Decatur Daily

A Limestone County commissioner has proposed giving residents two days of their choice each year to put junk in the landfill without cost.

Decatur has expanded curbside pickup for household debris not produced by contractors. This will prevent trash from sitting out indefinitely as an eyesore.

The owner of a Lawrence County structure recently began cleaning up the outside of the building after a Moulton official said it would be torn down if not brought up to code.

All of these developments occurred in the past few weeks and are welcome. Efforts to clean up our area that began on the grassroots level have gained momentum. Let’s keep it up and do even more.

Nature gave the Tennessee River Valley in northern Alabama a spectacular landscape, and the federal government ensured that much of it would be protected for future generations.

Now, it’s the responsibility of local residents to keep their surroundings attractive.

Our first duty is to avoid contributing to the problem. We should never throw litter from car windows and should bag garbage properly.

Limestone County Commissioner Ben Harrison, who proposed giving residents the two undesignated days to take junk to a transfer station, said litter often comes from loose, unbagged garbage getting spread on windy days and from garbage spread when animals tear into bags left at the curb.

He said it would help if residents put garbage in bags, then in a container with an attached lid.

“I don’t want to put a bunch of rules” in place, “but we’ve got to do better,” Harrison said.

We all must do more. Our second duty is to take action. That includes helping clean up debris carelessly left by others and reporting problems.

Tennessee Riverkeeper sponsored a cleanup in Decatur last month and plans another one next week to clean more of the Dry Branch Creek area. The Feb. 16 cleanup will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with volunteers meeting at the corner of Washington Street Northwest and Davis Street near the Decatur Cemetery.

But you don’t have to wait on an organized cleanup. You can always commit to picking up trash you spot on your street or in a nearby park. Remember that plastics you pick up will be less likely to contribute to the growing threat of microplastics, which are tiny plastic particles, in the Tennessee River.

You can also report eyesores to the appropriate officials. For example, residents of Athens are encouraged to report acts of littering or illegal dump site locations to Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful. In Decatur, report illegal dumping in a vacant lot to Community Development at 256-341-4963.

Communities also can follow the example of Moulton Building Inspector Renay Saint. He got an out-of-county building owner to clean up a structure on Alabama 24 by warning that it could be torn down.

“I gave him a courtesy call, and he got busy cleaning it up,” Saint said. “The City Council hired me to do something about the eyesores around town. We have new ordinances allowing us to get serious with non-complying property owners.”

We should all be serious about keeping our communities looking good.

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