Tahlequah Daily Press


April 16, 2014

Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

TAHLEQUAH — If April’s a good time for folks to do spring cleaning in their homes, it’s also a good time to do spring cleaning outdoors. That was the impetus behind last Saturday’s communitywide trash pickup.

A number of citizens joined together to scour the area’s highways and byways, and anyone cruising through Cherokee County Sunday would have noticed a difference. The efforts of those who participated are appreciated not just by year-round residents, but by those who visit our county for its cultural and recreational offerings.

It’s a good thing many people do care about the environment and the appearance of the landscape, because so many don’t give a hoot – and the rest of us have to pick up after them. That’s because we know that our attention to these details will determine the growth and prosperity of Cherokee County in years to come.

Cherokee County has many positives, besides its lakes and river, rolling hills, clean air, and friendly folks who are always up for a parade. We have some negatives, too: We smoke too much, we’re overweight, and our wages are comparatively low. Those who live outside our borders know us for a couple of other things as well: our rash of bad drivers, and our serious dumping habit. The latter doesn’t just involve trash; the local problem of animal dumping is among the worst in the state.

We as individuals can only do so much about the animal dumping; there are limits to how many pets each of us can take in. But we can all work to reduce the amount of litter on our roadsides, and the number of wildcat dumps in our rural hollows.

First of all, resist the temptation to throw trash out your car window. It’s not too much trouble to keep that empty soda pop cup from the fast-food restaurant until you get home or to some other location with a waste receptacle. Take your own trash to one of the county’s solid waste transfer stations. Sure, it will cost you a few dollars, but isn’t it worth the money to keep our county beautiful?

Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let anyone you care about do it. The obvious advantage is you won’t be risking your life or that of someone else. But there’s another factor: People who drink and drive tend to get rid of their empties by chunking them out the window to get rid of the “evidence.”

If you see someone throwing out trash or using a wildcat dump, get the license number and report it to the nearest law enforcement agency. Take a photo of the activity if you can, and send it to us. We’ve found some law enforcement officers take such a situation more seriously when they think it might go public.

Pick up around your property, and encourage your kids to do so. Pass along the message that a dirty community is ultimately doomed to stagnate. Who, after all, wants to move their family or business into a town with no pride in its appearance?

Finally, participate in community cleanups, such as the one Saturday, April 19. This “free dump day” is a great opportunity for cheapskates. You have to be a residential customer of Tahlequah Public Works Authority to participate, but it’s from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the transfer station, 1851 N. Douglas Blvd. You can get rid of e-waste, computers, TVs, florescent bulbs, smoke alarms, and household pollutants. Anyone living in the county (not just on TPWA) can get rid of up to 25 tires. No explosives, commercial or agricultural waste, rock, dirty, brush or appliances with freon.

This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

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