By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Hoke County’s roadsides are suffering from a problem: from fast food wrappers to household furniture, they’ve become a dumping ground for all kinds of unsightly garbage.
“Couches – it’s embarrassing – mattresses,” Commission Chairman Harry Southerland said last week at the commission meeting, as he and Vice Chairman Allen Thomas listed off just a few of the types of garbage dumped on Hoke’s roadsides.
“There’s an issue with trash in Hoke County,” Southerland said. “It seems like it kind of started all of a sudden. We had our typical trash issues…but now, it’s bad, extremely bad. Pittman Grove Church Road, 401, Rockfish Road, Parker Grove Church Road, all these roads, there’s a tremendous amount of trash.”
The trash problem has been noted by many people over the past several years, with complaints sent in to the county board during public input sessions, and multiple letters to the editor at the News-Journal talking of flurries of trash piling up on some county roads in particular. But the recent issues appear to be far worse than usual, the board chairman said.
“We’ve been talking with the sheriff’s department, they’re going to try and help us find out what’s going on with it because it’s more than what’s usual,” Southerland said. “We want you to know we’re working on that.”
The residents of Hoke are clearly fed up with the problem, and have been reaching out to the commissioners to try and get something done.
“I get a lot of phone calls, I get a lot of emails, I get letters. I got a letter today, the whole board did, about this issue,” Southerland said.
The commissioners have previously taken steps in an attempt to get a handle on the littering, but it’s proven to be an uphill battle.
“We do have a company that we have a contract with that goes out…four days a week, and picks up trash. But even this company on contract with the county cannot keep up with all the trash that’s being just frequently, I’m telling you, intentionally dropped out on the side of the road,” the chairman said.
In an effort to push through the mess and beautify Hoke, the commissioners plan to take action to address the matter.
“We don’t know what the solution is in regards to finding out who’s doing it, but we’re going to fix the problem,” Southerland said. “First thing we’re going to do is we’re probably going to have to hire more help to keep the roads clean, because we cannot wait until we find out who the culprit is while we try to fix the problem. We’ve got to keep our county clean. We can’t be the best county, Hoke County, if you’ve got a mattress on the side of the road when you’re coming from Moore County into Hoke County.”
The county is also organizing a special roadside cleanup volunteer day to make a push to get some of the trash off the roadways. For four hours one Saturday morning, they’re hoping all Hoke citizens who are able will volunteer their time to tackle the problem.
“We’re going to have a county-wide Hoke County cleanup day, where Hoke County Commissioners and Hoke County employees, along with volunteers all throughout the county are going to pick a designated road, and we’re going to clean up that road on that particular day,” Southerland said.
The community cleanup day is set for Saturday, June 12 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., with a rain date of Saturday, June 19. People interested in volunteering should meet at the Robert A. Wright Agricultural Building on Palmer Street in Raeford.
“Take pride in your community and help clean up Hoke County. Invite neighbors, friends, and co-workers from your office, church, school and athletic teams,” a notice about the cleanup day stated.
Teams will be organized in their respective communities. The county will provide emergency vests, trash bags, gloves, masks, hand sanitizers, water and snacks for the cleanup day.
A volunteer planning meeting is set for Thursday, May 13 at 6 p.m. in the Robert A. Wright Agricultural Building.
To volunteer, or for more information, email Gwen McGougan, clerk to the board, at firstname.lastname@example.org.