State to audit Surry County litter program

Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter

December 20, 2013

All Adopt-A-Highway program contracts in Surry County will undergo an immediate audit by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Beautification, its program state coordinator said on Wednesday.

The audit will be conducted over the next two weeks.

The audit is in response to a second Adopt-A-Highway contract in Elkin that was discovered on Wednesday not being in compliance with state mandated reporting on litter cleanup.

“I’ll be personally handling this matter. I’m calling each contract volunteer to determine the activity and to determine if filings are up to date,” said Mike Causey, state coordinator for the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Office of Beautification. “This will be handled over the next couple of weeks.”

There are 43 active contracts on file in Surry County — each are required to submit documentation that lists the amount of garbage bags collected and the date service was performed.

According to contract terms, clean-up efforts are required a minimum of four times per year, or as often as needed. In exchange, the contract vendor receives two signs placed by DOT on each end of a two-mile stretch advertising the volunteer participation.

State officials examined local cleanup efforts and discovered file delinquencies.

A local coordinator on DOT payroll is designated over the program. Curt Riggins handles Allegheny, Surry, and Yadkin county efforts.

Causey said he was not sure how many contracts under Riggins management are not in compliance and said he needed an opportunity to review all contracts.

The litter jolt started on Monday after state officials discovered documentation for 2013 cleanups of a portion of CC Camp Road missing from its files.

Causey said his office had no paperwork on file since 2008 for Pirate’s Landing, an Elkin eatery that is in contract and required to handle the section of CC Camp Road subject to litter problems.

Pirate’s Landing owner Theo Kakouras said he thought he was required to participate in CC Camp cleanup twice a year instead of four times and agreed to remedy the situation.

Addressing the reporting delinquency, Kakouras disputes the claim of not calling in his work over the years saying said he had been submitting information verbally to the local transportation maintenance office staff, the same office used by DOT to provide supplies to volunteers such as garbage bags and safety gloves.

“I don’t know who they talk to or what they’re supposed to do,” said Kakouras on Tuesday. “I realize I made a mistake and thought cleanup was twice a year. I will do four times or more. I like my service.”

“You can’t provide information to a DOT maintenance worker. You have to call it into the local coordinator or visit our website,” said Causey. “DOT employees in each maintenance office have different job descriptions.”

After learning Pirate’s Landing 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.

The Tuesday blitz by inmates cleaned up the roadway beyond Pirate’s Landing jurisdiction and continued west along Highway 268.

Causey discovered a second AAH contract belonging to Elkin Rescue Squad is also delinquent in its reporting. The Elkin Rescue Squad is assigned to a different section of CC Camp Road.

“They don’t have any reports this year on file either,” said Causey.

The Elkin Rescue Squad has not returned a call seeking comment.

Causey said the reporting requirements are placed within each contract.

“Even though the terms are in writing, it might be time for greater outreach to volunteers,” said Causey.

According to Causey, Allegheny and Yadkin county records also will be reviewed.

“I’m concentrating on Surry County first,” he said.

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