State littered with Adopt-A-Highway holes

Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter

December 18, 2013

State transportation officials renewed the contract of a local Adopt-A-Highway designee in 2012 even though the designee file fails to show any cleanup report since 2008.

The report lapse was discovered by transportation officials on Monday after a request was made to release documents showing the last three cleanups of CC Camp Road.

The discovery also led to the designee being informed he was not meeting the minimum amount of trash collections required by the state within a year to remain AAH compliant.

After learning the designee had only performed two litter pickups a year instead of the four minimum cleanups required, the DOT blitzed Elkin with inmates on Tuesday morning picking up much of the trash that has accumulated along CC Camp Road.

Several dozen filled orange trash bags lined CC Camp Road resembling a line of pumpkins.

“It was learned that Pirate’s Landing (the designee) was participating in a twice-a-year cleanup under the Litter Sweep campaign (a scheduled April and September statewide effort). However, the agreement requires a roadside litter cleanup four times a year, or more often if needed,” said Mike Causey, state coordinator for the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Office of Beautification. “There is a four-year agreement between the NCDOT and the Pirate’s Landing that was renewed in 2012 and remains in effect through 2016.”

According to the North Carolina’s Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) Program website, reports by volunteers assigned to a two-mile stretch of roadway for litter control are required to be called in or submitted after each litter collection effort.

Causey said that Pirate’s Landing has not submitted a report since 2008.

Theo Kakouras, owner of Pirate’s Landing said he has been turning in the reports.

“I’ve been submitting the information to the local DMV from the very beginning,” said Kakouras. “I don’t know who they talk to or what they’re supposed to do. I realize I made a mistake and thought cleanup was twice a year. I will do four times or more. I like my service.”

DOT officials would not respond to questions asking if record keeping on its end are up to par.

The trash jolt is due to accumulation of debris on vacant property directly in front of Walmart that has been left untouched for months, a stretch of parcel that’s looked upon as the first impression people see when visiting Elkin.

“It’s disgusting,” said Matt Smith, who was shopping at the Elkin Walmart. “Why don’t people stop littering?”

The vacant property is owned by Jemsite Development of Jefferson and Crosland/Barnes, a Columbia, S.C.-based land development firm that has experience with shopping centers, retail outlets and office complexes.

Along the vacant property is trash from Subway, an American fast food restaurant franchise that primarily sells submarine sandwiches (subs) and salads. A Subway is located inside of the Elkin Walmart.

Other trash found along CC Camp Road are from Starbucks and Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, beer cans, cigarettes, and household trash.

The roadway under the Pirate’s Landing scope encompasses Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, Taco Bell, the Fairfield Inn and Suites, and roadway through Interstate 77. Two signs advertising Pirate’s Landing’s adoption of the roadway are placed on CC Camp Road at each end covered by Pirate’s Landing.

Causey would not comment on why the Pirate’s Landing contract was renewed in the absence of required cleanup documents.

Causey said that receiving documentation is a common problem experienced by the AAH program.

“People are volunteers. We have to work around that reality,” he said.

“Litterbugs are the root cause of this problem. We can make the entire place cleaner if people would stop littering,” said Causey. “My documentation shows that on that street debris commonly falls out of cars like pickup trucks and even town garbage trucks.”

The town of Elkin contracts its garbage collection to Waste Management.

Calls to Waste Management pertaining to debris falling from its trucks were not returned.

Calls to Jemsite Development and Crosland/Barnes were not returned.

Causey said that the Adopt-A-Highway program has come a long way since its beginning 25 years ago.

The AAH was established in 1988 by the NCDOT in response to growing public concern regarding litter along the state’s highways. The AAH program is administered by the NCDOT Office of Beautification, and is a joint effort between community volunteers and the NCDOT. Its purpose is to decrease the amount of litter on North Carolina’s roadsides and improve the beauty and quality of the environment.

Causey said that Elkin can help make a difference by participating in the “Swat-A-Litterbug” campaign by calling in litter violations to 877-368-4968.

“Write down the license plate of the person littering. We’ll handle it from there,” said Causey.

Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 835-1513 or agonzalez@civitasmedia.com.