The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, the Oconee Economic Alliance, the Keep Oconee Beautiful Association and the School District of Oconee County announced yesterday that the Great Oconee Clean Up has been set for Saturday, April 22nd that will help to make a portion of Highway 123 litter free.
The event, which will be held on Earth Day, will begin at 8:15 with registration in the parking lot of NewSpring Church, which is located just off Highway 123 near Highway 93 just outside of Clemson. The litter pickup portion of the event will begin at 9am and last until Noon. Free parking in the parking lot of NewSpring church will be provided and transportation to the litter pickup locations will be provided by six activity buses from the School District of Oconee County that will be running throughout the event.
Citizens can register the day of the event but individuals are encouraged to pre-register by going to www.investoconeesc.com/upcoming-events/. By pre-registering, the organizers will have a better idea of the numbers of those who will participate and also be able to prepare resources accordingly. Those who are participating in the litter pickup must sign a release form before they can participate. Those picking up litter will also be provided a reflective vest and gloves and/or a grabber.
The first 200 registrants will received a free t-shirts. Anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
The litter pickup area for the event will be a five mile stretch of Highway 123 from the Clemson River Bridge near Clemson to the East End Intersection in Seneca on Highway 123 at Highway 130. The activity buses providing transportation will drop individuals off at half-mile intervals and a law enforcement officer will be on each bus to provide safety information before the actual pickup work begins in order to warn volunteers on litter that could dangerous to handle, such as hypodermic needles and shake and bake meth labs. The buses will also bring those who volunteer back to the parking lot of NewSpring Church after the event is over.
In regards to safety, the Sheriff is asking those who participate to not step onto the roadway or asphalt but stay on the side of the road in the area in which you are dropped off and then those individuals will be picked up on that side of the highway. If someone is dropped off in the grassy median, according to the Sheriff, you will be picked in in the grassy media in that area.
Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office as well as troopers from the South Carolina Highway Patrol will be assisting with traffic control and safety. The organizers are working with the South Carolina Department of Transportation to have signs out to help with directions and safety for all those involved.
“Litter has been an issue that has been on my mind for some time as Sheriff of Oconee County. Starting early on in 2013 I began to think about litter after coming into office,” says Sheriff Crenshaw.
The Sheriff’s Office implemented an inmate litter crew in 2014 and since that time, according to the Sheriff, over 19,000 pounds of litter has been collected. The Sheriff’s Office does have a full-time Environmental Services officer who investigates litter complaints and issues citations and oversees the inmate litter crew as they are out picking up litter on average of about two days a week. As the Sheriff stated during a get together recently with the media, everyone has a stake in making Oconee County litter free.
“When I think about litter, it is a law enforcement issue and we need to do more but it is also a community issue and we need to get everyone involved,” continues Sheriff Crenshaw. “I am inviting our citizens but also our elected officials, leaders of our cities, our local governments, our state leaders, our Senators and our Representatives and everyone; I am encouraging them to get involved.”
The Sheriff does not want this event to be a one-time but hopefully a springboard to a more concerned effort going forward about the litter issue in Oconee County.
“We don’t want this to be a three hour event on Saturday morning, April 22nd,” states Sheriff Crenshaw. “We want to go forward with this and really throughout the next year and beyond to make this a yearly event, perhaps on multiple days throughout the year. Individuals and groups and civic organizations can go and pick up litter throughout the year, not just on the day(s) of this event.”
Any questions concerning The Great Oconee Clean Up can be directed to Leanne Cooper with Oconee Economic Alliance at 864-638-4210 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.