Let’s clean up our parish

Published 12:24 pm Friday, March 19, 2021

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In recent weeks my office and I have received numerous phone calls and messages regarding the trash along our parish and state highways. As you know, the trash on the state highways was routinely picked up by state prison inmates from the Department of Corrections but stopped during the coronavirus pandemic. Information I have received is that this service has just recently been reactivated and parish residents have noticed. Our Parish Government employees have also done an excellent job to physically walk the parish roads picking up trash only to have it re-accumulate within a matter of days.

The Washington Parish Transportation Department reports that its employees picked up over 4,090 bags of trash debris along our Parish and some State roads in 2020. This year in January and February and a portion of March, the Parish employees have already picked up 2,280 bags of trash from our Parish and some State roads. The Parish Government’s budget for our trash pick-up crew is $256,000 for five full-time employees and three part-time employees, plus $2,000 for trash pickup supplies. This does not include fuel and vehicle costs for these clean-up activities.

In the last Washington Parish Council Meeting I proposed the establishment of a “Washington Parish Clean-Up Committee,” consisting of three volunteer members of the council and three interested citizens. These volunteers will meet to begin organizing parish clean-up days in the very near future, and, most importantly, find ways to put an end to littering by educating the public, including school children from kindergarten to college seniors, so they can become community stewards and learn the essentials of being proactive in our community.

Although the Choctaw Road Landfill no longer offers recycling for plastics due to the economic impracticality, we can all still do our part to put an end to littering; to transform our lovely Parish back the beautiful community we all know it can be; and to be proud of Washington Parish. Littering is an anti-social act that is against the law.

My goal is to keep “litter” in the overall conversation here in Washington Parish, to make littering something people talk to each other about and, most importantly, DO SOMETHING ABOUT. Begin with being an example to your family, your children. Teach them the importance of not littering our roads, our parish, our state, our country, our earth.

With the upcoming Grand Opening of the Mountain Bike Trails in the Bogue Chitto State Park on April 10, now is the time to clean up our parish and keep it clean as we are certain this new addition to our state park will attract lots of people to our area.

Richard “Ned” Thomas Jr. is the Washington Parish President.