Spring cleaning afoot in Florence; County expected to change litter code

BY GAVIN JACKSON Morning News | gavinjackson@florencenews.com | Posted Sunday March 22, 2015 

Empty beer bottles float in a flooded ditch outside of Scranton in Florence County on March 20, 2015. County County is poised to toughen its litter laws next month on the recommendation of one of its committees that met for the second time this year on Thursday. Some fines will more than double and officials will have stronger prosecution authority in some cases.

FLORENCE, S.C. – Spring is in bloom and soon green foliage will hide most of the county’s litter problem that the bareness of winter annually reveals. But while some litter will be out of sight, it won’t be out of mind. Leaders say Florence County is plagued by litter problems and now the Florence County Council is cleaning up its code to increase punishments and coordinate more cleanup efforts.

The following text is an excerpt, the full article which can be found on the FLORENCE MORNING NEWS website at http://www.scnow.com or by clicking on the image above.

County residents have few options when it comes to trash disposal. Contract with a trash collection service, take it to one of 15 drop-off sites or burn it. Some opt to illegally dump their refuse on back country roads where no one will catch them but many will see the results for months afterward. Mumford said countywide collection could be possible in the future, but that’s still unknown. For Herbie Christmas, an environmental services officer with the county, litter is a problem that residents need to get proactive about and one he’s been fighting for 29 years. In fact, litter fines have remained the same, at $200, since the start of his career. “Our county, we definitely have problems without a doubt,” Christmas said. “But all these things we’ve been doing for years has definitely helped tremendously if you comparatively look at other counties.”

The proposed county ordinance, which has strong committee support, has fines that mirror state maximums. First- and second-time misdemeanor offenders convicted of littering less than 15 pounds would be hit with a $200 fine or 30 days in prison. Third-time and subsequent offenders would be fined $500 with the same possible jail time. The court must also impose eight hours of litter gathering for first offenders, 16 hours for second offenders and 24 hours for third offenders. Any offender who exceeded 15 pounds of litter could be hit with fines no less than $200, but only up to $500 or imprisoned for up to 90 days and up to 100 hours of community service. Additional hours ordered by the court could be adjusted to a fine of $5 an hour sentenced. Furthermore, if a person’s name was found on the litter recovered by authorities the county could win a conviction on that evidence alone. It’s good news for Christmas, but still just a small part. “Picking it up is not the answer; writing tickets is not the answer,” Christmas said. “It’s about educating people.”

Michelle Bailey, chairwoman of Keep Florence Beautiful, couldn’t attend the Thursday meeting, but is encouraged by council actions to become more active in the cause her group has spearheaded for years. “I think the county coming on board with litter control will help definitely,” Bailey said. “People are busy and really rely on the city and county to keep the community clean, but what they don’t understand is that we need to be more vested and play more of a part.”

“I really hope it opens up new partnerships with Keep Florence Beautiful,” Bailey said. We have adopt a spot, adopt a street program within the city and we’re looking to grow that in the county. We have the Great American Cleanup and are in the school systems and even paying for some of the recycling initiatives going on, like at Wilson High School.”

The county will be pursuing grants through Palmetto Pride that Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone said will increase awareness and education efforts. Bailey welcomes the additional educational outreach opportunities as well.  The proposed ordinance could be introduced at the April County Council meeting and could be in place by June. Read more, including the full text of this article online at SCNOW.com 

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Children are our future….we would love to hear from you on how we can help educate our young generation, 3k to 6th grade about our environment, recycling and sustainability in our community.  If you are interested in joining our education committee please complete the form below.

Planting Seeds & The Oct 27th Downtown Cleanup

My 5yro and I spent about an hour pulling weeds (mostly crab grass) at The KFB Cultural Garden this morning. I had a great time with her as we chatted about her first week of kindergarten at Briggs and about how God created the plants that makeup the Carolina Fence Garden on S. Dargan Street in downtown Florence. I demonstrated for her how the rain garden and the permeable pavers help with storm water runoff and reduce pollution in our city. At her age she doesn’t really get all that – like our garden I am just planting a seed – but she did say that the rain barrels were pretty (and they are!) 🙂

Afterward we decided to walk through the gardens we helped with at The City County Complex. We chased some of the eastern tiger swallowtails, she was upset that we couldn’t catch them and take them home. When I explained to her that these butterflies have made this their home because they like the flowers she helped plant she agreed that we don’t want to take them from their homes. There wasn’t any work to be done because the City does a great job at maintaining those beds for us, but we enjoyed walking through the area and reminiscing about all of the fun we had while we were working on that project. She eventually got bored and said that was ready to go home to her iPad, but I love that she takes such pride in the work we have done our community and I enjoy the time we spend together maintaining the green spaces and gardens we’ve helped create. I look forward to seeing her grow more and more with a sense of community and pride for our city.

Our next project is one of our annual cleanup events, and one of the first projects that my family participated in with Keep Florence Beautiful back in 2010… the Magic City Pride Downtown Cleanup. My older children still proudly wear their ‘I Believe in Downtown Florence’ T-shirts 🙂 – the Florence Morning News covered the event here. This year’s cleanup will be held on October 27th, 2012; the weekend before the SC Pecan Festival. As one of the hosts for the festival the City of Florence puts a lot of work into prepping our city for this event, an event that brings people from all over the southeast to enjoy our area. The KFB board decided to plan this years cleanup just before the festival so that we can help clean things up and prep our city for visitors. If you are interested in helping volunteer for this event or if you or family want to get involved with the Keep Florence Beautiful organization please email us at kfbboard@keepflorencebeautiful.org. We will also place more info here on our website and in our facebook group as plans progress.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Tara Durden
Keep Florence Beautiful Board Member
www.facebook.com/taradurden
www.twitter.com/taradurden
www.keepflorencebeautiful.org

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