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Budget cuts could mean more litter on N.C. highways

Posted June 5, 2009

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— Shoring up the state's budget could mean a mess for state highways. The House budget proposal calls for cutting the money that pays for inmate crews to pick up the debris of consumer culture that clings to the road sides.

The state Department of Transportation pays the state Department of Correction $11.3 million a year for litter cleanup. The budget being considered in the state House would cut that amount by 20 percent.

Inmate crews patrol 6,400 miles of roadway each year, stuffing orange bags with trash. A funding cut could mean fewer crews and more of a mess.

Budget cuts could mean more litter on N.C. highways Budget cuts could lead to more litter

Grays Creek resident Faye Jackson sees the value in the program.

“I think there's too much litter on the roads,” she said.

"These convicts need to be doing something … to be working! It's good for them," she added.

Authorities declined to speculate on how the cuts would affect the program.

“It’s a proposal right now, out of a committee,” said George Dudley, a spokesman for the Dept. of Correction. He said it’s too early to know what kind of impact it would have.

“It’s hard for me to say how it will affect roadside cleanups,” said George Kapetanakis, roadside beautification director for DOT.

If the inmates are not available, would more regular citizens keep our highways litter-free?

"It would help if people did decide to get involved a little more," said Lynn Hughes. Hughes coordinates the Adopt-A-Street program in Fayetteville. She has nearly 80 groups of volunteers that tidy up the roadsides.

“We're the ones who dirty it up, so I think we're the ones that should clean it," she said.

“I have a 70-year-old lady who does her street by herself,” Hughes added.

There are more than 6,000 Adopt-A-Highway volunteer groups statewide. Hughes thinks that number that might grow if inmate labor shrinks.

Terry Raeford, of Cumberland County, doesn’t see a clear cause and effect if the inmate program is cut. “People don’t have a genuine concern to get out and pick it up. They’re still gonna continue to throw it out,” he said.

“Citizens will just have to step it up and get out and pick up some trash,” he said.


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  • nufsaid Jun 5, 2009

    This is a well worn tactic. Ignore all the cuts that should be made and propose cuts that the general public will find unacceptable. Then raise taxes. It is still used because it has always worked in the past.

  • oldrebel Jun 5, 2009

    Start busting people for littering and as part of their "rehabilitation" sentence them to being part of organised groups to pick to trash and litter.

  • Worland Jun 5, 2009

    There seems to be a small segment of the NC population who are absolute pigs. You can travel from one end of this country to the other and never see as much trash along the roadways as you do here.

    Almost every day, someone driving in front of me will throw trash out their car window. Even better, they'll toss their still burning cig out the window, which seems destined to bounce off the pavement and right onto my hood/windshield. Garbage trucks seem to lose a lot of their load too. I've never seen anything like it anywhere else.

  • silverflash Jun 5, 2009

    I absolutely refuse to help clean up the roads. Why? Because in my 39 years of life, I have never littered! I know it's not right. You've got to be a moron to think it is. Let the inmates continue to do it and then, those caught littering pick up the slack. I will not be the one picking your nasty garbage up because I am an adult and adults should not be littering in the first place...

  • PeaceOut2017 Jun 5, 2009

    Make welfare recipients pick up the trash or else cut off their taxpayer paid handout

  • connie2006 Jun 5, 2009

    earlier this week i went to the post office in morrisville, the on Hwy 54. there was a lady and a man pulled off on the side of the entrance dumping the litter from their fast food meal onto the grassy area. I pulled up next to them in my truck and politely motioned them to roll down the window...my intent to tell them that was not legal... do you know she wouldn't roll the window down because she knew what she was doing was wrong. Interesting how much people are afraid to be told how wrong they are. It's not like I was a cop or anything!!!I've never seen a 280lbs.(approx) woman shy away from a 120 lb woman. bold enough to litter in public but not to talk to be accused of it. HUH....

  • mjeffrey Jun 5, 2009

    heres a radical idea,
    How about people not littering in the first place. How hard is it to wait until you get home or to a place that has a trash can or recycle bin so that you can dispose of it properly instead of just throwing it out the window, which is just plain lazy. If people don't litter in the first place, then the state wont have to spend the money to clean it up. Do your patriotic duty to save the taxpayers money and to keep the roadsides looking clean and don't litter.

  • rholt2 Jun 5, 2009

    Instead of calling it quits on inmate labor to clean up our roads, how about eliminating the roads beautification program!

  • are you kidding me Jun 5, 2009

    More scare tactics! Criminals should be sleeping along the road they plan to clean up next. There should not be one piece of trash on the road given all the worth criminals that we house in this state!

  • colliedave Jun 5, 2009

    Inmates get pennies on the dollar for their work. Please explain how it costs DOT 11 mill for the work? Correctional Officers get paid regardless of the location. Transportation costs cannot eat up the remaining costs. Must have a very large overhead costs