MONROE, N.C. (WBTV) - You do not have to go far on Olive Branch Road in Monroe to see the efforts of people who live there to keep the place clean.
Like Loretta Melancon.
“It’s gotten better, but there’s still a problem,” Melancon says.
WBTV rode along with Melancon Monday. Her crew of volunteers called Union County Litter Busters just cleaned up last week, but there is still some trash along the road.
“I think we have picked up a total of about 14 tons in the last three years,” volunteer Mike “Wink” Winchester says.
That is three years of trying to encourage people on their way to the landfill nearby to make sure they are not letting go of their trash too soon.
“I kept thinking, ‘All I need to do is pick up once and it’s going to look pretty, and then people will want to keep it that way,’” Melancon says, with a grin. “Not!”
The county says it has tried its own methods, including emails and flyers, even charging double fees for people who show up to the landfill with unsecured loads.
“Really, until you hit them hard in the pocketbooks, most people just aren’t going to think about it,” Union County Solid Waste Director John Yvars says.
But even that has not seemed to cut it, so he is calling in the state Highway Patrol to enforce things, which will now likely hit those pocketbooks much harder.
“Basically, if you don’t have it covered right, you could get a pretty hefty fine, for littering or an unsecured load,” Yvars says.
Meanwhile, residents also try to appeal to their neighbors coming through.
“We have got to find how to reach people at the heart level, at the pride in their community level,” Melancon says.