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Athens considering enlisting civic groups in war against litter

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — City leaders are looking at increased enforcement and money-making opportunities for civic organizations to help combat litter.

Councilman Jimmy Gill suggested that Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful look at rewarding civic groups for attacking heavily littered areas. Councilman Ronnie Marks also wants the police to have an inmate litter crew and be diligent about issuing citations, and for Municipal Court Judge Don Mansell to penalize violators.

The fine for littering is $200 for a first offense and then $400 for additional offenses. The penalty includes community service picking up litter.

On Monday, the council discussed both propositions. It plans to have another work session on merging both ideas.

Police can issue citations for those they see littering, but police Capt. Marty Bruce said citizens also can swear out a warrant on someone he sees littering. It is then that person's responsibility to testify in court against the alleged litterbug.

KALB Coordinator Lynn Hart presented a proposal she wrote, based on Gill's suggestions, that would give civic groups about $300 a year for adopting a spot to clean. Boy Scout Troop 24 already has agreed to clean Lucas Ferry Road from Market Street to U.S. 72.

To do the program, Hart needs the council to appropriate $8,000 for her to buy supplies and give donations to the organizations. There are 16 target areas, many on major thoroughfares. Hart said those cleaning the heavy-traffic areas will need police officers present to protect them from traffic.

She wants streets signs that name the groups that have adopted the areas, and Marks want warning signs that display a number to call to report litterbugs and the fines for littering.

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