OUR VIEW: Keep the county clean to get more of what you want

If you want something better, you should take care of what you already have.

It’s a lesson some kids are taught when it comes to their toys. If they don’t take care of them, the parents will take them away and not trust them with anything that may be a little more expensive.

It seems apparent that some people in Richmond County were never taught that lesson.

The overwhelming amount of garbage that has been picked up near the county’s waterways seem to reflect that.

In February, Zach Long found what was described as “a wall of trash” — a multitude of plastic bottles and jugs, a few basketballs and even a motorcycle helmet — littered along the floodplain near the dam at the Cascades plant along Hitchcock Creek.

Members of the Creek Runners Club had organized a cleanup effort for March 19, but Cascades employees — along with volunteers from other local businesses and the city of Rockingham — beat them to the punch, collecting about 75 bags of garbage and 17 tires.

The Creek Runners decided to move their event a little farther downstream, near the von Drehle plant, where they picked up 20 bags of refuse, a muffler, a busted kayak and a swimming pool liner.

In April, volunteers from Perdue Foods collected hundreds of pounds of garbage from both the Richmond and Anson County sides of the Blewett Falls Dam.

However, it needed cleaning again just four months later.

Last week, Allison Sweatt drove down to the dam last Thursday “to be with nature” and was disappointed and disgusted by what she found: discarded dirty diapers, glass and plastic bottles, a pizza box and other detritus.

After posting photos and video of the garbage on Facebook, Sweatt organized a cleanup event that was held Wednesday morning with about 20 volunteers picking up around 15 bags of trash.

County commissioners voted several months ago —following Commissioner Herb Long’s litter lamentations during their retreat — to crack down on polluters.

“We’ve just got to do something about this trash…because it is a reflection on the county and it obviously hurts with recruiting people moving in here, industry moving here, and we just need to take a little bit more pride in our county,” Kenneth Robinette, board chairman, told the Daily Journal Wednesday.

We agree with him that it’s going to take a group effort.

Instead of relying on the government to do something, individuals — like those previously mentioned — should take initiative. While media and social media have both played a role in things getting done, it’s those with the desire to keep the county clean who matter.

As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Some residents complain that they want more in the county — more stores, amenities, jobs.

That’s not going to happen until everyone can learn to take care of what we already have.

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