ROCKINGHAM — “This is sad,” said Allison Sweatt as she video recorded piles of garbage strewn across the parking area at the end of Blewett Falls Road near the hydroelectric dam Thursday morning.
“Look at all this trash,” she continued. “How does this make us look? What are we gonna do about it, y’all?”
Sweatt said on her Facebook page that she had rode down to the dam “to be with nature and all I see is garbage.”
The first thing she did was post photos and the video to her Facebook page.
“It makes me sad to go down there and see baby wipes, Corona cases (and other garbage),” she told the Daily Journal a few hours after posting the video. “It’s where I grew up and I’d like to see it beautiful again.”
Around the parking area are mostly glass beer bottles and plastic soda and water bottles. Other refuse found at the site includes cigarette packs and cigar wrappers, diapers, a pizza box and several items of clothing.
Sweatt also noticed that there were no trash cans in the area.
“The lake services representative said there is often a tendency for people to dump more household waste when there are trash receptacles present, so not all unimproved sites currently have receptacles,” said Kim Crawford, a spokesperson for Duke Energy, which owns the property but allows the public access.
Crawford added that company workers will be visiting the site on Friday.
“We spend so much money trying to make our county beautiful and one of the most beautiful areas here looks like crap,” she wrote on her post.
In the comments, Sweatt tagged county commissioners Kenneth Robinette, Ben Moss and Don Bryant, asking, “What can be done.”
Robinette answered that the county is addressing the problem and will have it on the agenda for the next commissioners’ meeting, adding, “but it’s going to take a county effort.”
Before the day was out, Sweatt had organized a cleanup day, set for Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 10 a.m.
County Manager Rick Sago, after speaking with Sweatt, said that the county will help out with whatever is needed to get the garbage picked up and taken to the landfill.
Robinette Thursday night said he plans to be out there helping in the effort and will provide lunch and drinks for all the volunteers.
The county has recently been cracking down on littering, issuing citations and fines.
“It is a problem…it’s everywhere,” Robinette said, adding that it reflects poorly on the county and can effect economic development.
“We’re going to do everything we can to stop this littering,” Robinette said. “We’re hoping the court system will take it seriously, as well.”
This isn’t the first organized cleanup near Richmond County waterways this year.
In February and March, volunteers ranging from city employees to workers at several local businesses to regular residents gathered together to pick up garbage along Hitchock Creek near the Cascades and von Drehle plants.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.