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Programs help to keep Shelby clean

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Picking up litter is full-time job

By Lisa King

Kathy Ranard's main concern is keeping Shelby County from becoming too trashy.

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She has her work cut out for her, but she is trying to stay ahead of the game with her Litter Abatement Program.

Ranard, the Clean Community coordinator, says that getting local people and organizations to “Adopt a Road” is also helping, as is using inmate labor to help offset the cost of cleaning up trash from roadways.

She stays busy coordinating inmate clean-up crews, supervising clean-up employees, and personally driving around the county to determine which roads need to be cleared of trash.

“Every month I select which roads for trucks to go to for a clean-up,” she said. “One truck does county roads, and the other does secondary roads.”

She said  that she has had 12 roads “adopted” so far. “We are the only county in the state that adopts a county road,” she said. “Other counties adopt only state roads.”

Ranard reported that the Litter Abatement crew cleaned up 790 miles of county state roads in 2008, and collected a total of 5,874 bags of litter, compared to 5,185 bags of litter in 2007.

She  says some roads get cleaned of trash two or three times a year.

“Forty-three is a terrible road for trash,” she said. “It goes from Boone's Station to Bagdad, and there's about a 3-mile stretch in there that's always got a lot of trash lying around.”

The interstate is another problem area, especially ramps, she said. “The ramp at Exit 32 is always a problem,” she said. “I wish people wouldn't throw their trash out of the car.”

Ranard  said if she can find out who threw out that trash – for example, if the person threw out some mail with their name on it – she will contact them to get them to clean it up. But that usually involves someone dumping a load of trash.

Sometimes residents call complaining about dumping in their areas, she said, citing High Point in Shelbyville as a particularly bad area for dumping trash.

In addition to overseeing the clean-up efforts, it's also her job to enforce the Nuisance Ordinance as well as the Litter Ordinance, she said. And she is the local coordinator for the annual Commonwealth Cleanup, which is held every spring.

The Nuisance Ordinance deals with unsightly articles, such as abandoned automobiles and other junk. “I also hold environmental programs, such as beautification efforts, that I put on for the school system,” she said.

To assist with these projects, she is using Class D inmates from the Shelby County Detention Center in daily clean-ups and uses an additional vehicle provided by Shelby County Solid Waste, which saved the county $51,766 in 2008 alone.

Sgt. Donald Ashbaugh, Class D inmate coordinator at the detention center, said the inmates pick up litter five days a week.

“We have two groups of three inmates each who go out Monday through Friday,” he said. “They go out on two different trucks. They've been doing that for as long as we've had the Class D program.”

For more information on signing up to adopt a road, call Ranard at 633-4774.