21 Dec Fearrington Village Adopt-a-Highway Volunteers
“Caution: Grandparents at Work (cleaning up your trash)!” That is the sign that some Fearrington Village volunteers in the NCDOT Adopt-A-Highway Program would like to have as they go about picking up debris along Highway 15/501 in Chatham (see the map). Perhaps this message would register on the offenders who thoughtlessly toss trash from vehicles.
Fearrington residents have adopted a two-mile stretch of U.S. 15/501, from the Jack Bennett Road intersection south to shortly below Mt. Gilead Church Road. By doing this work, volunteers improve the appearance of the roadway nearest their homes. Members find the exercise and the feeling of pride in keeping North Carolina “clean and green” personally rewarding.
The group consists of coordinators Bev and Ray Andrews and 45 members. Some are retirees, but not all. However, all are Fearrington residents. Initially, volunteers worked one morning every three months. As traffic has increased, so has the litter. It takes at least 15 of these committed Chatham citizens working two-and-a-half hours every other month to fill about 25 bags.
Fearrington Group members point out that there are patterns to “trash-tosser” behavior. Intersections with traffic lights accumulate food wrappers and drink containers. Apparently folks use the need to stop as the moment to finish food and toss the containers. Areas across from convenience stores have a large share of candy wrappers and the like as drivers gobble down their purchases. And now there is a new and growing source of trash: customers of the recently opened fast food restaurant several miles to the north seem to finish their food as they arrive at this stretch of highway and must be anxious to keep their vehicles clean, so they toss their trash!
Picking up litter is not for the faint of heart! Fearrington volunteers follow the NCDOT safety guidelines. All have seen the training video on safety and wear their orange vests when on the job.
There are 52 volunteer groups in Chatham County, covering 452.2 miles of roads, according to Anne Walker, N.C. State Adopt-A-Highway Coordinator. Littering is against the law. Drivers can be fined up to $1,000 for the first offense and $2,000 for the second. Plus, guilty drivers are penalized one point on their driver’s licenses. Litter is also expensive. Last year the state spent $16.6 million to remove 10.1 million pounds of roadside litter. Walker notes that volunteers saved the state $4.5 million in 2006.
There are three ways readers can assist: (1) volunteer to join an Adopt-A-Highway group or start your own group (contact Wanda Willett, NCDOT Chatham County Coordinator, phone 336-629-1423);
(2) report litter law violators to the NCDoT online; and (3) do not litter. Remember, those could be your grandparents out there!
Reprinted from:·http://www.chathamcountyline.org/(September 2007)
Rhoda Davis is a Fearrington resident. After many years writing for government programs, she now enjoys writing about Fearrington philanthropic activities.