County cracks down on litter

Published 9:43 pm Monday, December 12, 2011

If you litter in Dallas County, there is a chance you will go to jail. Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman left no loose ends Monday when he addressed the Dallas County Commission.

A group of concerned citizens, led by James Hines, have been picking up trash every weekend along Dallas County roads. Unfortunately, Hines said they often feel their efforts are in vain.

“We have got a problem here,” he said. “We have been overcome with too much trash and garbage that is being thrown on our roadsides. It has gotten to the tipping point. You pick it up, but you can’t pick it up fast enough.”

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County programs, Huffman said, face the same challenge. Inmates are constantly patrolling the roadsides in an effort to eliminate litter, but the volume is simply too much to overcome. Five days a week, Huffman said inmates pick up trash. Hopefully, arrests will make people think twice about littering.

“Two or three days later, you can’t tell they have done anything,” he said. “It gets back to respect for your county, and a lot of people just don’t have respect for it anymore.

“I think after we start making a few arrests, and with the help of district court, I think a lot of it is going to turn around.”

First time offenders face a $250 fine, Huffman said. Each additional offense is a $500 fine.

Increased patrols and increased fines, Hines said, are a great way to get the point across that litter will not be tolerated.

“There has got to be some way to let them know this is not going to be accepted anymore,” he said.

“This is our beautiful land that God gave us, and God does not want the trash thrown out. We don’t want trash thrown everywhere.”

Huffman said he has already discussed the matter with District Judge Bob Armstrong who assured him he will back up law enforcement with fines.

“With the help of the district judge, it won’t take one or two of these to turn it all around,” he said.

Litter presents a number of challenges to the county, Probate Judge Kim Ballard said.

When businesses tour new areas, litter can be a deal breaker. Ballard praised Hines and Commissioner Connell Towns, who often organize cleanups in the Selmont area, for meeting the problem head-on.

With a little ambition, and help from law enforcement, Hines said he feels litter can be eliminated eventually.

“If we have the will, I think we can do it,” he said. “I think we can clean up our county, and I think we’ll be glad we did.”

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