Organization to survey area, create map of litter hot spots

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The advisory council for the area's newly created anti-litter organization, Keep Southeast Missouri Beautiful, met Tuesday to evaluate its progress. Two months have past since the group received marching orders from a Keep America Beautiful national coordinator.

The most important step toward affiliation, said the committee, is completing the "litter survey index," set to take place June 17. The index is compiled by sending four groups of six members to fan out through Scott City, Jackson, Cape Girardeau and Cape Girardeau County and assess litter levels.

Participants will be driven along randomly selected routes and asked to rank the litter they see on a scale from one to four. This ranking will give organizers a preliminary map of the litter hot spots and pristine zones of the region.

"What we're doing here is providing a baseline so when we measure against it in the future we can see how much litter there was in a given area compared to the year before," said advisory council member Chuck Martin.

The assessment, said some, will require an open mind.

"We're asking people to take a hard look at the way their community looks," said administrative team member Tim Arbeiter. "They're going to be asked to remove their blinders that day and take a hard look at the community as if they were new tourists in the town."

Arbeiter also announced the official housing of the organization will be at the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce.

The completion of the survey is the first step toward local affiliation with the national Keep America Beautiful organization. Locals hope for a kick-off date sometime in mid-September.

Once source of litter the council has decided to tackle is cigarettes. Marybeth Williams of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce told the council she is working to arrange a relationship with Rubbermaid where businesses could purchase rubber receptacles for cigarette butts.

"It's a good place to start, because a lot of times people don't consider cigarettes trash," said Williams. "But they don't biodegrade so cleaning them up seems like something that would be a good idea."

The council also voted on a mission statement which reads: "Engaging individuals to take greater responsibility for our Southeast Missouri environment."

Rhett Hendrickson of the advisory council's technical team announced he has received the litter ordinances from Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Cape Girardeau County. His committee will turn these over to the national organization for tips on how to unify codes and improve enforcement.

"It's important to have city and county ordinances that make it difficult for people to litter either deliberately or unintentionally," said Hendrickson. "We have a great start with some of the recycling centers we have in the area which do the job of encouraging people to put trash in the right place to begin with so it never becomes litter."

335-6611, extension 245

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