WYTHEVILLE – Last year, Wythe County officials introduced an anti-littering campaign aimed at cleaning up the county’s roadways.
Through this initiative, local leaders launched an inmate clean-up program; something they say collected over 11,000 lbs. of highway litter in its first three months of operation.
Other activities have included a public relations campaign entitled “Trash Litters,” which has been instrumental in both discouraging litter and encouraging recycling.
Local law enforcement officers have added teeth to the countywide campaign by taking a proactive effort in litter enforcement, according to Wythe County Spokesperson Jeremy Farley.
In addition to installing several hidden cameras in areas that have been notorious for illegal dumping, law enforcement officials say they have netted 31 littering charges since 2013.
Wythe County Sheriff Doug King says his officers are always on the lookout for lawbreakers.
“When littering is observed by law enforcement, action is taken,” King said.
King’s words are echoed by Wythe County code enforcement officer A.B. Dunford, who says his department is ramping up their litter enforcement.
Dunford said littering in Wythe County has been a problem in the past and this year, officers have taken a hardline stance when it comes to offenders.
“Littering is a serious crime,” said Dunford. “It is a class–1 misdemeanor and an officer can arrest you for it. The penalties for littering could be as severe as up to 12 months in jail.”
According to Dunford, even what had previously been deemed as a minor infraction – such as flipping a cigarette butt out a window – can result in a $250 minimum fine.
Just weeks ago, a local littering conviction resulted in a $1,000 fine for an individual found guilty of improperly disposing of his trash.