One Bag Challenge off to great start

Pulaski County logoBy MIKE WILLIAMS

Patriot Publishing


Some 100 people have participated in the first month of this year’s One Bag Challenge litter campaign in Pulaski County.

“One Bag Challenge is a board initiative asking everyone in the county to go out and pick up at least one bag of trash,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Laura Walters.

Participants can send in a picture of their orange bag full of trash to the county for recognition on the county’s website.

Those wishing to participate can first come by the County Administration Building and pick up the bags, gloves and “grabbers” needed to pick up trash.

Walters said those who pick up roadside trash can leave the orange bags on the roadside, and they will be picked up by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Walters said this year, the county is working with the School Board to get county school students involved in the effort.

For March, Walters said 563 bags of trash have already been collected and the Challenge runs through June.

Along with the trash, she said already 543 tires have been picked up along county roads.

Walters said some residents don’t stop at one bag, with several collecting as many as 56 bags during the month.

As an added incentive to participate both the Board of Supervisors and School Board will each month award three $100 gift cards to participants during drawings held during their respective board meetings.

Winners in the supervisors’ drawing Monday night were: NRV Fleet Services (15 bags, one tire and roofing materials), Malcolm and Janet McNew (9 bags) and Krista Lindsey (34 bags, one tire and car parts).

Prior to Walters’ report on the One Bag Challenge, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Brett Downey made several comments about litter in the county, safety and the use of jail inmates to pick up trash.

“The sheriff’s office encourages everyone to participate in One Bag Challenge, but do so safely,” Downey said. “Some of the roads around here aren’t the widest. Also, you have to be careful about critters and you have to be careful about what you pick up.  You have no idea what some people have slung out their car window as they go down the road.”

Downey said in Virginia, littering and illegal dumping are criminal offenses punishable by up to 12 months in jail, $2,500 fine, community service or a combination of these.

He said the sheriff’s office is enforcing litter laws whether the guilty party is caught in the act, on camera by a property owner or in an area where a property owner has asked the sheriff’s office to place a camera in litter trouble spots.

“We even had one deputy dig through a large amount of trash and find information allowing him to track down the guilty party that way,” Downey said.

Regarding the use of inmates in picking up trash, Downey said that at this time and in the foreseeable future, “there are no inmates available to assist with roadside trash pickup.”

He said only certain inmates would qualify to pick up trash.

Downey said those who have committed non-violent offenses usually qualify, but due to changes in the criminal justice system, “those who did qualify for that duty are no longer available,” he continued.

He reminded citizens that there are currently three drop sites available in the county – in Dublin and Fairlawn and the Town of Pulaski site behind the sheriff’s office. Also, bulk items pickup is available through the county Public Service Authority or GFL in the town.

County Administrator Jonathan Sweet noted that the litter issue in the county is important not only to the sheriff’s office but to every official, agency and citizen in the county.