Officials: Education key to curbing litter

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2006

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
The Brewton community wants a cleaner county and will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
At Tuesday's litter meeting, members of the Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce, along with Quality of Life committee - an organization under the umbrella of Alabama Communities of Excellence - and Barbara McElroy from People Against a Littering State, it appeared that educating the young is the key to keeping a cleaner city and county.
Janice Castleberry, known to many in Covington County as the &#8220trash lady,” spoke to a packed out crowd at the Brewton Community Center.
Castleberry has been involved with PALS since 1990. She became associated with the organization after the flood of 1990, when &#8220everything came out of the bottom of streams and rivers to the top,” she said.
As a former secretary for the Covington County school system, Castleberry said she garnered a good connection with the schools. Through that connection she found that cleaning up the county spread with the education.
Several audience members and organizers remembered back when they attended grade school a campaign that promoted a litter free county. Small bags to be used to hold trash were passed out to all the school children. Many agreed that the clean up day was one of the most fulfilling days of their lives.
Educational programs through PALS are already in effect and can be acquired by any school interested in joining the campaign to clean up the county.
But it doesn't just stop with the children. It takes everybody to get fired up to move in the same direction.
Through her connections with the Covington County Commission, Castleberry said she had them give money from their budget to help promote the project. Following suit, every department of the county and city began to work together with the cleanup campaign.
Castleberry's hard work and dedication inspired members in the Brewton community to model her efforts and clean up the county.
The campaign to clean Escambia County was conceived after a study conducted by the Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority revealed that one of the biggest drawbacks in promoting industry in the county was its litter problem.
Wiley Blankenship, the organization's president, said Tuesday that during a tour of the county, one of the business prospects asked him, &#8220What's with the trash?” Blankenship was actually pleased with the negative comment.
Beginning April 22, a day many may know as Earth Day, residents are asked to meet at 8 a.m. at the City Park. Highways 31, 41 and 29 will be the main arteries to clean up, and at noon everyone who helped with the clean up will gather in the park for lunch and celebrate what has been accomplished.
The goal, organizers said, is to have those representing other communities to follow in the city of Brewton's foot steps and choose a date for their community to help clean up Escambia County.
Organizers said they want old and young to join together and make it something fun to do, not just something that has to be done.
Anyone interested can contact the Chamber, Hope Place or NDI for more information on how to get involved.

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