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Valley community group forms anti-litter committee

VALLEY — The Neighborhood Pride anti-litter campaign made a stop at the Pine Forest Congregational Christian Church Thursday evening to organize a committee for the Todd Addition neighborhood.

Valley Council Members Randall Maddux and Jim Clark were there, along with Neighborhood Pride Organizer David Bell, to talk to church members and nearby residents.

Waterford residents Derrick and Martha Rutledge were present and expressed their support for what Neighborhood Pride is trying to do.

“We’d like to see a community effort,” Derrick Rutledge said. “People don’t need to be throwing trash out their car windows onto the streets and parking lots.”

Martha Rutledge said parents should be setting good examples to their children by not littering.

“When kids see their parents doing it, they do it too,” she said. “There’s a new law in Alabama people need to know about. They need to know what the fines are.”

The Alabama Legislature has elevated littering from a Class C felony to a Class B. The minimum fine for those who get caught is $500 and can go as high as $3,000 for a single incident. It could also put an offender in jail for up to six months.

It’s not just the police who are looking for this. Citizens who see this can report tag numbers and descriptions of vehicles. This can result in people being fined for littering.

Bell has been encouraged by the community response he has seen so far.

“Jim Clark and his wife have got the ball rolling on this in Shawmut,” he said. “We already have committees cleaning up litter on the Circle and 29th Boulevard. Members of the Shawmut Church of the Nazarene are caring for the section of road running by the church.”

Bell is also pleased with the response he recently got at a meeting of the River View chapter of Neighborhood Watch.

“We will be going back to River View and hope to get a committee organized,” he said. “We will also be talking to people in Langdale and in the Fairview area.”

Litter committees in participating neighborhoods are made up of volunteers who live in the area. There are no more than five members of the committee, and there’s a committee coordinator who manages committee activities.

“The City of Valley has been very supportive of us,” Bell said. “There have been at least two council members at every meeting we’ve had. They have given us trash bags to put the litter in and reflective vests for our volunteers to wear when they are out picking up litter.”

Bell said Neighborhood Pride is a grassroots effort of local citizens with the simple goal of making Valley an even better place to live.

“It is structured in small groups of residents who agree to accept responsibility for their immediate surroundings only, working to achieve results collectively,” he said.

Once a Neighborhood Pride Committee has been in operation for at least three months, the city will erect a sign identifying the area as a Neighborhood Pride Zone.

“This will serve as a warning to litter violators,” Bell said. “They will know they’d better keep their trash in their cars because people who live in the area not only pick up litter and dispose of it properly, they are also on the lookout for those who are throwing trash out their car windows.”