On Saturday, January 29th, the Adopt-A-Highway group gathered at the Gathering Place and immensely improved the appearance of two miles of NC 15/501 next to Fearrington Village.  Fourteen (14) dedicated volunteers spent two hours picking up litter from the area that creates the first impression of anyone entering our community as well as those driving past.

Twenty (20) bags of trash were collected over a two-hour period of time.  Our ranks were enhanced by two new members:  Jon Darling and Deborah DiSabintino suffered through the orientation and helped our group maintain our property values.

Deborah is our new FHA Director of Community Relations and will be our primary contact with FHA.  Jon brings a wealth of experience from the academic community and beyond, and has been instrumental in facilitating the improvements in our presence on the FV website.

Those of us who regularly pick up the Fearrington Village Residents area take a measure of pride in what we contribute to the community.  We enjoy the honking of the horns that signify support for our efforts, but we are sometimes rewarded in other ways.  Some of our volunteers have actually picked up money; today this writer found a discarded postage stamp.  We measure our progress in very small increments.



fearrington.clenup.area“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.

cowsblueFearrington 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:· 2007)

Rhoda Davis is a Fearrington resident. After many years writing for government programs, she now enjoys writing about Fearrington philanthropic activities.