Webster Parish Police Jurors say two of the biggest issues they deal with are roads and litter – litter being one of the most prevalent.
Sheriff Gary Sexton addressed the jury Tuesday to talk about what’s being done to curb litter along the parish’s roadways. However, he says, they’ve been working on keeping the state highways clean since the state stopped picking up litter.
“The state has quit picking up our roads and I have kicked the trash can, along with Claiborne Parish Sheriff Ken Bailey, because a couple of parishes still get theirs picked up by the state,” he said. “They were coming over and picking up our inmates and using our inmates. They furnished the guard, the truck and the van.”
He says the state is still picking up litter in Union and Lincoln parishes. One crew, along with the police jury’s crew, is picking up trash on roadways every day, and they have even started picking up litter along the state roads.
“It’s a reflection of our parish, and it’s our people that’s throwing it and it’s other people that are coming through,” Sexton said. “Our guys have been informed that we don’t give any breaks on litter. If somebody throws something out, they get a ticket and they go straight to the district attorney’s office.”
The problem is so bad, he says, that not only do the two crews work every day, he’s even asked some of his reserve officers to come in and oversee the inmates to pick up litter on the weekends.
They cannot use state inmates unless a commissioned officer is there to guard them, Sexton added.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has agreed to pick up bags of garbage if the parish or inmate crew can get it picked up and bagged, he said.
Police Jury President Jim Bonsall says they discuss this issue all the time and it frustrates him that citizens don’t take more pride in their parish.
“I would hope that more people would take pride even if it’s just keeping it clean in front of their house,” he said. “I do not understand why people throw those paper sacks outside the window when it’s just as easy to throw it away when you get out of your truck. I understand a cup blowing out of the back of your truck every now and then. I’m talking about people deliberately throwing their trash out.”
Bonsall says the police jury office has received numerous phone calls from people asking permission to pick up litter in their neighborhoods, and he feels the idea is a good one.
He says he’d like to see an additional crew that could pick up the worst areas a few days a week. Sexton says they are already rigging out another trailer with all the necessities for a litter crew.
One of the ways Sexton says to combat the problem is through education. Through the DARE program, he says he wants to start educating students again about the issue. Joan Almond, with the Webster Parish AgCenter, says their 4-H kids can get out there and help pick up litter too.
“Years ago, our 4-H clubs highlighted citizenship as one of our focuses and got kids involved in picking up trash in their communities and around their schools,” she said. “I see that as an opportunity. We targeted older kids and did a lot of promotion for that, and we’re going to try to do that again this spring towards that effort and helping kids have more pride in their community.”
Sexton reiterated litter is a community issue.
“This reflects on the community you live in,” he said. “Don’t throw your litter out. Throw it on the floorboard of your car until you get home. It’s something we’re going to have to work on as a community. This is a problem, and there’s not an easy solution to it. It’s going to be the pride of our community, educating our children.”