A medley of civic-minded citizens are making the most of the current times by taking to the streets to combat the blight of litter on Oconee’s streets and roads, all while practicing social distancing. 

The University of Georgia’s dean of Grady College, Charles Davis, has spent some of his down time during the past few weeks picking up litter along county roads. 

While many people may retire for the evening after work hours, Davis said that that is when he commences his litter-retrieving endeavors.

“My litter hobby begins when my workday slows down, around 6 p.m., and I’ll often go until dusk,” he said. “It’s somehow relaxing and therapeutic, and I get in the zone!”

Davis explained that the inspiration to help clean up came to him the day after the shutdown started in Athens when he was driving down Clotfelter Road.

Like many other county residents, he said that he was bothered by the litter lining Clotfelter. 

“I always thought I should do something about it, and then suddenly, I had some free time,” Davis said. “And so I thought to myself, here is a perfect social distancing activity.” 

He considered his efforts thus far rewarding. Although he has now moved to Athens, Davis added he still plans to come back and clean some of his beloved Oconee back roads from time to time. 

“I encourage others to use this time to go outside and make a stretch of road beautiful,” he said. “It will feel great, I promise.”

Rotarians catalogue litter

Members from the North Oconee Rotary Club also recently partnered with the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission to conduct the commission’s required annual litter index.

“The same people take the same route each we get an eye on what’s out there each year,” said KOCBC director Cindy Pritchard. “What the litter index does is helps us decide what to address and what areas to address, whether it’s our ‘Dirty Dozen’ or ‘Adopt-a-Mile’ program.” 

The litter index also lets KOCBC maintain an accurate read on county roads so that the Oconee County Sheriff Office’s litter patrol division, which partners with them, can work with community service individuals to target specific roadways for cleanup. 

Like many organizations, the KOCBC and its volunteers had to adapt when the statewide shelter-in-place order took effect. 

“The North Oconee Rotary was adamant they [still] wanted to do it, so we took our clipboards and everything and put them on the picnic tables by the Ashford church,” Pritchard said. “We (the KOCBC) will collect them, but they also have the ability to scan or screenshot them in, and we can start working on our data.” 

Last year, the KOCBC’s litter index data showed a slight decrease in Oconee-area litter. 

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