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Keep TN Beautiful visits Lebanon, area schools

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By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post

Catching littering drivers can help Lebanon be more beautiful and add revenue to the city or county general fund as well, said an official with a state beautification organization.

Keep TN Beautiful (KTnB) Community Development Specialist Howard Cobbs told people how they can help at a recent Lebanon Beautification event.

First, a new state law allows drivers who spot other drivers littering to call in the license plate number and location to 877-8LITER, Cobbs said. Then the department of Transportation will look up the license number and send the owner a letter and a litter bag for his or her car.

“The letter says this is not a ticket,” Cobbs told about 30 people at the event. He added the letter does point out that someone saw the person littering and that if that someone had been a police officer this would be a ticket.

A new Tennessee law makes this possible. The law says the driver is responsible for anyone who litters while riding in his/her car.

If what is tossed weighs less than 5 pounds it is a misdemeanor with a $50 fine. Items weighing 5-10 pounds carry a fine of $500 and larger quantities of litter carry a $2,500 fine, he said.

This is only one of many things being done to help stop littering in the state, Cobbs noted.

Statistics show that most of the people tossing litter out of vehicles and dropping it casually are between 12 and 20 years old, he said.

He then showed the group a photo of a typical ball stadium after a game, with trash lining the rows of seats.

He said if schools will work with students and adults to stop this most common form of dumping trash where it doesn’t belong, it may be possible to raise a generation of people who won’t litter nearly as much.

So KTnB is working with schools and other large event sponsors to promote litter-free events.

The agency will provide free materials to help, banners, litter bags and literature to help educate people attending the events, as well as training material to educate sponsors and volunteers, Cobbs said.

KTnB also is planning to join the annual Keep America Beautiful (KAB) Campaign.

All across the county in March, April and June groups will be working to clean-up, recycle and beautify the country one block at a time, he said.

This year one of the three kick-off events for KAB will be in Nashville, Cobbs said, in part to recognize what a good job Tennessee has been doing to stop litter and make the state roadsides cleane, prettier places.

The Tennessee event will be at Bicentennial Park in Nashville on Thursday, May 14 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Cobbs said the statewide goal is to have all 95 Tennessee counties represented by at least 10 volunteers each.

KTnB has already managed 100 percent participation for two years in a row and has cleaned up more than 1 million miles of roadside. In fact, it is the 100 percent participation that brings the KAB event to Tennessee.

The events are usually in bigger cities, and the first one this year will be in New York City with the second set for New Orleans, Cobbs said.

He added that the next goal is to have 1 million volunteers participate in cleanups during the March, April and May KAB cleanup.

Lebanon Beautification Chair Patsy Anderson told him Lebanon would do its part, starting with the Castle Heights Elementary’s Science Fair held Tuesday night. Any event that promotes recycling, beautification or litter cleanup or prevention can be part of the promotion, Cobbs said. So if your group is planning an event that could go “Litter Free,” call Anderson at 443-2850

Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@wilsonpost.com.

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