MIKE WEST, Courier Editor
Discussion turned to Cannon County's growing litter problem during Saturday's County Commission meeting.
"Really we need to wage a war on litter," said Commissioner Richie Hunter. "We have such a beautiful county that doesn't need to be blighted by litter."
A particular problem is litter accumulating along the side of the newly completed four-lane extension of state Route 70S, Hunter said.
"We've asked the state to put up anti-littering signs on the new road," said County Executive Mike Gannon. "From what I been told they will carry a substatual fine that can be as much as $1,500."
Gannon said littering is hard to comprehend in light of Cannon County's free solid waste disposal program. "We're open 60 hours a week at the center."
Commissioner Glenn Steakley said littering remains a major problem in his district, particularly on Parch Corn Road.
"We don't have people dumping old refrigerators down there any more, but there's a substantial amount of trash that's still being dumped in the creek," Steakley said.
Increased public knowledge of the problem is part of the answer, along with increased enforcement of the litter laws, Hunter said.
The county does pick up litter along the side of the roads, Gannon said. The crews are instructed to look for names, receipts and that sort of thing. If they are found, the names are turned over to the Sheriff's Department for prosecution.
Citizen Thea Prince reminded those in attendance of Tennessee's Department of Transportation anti-littering that features an online form to report litterers. It's available at www.stoplitter.org or at http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/environment/beautification/litter.asp
Citizens can also call 1-877-8-LITTER. They can also upload photos of litter to the stoplitter website.
Commissioner Mark Barker highlighted another problem facing Cannon County ... stray dogs and cats.
"I got a call from Mr. Taylor in the Burt-Burgen area about stray dogs," Barker said. "I had hoped he would be at today's meeting."
"I have somebody calling nearly every week about stray dogs," agreed Chairman Gannon, who said the county, at one point, had set aside a quarter acre of property for a dog shelter. But the group disbanded before anything was done.
"That's way in the future. We've got many more pressing issues," Barker said.
Stray dogs and littering are two big problems, pointed out citizen Jim Gibbs. Neutering programs are more effective than dog shelters.
"Dog shelters are like jails," Gibbs said, suggesting a campaign on the consequences of not spaying or neutering pets.
"The PAWS program in Rutherford County could perhaps be helpful," added Thea Prince, pointing out the director of PAWS is a log-time Cannon County resident.