GREENSBORO, N.C. (WFMY) — Rockingham County leaders have a message for litterbugs across the county: put your garbage in a trash can or else pay a hefty fine.
Officials and residents say littering is an issue they desperately want to be fixed and they are fed up with the situation.
“Littering has been a problem on the roadsides in Rockingham County for many, many years,” said resident David Spear.
There are several signs along the roads that warn of a $1,000 littering fine but people aren’t taking the message seriously.
“You bring a cooler of beer, throw your beer cans back in your cooler, take them home, everyone knows you don’t need to be bringing beer bottles to the lake,” complained Monty Roberts, who lives not too far from Jacob’s Creek.
The litter gets worse than just cans. Driving along N.C. Highway 704, one could find old tires, plastic bottles, and styrofoam by the side of the road.
To help with the problem, volunteer inmates are constantly out cleaning up trash. Crews have been collecting anywhere between 30 to 100 bags of trash daily, according to Rockingham Couty Sheriff Sam Page.
But officials say people are throwing so much trash on roads that the inmates who help with the clean up can’t keep up.
“It’s just irresponsible adults and we need to be thinking about our environment and what we are leaving for our tomorrows,” added Roberts.
Even the sheriff isn’t spared from people chucking trash out the window.
“It’s a cutover road where I live and people throw out trash right onto my yard right in front of my house. It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Page.
He and other county leaders said they have had enough and will start enforcing a zero tolerance policy on littering. They will begin cracking down on people who litter in hopes of getting to the source of the problem.
“If you see someone throw trash out of their vehicle, we ask that you report it to local law enforcement,” said Rockingham County Commissioner Kevin Berger.
“We are zero tolerant to trash and people littering on our streets and highways and if we see that, you are going to receive a citation,” added Page.
Littering is a class 3 misdemeanor in North Carolina. First-time offenders can face $250 dollars in fines, but it can go up to $1,000.
If littering continues, fines could go up to $2,000 and could lead to community service.
County leaders said they will also start education programs to bring awareness in schools and in the community.