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County: ‘our roads are a mess’

Several Decatur County commissioners agreed Tuesday that a proposed nuisance ordinance could help clean up litter-strewn roads and properties throughout the county.

Although no citizens spoke during a third public hearing on the proposed nuisance ordinance, Commissioner Butch Mosely said he was eager to begin doing more to combat litter.

“The litter problem … makes my blood boil,” Mosely said. “We need to do a better job of keeping the roads clean. It’s our responsibility to get [the litter] up … I’m ready to enforce the rules and clean this county up.”

Commissioner Russell Smith said he believed assigning more prison inmates to cleanup the roadside litter might help. In fact, Decatur County Correctional Institute has been paying special attention to litter in recent weeks, according to Board of Commissioners Chairman Palmer Rich.

Mosely suggested county commissioners consider appointing citizens to watch out for litter problems in different areas of the county and report back to commissioners every 30 to 45 days.

Commissioner Gary Phillips said some of the problems the nuisance ordinance aims to address have been present in his district—roughly encompassing northwestern Decatur County—since he first was elected to the board in 2006.

“A young child wrote me a letter last year about litter,” Phillips said. “We need stuff on the books to get tougher, increase the litter fines and tighten down.”

Lt. Rick Ashley, a Sheriff’s deputy who has experience with investigating trash dump sites that violate Georgia law, was present at the meeting and replied to Mosely’s question about litter.

“Highway litter is the toughest kind to enforce because there’s no witness,” Lt. Ashley said. “It’s a common problem on smaller roads, too. You see where people have littered exiting and entering subdivisions and approaching stop signs, where they throw out beer cans and fast food.”

Ashley said litter thrown out of vehicles is difficult to enforce without the community’s involvement.

“The times when we have had a witness give us [the litterer’s] vehicle description and tag number, we have been successful in prosecuting it through Magistrate Court,” he said.

County Planning Official Paul Souti told The Post-Searchlight about a portion of the proposed nuisance ordinance that could make a person responsible for an illegal trash dump if any articles containing their name, such as mail, was found at the dump site.

Decatur County Commissioners plan to hold an open work session to further review the proposed nuisance ordinance following a called meeting to discuss execution of bond documents on Thursday, March 12 at 1:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in the County Administration Building, located at 203 W. Broughton St. in Bainbridge.