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Sprucing things up: Residents work to clean up community

Staff Photo: Karen J. Rohr. Linda Scott, accompanied by her two dogs, picks up trash along East View Road, which runs in front of her neighborhood, the Woodbridge subdivision in Conyers.

Staff Photo: Karen J. Rohr. Linda Scott, accompanied by her two dogs, picks up trash along East View Road, which runs in front of her neighborhood, the Woodbridge subdivision in Conyers.

On a hot and humid Tuesday morning, Linda Scott meanders down East View Road, pulling a cart behind her mounted with two trash buckets and a handmade sign that says "please don't litter."

She stops every few feet and uses a garbage grabber to pick up trash -- cigarette butts, plastic bottles, trash bags, pieces of crumpled up paper. Items that can't be recycled go in one bin and plastic, paper, aluminum and glass go in the other.

For three years, she's walked the roads surrounding her Conyers neighborhood, the Woodbridge subdivision, cleaning up. Some people stop in their cars and say thank you; one couple even gave her $10.

"On East View Road, just outside the subdivision, the city does what they can do, but people litter out there so much they just can't keep up with it," she said.

"I don't understand littering, I don't comprehend it. It really makes a difference in what areas look like and it affects property values. It's the broken window syndrome."

Scott is one of several neighbors from Woodbridge working to improve their community. While Scott concentrates her efforts on litter, others work on landscaping and sprucing up the entrance to Woodbridge, a subdivision established in the 1970s.

Woodbridge residents for 22 years, Jeff and Debbie Stephens decided the sign leading into the subdivision needed replacing. A former welder with carpentry skills, Jeff Stephens took the old sign down and built a new one, taller than the former with "Woodbridge" in metal, painted gold, written in cursive across the top.

"It's a really beautiful sign," Scott said.

Stephens said that while he was working on it, neighbors stopped by to chat and thank him.

"It just shows me that they do care about their neighborhood," Stephens said. "It's nice to know that people still do care."

Scott moved into the neighborhood about 12 years ago and during that time she said the number of owner-occupied homes has decreased and rental homes have increased, a trend that has resulted in more calls to code enforcement, she said.

"We've got a lot of rentals in here now, so with those we try and keep an eye in making sure that the owners have their tenants keep their places clean," Scott said.

Scott said she chose to live in the subdivision because of the creeks and streams that run through it and the numerous trees and greenspace. She said plants, insects and wildlife thrive in the area.

"I'm what you would call a very environmentally conscious person," Scott said.

When the weather is good, about every other day Scott walks East View, Roland and Pine Log roads, nearby Rockdale County High School and C.J. Hicks Elementary School.

She hopes that her presence on the roadway makes a difference.

"To me, it sends a message to people, when school is in and the kids are on the bus, maybe it leaves an impression for them," Scott said.

Scott has also worked with Lamar Gourley, and other neighbors including Ed and Zenia Slay, to improve the island at the Woodbridge entrance, pulling out junipers and replacing them with mulch and flowers. Gourley also recently spruced up the Boar Tusk Nature Trail, Scott said.

"We just kind of do our thing. It's just neighbors caring about the neighborhood," Scott said.

Scott expects neighbors to come together in the fall to lay new sod at the entrance to Woodbridge.

"With the rising crime and everything in the area. If people are able to and have the time, like I do, just go out and do a little bit, just right around their little area, it would make huge difference in Conyers and in the county," Scott said.