0

Newton County takes steps to keep roads clean of debris

Newton County has asked that the operators of the county’s 11 recycling centers limit the amount of trash that can be discarded in the bins so that trucks taking the refuse to the landfill do not risk having debris fly off onto roadways. (Staff photo: Julie Wells)

Newton County has asked that the operators of the county’s 11 recycling centers limit the amount of trash that can be discarded in the bins so that trucks taking the refuse to the landfill do not risk having debris fly off onto roadways. (Staff photo: Julie Wells)

COVINGTON — Nothing can make a community look trashier than, well, trash, and Newton County has taken steps to keep the roadsides as clean as possible, said County Commission Chairman Keith Ellis.

Ellis said that the county has taken some steps to try to improve the look of county roads and has other ideas in the works.

For example, he said, there had been complaints that trash being taken to the county landfill from the recycling centers would fly off the trucks as they were traveling down the road.

As a result, Ellis said the county has asked the company that contracts with Newton County to operate the recycling centers to reduce the height of trash allowed in the rolloff containers at the centers. Furthermore, a double covering is placed over the containers as they are hauled to the landfill he said.

“We like citizens to give us their comments because often it alerts us to issues that we may not have known about,” Ellis said.

The downside of these changes, though, is that the recycling centers will be filled more quickly and patrons may come to a facility and find they can’t dispose of their items because the bins are full.

Ellis said trucks already run six days a week from the county’s 11 recycling centers, so the only way to increase the frequency of pick-ups would be to purchase another truck and hire another driver, which would be cost-prohibitive at this point.

In the meantime, Ellis said the county is looking at other ways to keep the roads as free of trash as possible.

“The public pays two deputies to oversee community service workers gathering trash on the side of county roads every day,” Ellis said. “We have their route scheduled to stay in advance of the county bush hogs so that the mowers don’t chew up litter discarded on the sides of the roads.”

With 780 miles of county roads to cover, he said that each area is cleared about three times a year. The county will adapt, however, when needed, such as last year when grass at intersections grew taller and faster than normal due to high levels of rainfall.

In addition to coordinating with the county’s mowing schedule, Ellis said he would like to see if there is a way that community service workers could be used on weekends to clear roads around the recycling centers as well.

Ellis said he has other ideas, too, to help keep the county’s roads looking nice, but said it is challenging when there are so many state highways that run through Newton County. He said the Georgia Department of Transportation is responsible for cleaning and mowing state routes, and they generally get to Newton County only twice a year.

“There’s not much we can do on the state routes, but we continue to look at ways to keep our 780 miles clear,” Ellis said.

Anyone who has a suggestion or sees an area of need is asked to contact the Newton County Board of Commissioners at 770-784-2097 or online under the “I Want To…” tab on its website, www.co.newton.ga.us.