ROCKINGHAM — An unpaved, wooded turnaround spot by Blewett Falls Dam was trash-free in less than an hour Wednesday morning after community volunteers came for a cleanup.
The event was organized by Allison Sweatt after she drove down to the spot last week to relax and was disgusted by the debris.
Sweatt said she was surprised by the turnout, considering not many had signed up on the event’s Facebook page.
“I got here at ten ‘til (10 a.m.), they were already here, and it was already 75 percent done,” she said. “There were people on the other side picking up along the side of the walkway at the top of the dam.”
She said she was especially thankful for the help from the taekwondo school.
“Master J and his kids are awesome,” she said. “Anytime there’s stuff that can be done in the community they’re there for it. And a couple of those kids are scouts, too, so it will go toward earning their badges.”
When Sweatt was at the site last week, there were bottles, cans and dirty diapers in the woods, and “a bunch of fishing line.”
“That’s something that really bothers me, though, because, everybody wants to conserve the wildlife here,” she said. “If you fish, fine, pick up your line. Because that’s gonna be what kills your birds and your turtles.”
She said Richmond County residents should be more vigilant in keeping that area, and others like it, clean.
“I don’t want us to lose access to this property,” she said. “I think in order for us not to lose access we need to start a program, like adopt a highway —adopt an overlook, adopt a waterway.”
The land that was cleaned up is owned by Duke Energy.
“We are still looking at our maintenance services to periodically survey and pick up trash, but have not made any decisions yet,” said Kim Crawford, a corporate spokesperson. “We have also discussed the problem of illegal dumping with the Richmond Co. Sheriff’s (Office) to help increase patrols and general awareness.”
Roughly 15 bags of trash were picked up from the area, according to Kenneth Robinette, chairman of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, who was also onsite to help.
The bags were loaded into the back of a county-owned pickup truck and taken to the landfill.
Robinette provided drinks to the volunteers, as well as cards for ice cream from Twisted Treats.
He said it was good to see all the kids out there, and thought it would help teach them to keep the county cleaned up.
The county has recently started to crackdown on littering after Commissioner Herb Long brought up the issue during a retreat earlier this year.
“We’re going to continue to get tough on that,” Robinette said. “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.”
He said it’s going to take a group effort with similar events.
“You start teaching these young folks here at a very early age how important it is, and hopefully, they’ll pass it on to their children.”
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.