MoDOT, civic leaders outline trash reduction efforts in county

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Missouri Department of Transportation officials met Wednesday with business and civic leaders in Cape Girardeau County to discuss ways of reducing litter. Cleanup is only one aspect of the problem, said Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson. Education should begin from an early age.

In addition to cleanup and education, three other areas of focus were identified: enforcement, laws and legislation, and beautification. Enforcement is particularly difficult because many people are reluctant to sign a formal complaint. Pam Sander of the Cape Girardeau Public Works Department suggested establishing an anonymous hotline where people could report littering that police could follow up. A similar hotline worked in Philadelphia, she said, and all it took to turn bad behavior around was for someone from the hotline to notify the offender that a report had been made against him.

MoDOT engineer Scott Meyer said that landscaping and flowers are a natural and effective follow-up to cleanup and education efforts.

"If you have color and beauty in an area, people are less likely to throw out trash," Meyer said.

The people who met plan to meet again and develop a plan of action to make cleanup a priority. They invite others from Scott City to Jackson and beyond to join them at their next meeting at 2 p.m. April 1 at the Convention and Visitors Bureau at 100 Broadway.

Another cleanup effort by MoDOT is the No MOre Trash Bash -- a statewide, monthlong effort combining cleanup with education and litter prevention efforts.

Angie Wilson, MoDOT's public information manager in Sikeston, said that the agency chose April as its cleanup month because as the weather turns warmer, people want to get outside more, and a consequence of that can be more litter. Picking up trash, she said, is an activity families can do together on a spring day or weekend.

Wilson encourages groups and organizations to join in the No MOre Trash Bash and encourage some friendly competition among groups to see who can collect the most debris. Team members will be given cards for reporting their activity and a lapel pin. MoDOT also supplies trash bags and safety vests.

The Cape Girardeau County area has 44 areas claimed under the Adopt-a-Highway program, and still has stretches of state highway that can be adopted for cleanup, said Mark Aufdenberg of MoDOT. Individuals and groups who adopt a portion of a road to clean up are given a short safety training session, and are also provided vests and trash bags. They are required only to pick up trash four times a year.

"Even if they pick up only in the spring and fall, we're satisfied with that," Aufdenberg said.

Wilson said that MoDOT has allocated $5 million of its budget for cleanup efforts across the state. The Adopt-a-Highway program gets $1.5 million of that.

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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