control Operators, she said, with one holding a Commercial Driver’s License. A litter rake is on order, and will be used alongside a tractor, trailer, a dump truck and pickup trucks.
Mixon, the county administrator, noted that “we looked at a number of different applications and different types of equipment and I think what you’re going to hear from Mr. McCormick with the City is that they have a little bit different application and probably a different piece of equipment.”
There will need to be a prioritization of cleaning up some of the worst areas, he said, and for the county, the roads leading into the Recycling Centers are often heavily littered.
Mixon said there needs to be a culture shift in our community that essentially accepts litter as the norm. Burkett asked about how clean-ups would work in areas that are shared by the City and County and around the line delineating the two entities.
“We recognize this as not a city or county issue – it’s a community issue,” Mixon said, and it will take combined efforts to address the problem.
Mixon also noted that public equipment won’t be used to clean up private property.
McCormick, the City Manager, thanked Corley, Edens and McCain for bringing litter issues to the fore and for their respective councils to fund litter clean-up solutions. He also noted there will be areas of overlap in terms of city and county efforts.
Part of the education component, he said, is to “hopefully work ourselves out of a job,” as anti-litter mindsets take hold.
There have been neighborhood cleanups in the City for years and years, he said, and Assistant City Manager Al Harris keeps up with construction and demolition litter as well as “stuff put on the side of the road.”
McCormick mused where all the discarded tires come from and said one neighborhood clean-up yielded 218 tires. In one neighborhood.
Inmates were being used to pick up trash, he said, but Covid-19 protocols sidelined those efforts.
While he sees the value of a rake system used to pick up trash, the City will fare better with a vacuum truck, he said, but a concerted effort is required for the long run.
“We need every arrow in the quiver to attack this,” he said.
John Macloskie, the city’s Codes Enforcement Director, said he found out “we are all going to have be willing to pick up other people’s trash,” which he admitted was a little disheartening.
There’s a difference between litter and illegal dumping, he said, and when illegal dumps are discovered, they work to find the person responsible and issue tickets. The real issue is roadside litter, as you generally “might not see someone throw that out,” he said.
One of the goals is to have Glenn Button, the City’s Litter Control Officer, making his presence known to deter flagrant littering. He also gave a shout-out to the Chamber of Commerce for providing help and support for the Community Clean-Up Days.
“We’re picking up trash from years ago,” Macloskie said, as the aim is to get the old trash removed and then maintain the roadsides regularly to prevent build-up.
To date, the removal of about 75,000 pounds of trash can be attributed to Button and the City’s efforts as well as those of volunteer groups, he said.
Magistrate judges are assigning non-violent offender to community service work, he said, to clean up litter hotspots.
“We’ve made a good start, I think, but y’all can see there’s a lot more,” he said.
McCormick deemed clean-up efforts “a team sport,” that combines the work of the City, the County and the S.C. Department of Transportation. Corridors coming into town have been planted with trees and are being regularly cleaned, he said, to beautify our entrance ways.
“It will take all of us working together, and it’s noticeable, too,” he said.
June 19, 2021
May 19, 2021
April 26, 2021
Narrow Paved Road is seen after litter cleanup crews scoured the roadsides for trash.
April 26, 2021
Litter cleanup crews target Eagle Road.
April 20, 2021
The road leading into the Rainier Blvd Recycling Site was cleaned up.
April 13, 2021
Litter cleanup crews target Berry Street.
The drainage ditch on Berry Street after the cleanup.
April 7, 2021
Public Works employees and litter cleanup crews target the area leading into the Cane Savannah Recycling Site.
The road and area leading into Stamey Livestock's Recycling site are also targeted for cleanup.
April 6, 2021
A ditch running alongside Berry Street is choked with trash. Several pieces of equipment are used to clean it up.
April 1, 2021
City and County officials watch a demonstration of a vacuum truck in consideration of adding new equipment to fight litter.