By Tamas Mondovics and Dennis Shekinah
Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor hosted a public meeting earlier this week to discuss the ongoing countywide litter issue. The group was hoping for a possible solution to prevent littering and maintain a clean county that befits its beauty and historical heritage. Aside from Taylor, commissioners Rick Snyder, Jerry Grindstaff, Scott Mast, and Megan McEwen were in attendance. Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester, Litter Officer Sandy Hammons, and County Attorney Perry Stout also were on hand to support the discussion. More than a dozen residents from varied districts also sat in to listen and contribute their ideas.
According to those present, “everyone recognized roadside litter has increased partly due to prisoners at the correctional facility being confined thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group also acknowledged that Hammons has been out of service for some time due to medical reasons. The discussion focused mainly on dealing with litter already along the roadways, though prevention received its fair share of attention. Asking fast-food restaurants to display signs urging patrons not to toss out their packaging and sponsoring an essay contest for school kids on how best to prevent litter and have school sports teams adopt a highway were three ideas debated.
Taylor reminded the group that the meeting’s itinerary was about the first steps in dealing with the existing problem. A Shady Valley citizen complained that “uncovered trash service trucks were a large source of the litter” before announcing that her neighbors were organizing a cleanup on April 10, which led to a motion to have a countywide cleanup on the same day. Commissioner McEwen stated that she and her neighbors had begun collecting litter in her district and hoped other commissioners would take the lead in the effort in their own districts.