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Community members step up for Johnson County

Litter Chicks’ Emme Cob (right) and JoEllyn Smith (left) work together to clean up Highway 167 during a recent spontaneous litter pick-up. Photo submitted by Dennis Shekinah.

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Area residents know all too well about Johnson County’s trash problem. Both city and county officials have discussed legislation to enforce removing large-scale eyesores, such as junk cars. Garbage litters places like the side of the highway, public streets, and parking lots. At this point, nothing has changed, but people around the community are taking steps to clean up the world around them to the best of their ability.

Local Dennis Shekinah went to Facebook to applaud two women for their work cleaning up Highway 167. This is not a one-off for Litter Chicks JoEllyn Smith and Emme Cob. Smith started the initiative after seeing trash littering the ground on her commute to work and hopes to eventually clear the entire 12-mile route She started the process around two years and provides all of the resources needed, such as bags. Cob joined her efforts later and County Litter Control Officer Sandy Hammons reached out offering to provide trash bags and pick up gathered trash.

“We just hope it encourages others to want to join us, or initiate their own clean-ups near their homes,” Cob explained. “We love a clean Johnson County and want to show it off in its natural beauty!”

People around the state of Tennessee are working towards fixing the litter issue. March is Keep Tennessee Beautiful Month and Friday, March 6, is the Great American Cleanup Kickoff virtual event. Both encourage cleaning up nature in your area.Others are pushing for cleaning up Johnson County specifically. According to Shekinah, the Hometown Service Coalition is working with a private citizen on anti-litter policies for the county. Several individuals throughout the county take it upon themselves to clean up around their neighborhoods as well. Both Cob and Smith report passersby sharing encouragement and tales of their efforts.

“There’s a whole group of us that have been working so hard the last two years, trying to bring awareness without scolding people but just making them aware of the effects it has,” said Channing Taylor, another local working towards beautifying the area.

Smith and Cob discussed starting a monthly cleanup for a grassroots group. Plans are still in the beginning stages, and Smith is considering making an organization Facebook page so willing volunteers can connect and work together. As Smith said, the area “deserves to be respected.” Keep an eye out for more news on the Litter Chicks and how to volunteer time beautifying the area.